Ellyzabeth Adler (Executive Director, Teaching Artist) is a multidisciplinary artist working in the genre of "Tanztheatre," weaving together theatre, dance, film, spoken word, and music. As founder of Chicago Danztheatre Ensemble (CDE) she has dedicated herself to forming partnerships with artists of all genres and generations to create unique, dynamic, engaging, and meaningful ensemble performances. She also teaches and mentors the next generation of performers who, in turn, serve as visiting artists and teachers in schools and community centers through CDE’s Books Alive and Poetry Alive to enhance literacy, numeracy, and arts awareness for thousands of underserved children in the Chicago area, as well as teaching traditional dance, theatre and visual art in the schools.
Ellyzabeth studied dance at William Reilly Academy of Ballet and danced with the Springfield Ballet Company before earning a BFA in Performing Arts, with a minor in Broadcast Journalism at Roosevelt University. In 2000 she earned a Masters of Arts in Directing and Movement; as her thesis she developed CDE’s techniques for creating multidisciplined, kinesthetic, and socially engaging theatre.
She has created and/or collaboratively adapted, directed and choreographed 10 full-length works including: T.S Eliot’s The Wasteland; Ever Your Own; Edgar; The Yellow Wallpaper; This Is Not A Pipe; Bindis and Bruises; and Touch and Mirrors - one-act plays based on the work of the Persian poet, Rumi. She has also created and choreographed over a dozen concert-length works focused on women’s issues, the female body, the human condition, and pathways to enlightenment. Among these works include HOPE based off the letters of incarcerated men, Unraveling Bill about her friend Theresa Blake who's brother Bill committed suicide after returning from Iraq. While these topic might appear heavy, there is alway a ray of hope and healing in every work that Ellyzabeth created. In 2017, she teamed up with long time colleague, Lucy Vurusic Rhiner of RE Dance to create Ethereal Abandonment based on the photography of Chicagoan Candace Casey about a group of friends who explore an abandoned theater and item they find tells a story of long ago.
Ellyzabeth is also a published author with her short stories Full Moon Soulmate and Last Chapter. As a domestic abuse survivor, she has spoken at several conferences and activism events including for Between Friends, Light Up The Lakefront, Muslim Women's Association and Columbia College.
Ellyzabeth has one very simple goal in life: to change in the world for the better, one person at a time.
Megan Lewis (Managing Director) leads CDE’s administrative and development teams. She has more than 20 years of experience in nonprofit project development and management, building relationships, securing funding, developing programming, and managing a variety of projects. Educated and trained as an urban planner, Megan has experience addressing social and economic inequities in under-resourced neighborhoods and communities. She has also performed in non-equity theater productions in Chicago. A strong supporter of CDE’s arts education program, her two children, both CPS students, have participated in several CDE arts education programs. Megan has a Bachelor of Arts in economics from Indiana University and a master’s degree in urban and environmental planning from the University of Pennsylvania.