Dance as a Learning Platform

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago

Funding Received: 2012
Chicago, IL
Funding Period: 1 year and 5 months
August 15, 2013

On June 27, we gave our culminating Dance as a Learning Platform presentation at 1871. Rather than prescribing a traditional performance, Hubbard Street 2 Director Terence Marling created a framework for co-creation between the audience and Hubbard Street’s artists. The result was a fully improvised dance in nine parts, with each section’s choreographic goals generated collectively around prompts.

Section 1, for four dancers: Sleepy, Moving, Touching, Coffee
Section 2, for eight dancers: Mountain, Enlightenment, Together, Celebration (with a Fight)
Section 3, for four dancers: Harmony, Mirror, Return,
Section 4, for two dancers: Hot Coals, Sharing Weight
Section 5, for two dancers: Flying, Superhero, Crunchy, Coming to Ground, Heavy
Section 6, for eight dancers: Quick Gestures, Eye Contact, Shelter
Section 7, for one dancer: Yellow, Smooth, Fast, Blind, Everywhere
Section 8, for five dancers: Copycat, Paranoia
Section 9, for eight dancers: Tag, Then Sleep; Acceptance

The evening was full of surprises and several magical moments. It was incredible to see the ease with which 1871’s entrepreneurs — helped by nearly 10 months of exposure to contemporary dance — interacted with the dancers and brought their experiences as business-builders into the impromptu choreography.

In addition to 1871 members, several guests attended this June 27 event including Tom Gardner, CEO of the Motley Fool, a multimedia financial services company. Tom eagerly jumped into the exercise and I was fascinated by how intuitively he connected with and enhanced the dancers’ creative process. His facility in this environment became much clearer when, the following day, I spent some time exploring The Motley Fool’s website, which states the company’s core purpose: “To help the world invest. Better.”

That’s quite distinct from Hubbard Street’s core purpose: “To bring artists, art and audiences together to engage, educate, enrich and change lives through the experience of dance.”

Onward I read, finding The Motley Fool’s core values:

Be Foolish!

Collaborate – Do great things together.
Innovate – Search for a better solution. Then top it!
Fun – Revel in your work.
Honest – Make us proud.
Competitive – Play fair, play hard, play to win.
Motley – Make foolishness your own.

While it’s no surprise that a contemporary dance organization and a financial services company have different purposes, I was struck by how closely our core values are in alignment. Furthermore, The Motley Fool’s first two values — collaboration and innovation — are identical to two of the eight points of focus explored by Dance as a Learning Platform.

In Tom’s world, “foolish” isn’t an adjective bound by traditional associations, but an opening to empowerment — an unconventional prompt for embracing his company’s core values. This aligns with key goals of Dance as a Learning Platform, specifically: encouraging entrepreneurs to identify solutions by analogizing their problems in a choreographic context; and helping them see the “play” within dancemaking processes as fertile ground for growing competitive advantages.

The connections are there. We at Hubbard Street will continue to look for ways to Be Foolish; perhaps Tom and his team will look for more ways to Be Hubbard Street!