Dance as a Learning Platform

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago

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

Zumba class at the Lou Conte Dance Studio’s Summer Open House event; photo by Todd Rosenberg

What’s next?
It’s the start of a new season at Hubbard Street, which is always a time filled with anticipation of what is to come—new works to be created, tour travel, and performances at home. Plus, there are many other activities beginning—a new semester of classes at the Lou Conte Dance Studio, preparation for our summer intensive audition tour, and beginning a new school year with our work in Chicago Public Schools.

But . . . The start of a new season also marks the end of the past season, so it becomes a time of reflection. The 2012-2013 season was Hubbard Street’s 35th Anniversary. It was full of large-scale projects that raised the company’s profile around the city and across the country. It also marked our first official foray into creative placemaking through our work at 1871, funded by ArtPlace.

The project was a success on many levels. Creating and executing the curriculum for “Dance as a Learning Platform” was gratifying. Our work with the entrepreneurs of 1871 was interesting to artists and audiences alike, and we’re now developing a revenue-generating model for our future efforts in corporate training.

But . . . Perhaps the biggest revelation for us has not been what happened at 1871, but instead what might happen if we began to really think differently as an organization about “place.”

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago is a valued contributor to our city’s cultural landscape. Our performances at the Harris Theater in Millennium Park are well attended by people from throughout the region. We tour across the country and around the world. But we also exist in a “place,” and that place is on the corner of Jackson and Racine on Chicago’s Near West Side.

What would happen if we made a focused commitment to our “place?” What if we leveraged our significant cultural assets—our artists, our teachers, and our broad programmatic offerings – to enrich the lives of our neighbors?

Several months ago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office launched a new initiative in Chicago called “Neighborhoods Now.” Nearly $3 billion of public and private investment will be made in seven “opportunity rich” areas around the city. One “opportunity area” is the Eisenhower Corridor—Hubbard Street is one of the few cultural organizations in the area, which encompasses several different neighborhoods.

Mayor Emanuel has also expressed a vision for Chicago as a “dance capital of the world.”

Hubbard Street sits at the intersection of "Neighborhoods Now" and "dance capital." What happens next should be interesting.