Dance as a Learning Platform

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago

Funding Received: 2012
Chicago, IL
Funding Period: 1 year and 5 months
December 25, 2012

Using dance as a learning platform for business, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago is collaborating with more than 60 tech startups inhabiting 1871, a newly created co-working space in Chicago’s Merchandise Mart.

ArtPlace spoke with Jason Palmquist, Hubbard Street's Executive Director, about the project.

ARTPLACE: What has been the thorniest issue you’ve faced to date? How have you dealt with it?

PALMQUIST: With this project, we are fortunate to have partnered with a number of very talented collaborators. ClearSpace and Strategos are two companies who hold themselves and their clients to very high standards. The Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center and the team at 1871 are entrepreneurs themselves and have approached the 'start up' of the shared work space from that perspective to great success. HMS Media is an Emmy Award-winning production house and are experts in translating live performing arts to film. Not to be outdone, the artists of Hubbard Street have trained their entire lives and regularly work with some of the most accomplished choreographers in the world. Needless to say, this is a group of people used to performing at the top of their game, with very little room for failure.

Now, enter "Dance as a Learning Platform..." As a contemporary dance company, Hubbard Street is in the business of practiced perfection. Even the slightest, most nuanced movement is choreographed and rehearsed over and over. It may take hours in the studio to create mere moments of movement on stage. So, to release ourselves into the unpredictable wilds of creative placemaking has definitely pushed us outside of our comfort zone. Giving ourselves the space to experiment, innovate, and even have mixed success (I'll admit, it's difficult to give myself permission to use the word 'fail') is incredibly difficult -- and ironically, it's fundamental to the lessons we’re trying to impart to the entrepreneurs of 1871.

We're working hard to use each 1871 experience to further the objectives of the project as a whole. Each performance and classroom learning creates opportunities to learn from mistakes. In fact, we're learning more from our less successful experiences than those that work perfectly according to plan. So, as an institution and as collaborators we've had to give ourselves permission to live in the same space as the start-ups we’re working with.

We've also had to give ourselves permission to keep our focus on the long term goals of the project. At the end of our residency at 1871, we will have developed a learning platform that exists on a variety of levels - from small group classroom learning and intimate performances that encourage right-brain thinking to a set of eight videos that explore key concepts and are available to a very broad audience. The lessons learned at 1871 have the potential to impact companies far beyond the confines of the Merchandise Mart - but only if we're now willing to trust in the process and accept that failures are necessary for innovation.