Dance as a Learning Platform

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago

Funding Received: 2012
Chicago, IL
Funding Period: 1 year and 5 months
September 26, 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 Taryn Kaschock Russell, director of Hubbard Street 2, about the project.

ARTPLACE: Is there a new challenge that engaging in creative placemaking presents for you, your organization and the artists who work with you? Are there new skills required?

KASCHOCK: Thus far, our work with 1871 has been focused on navigating the complex logistics required to realize the project. We’ve brought the design team together on numerous occasions to chart-out each of the learning sessions. We’ve met with a focus group of entrepreneurs at 1871 to test the relevance of our curriculum. We’ve worked and reworked (and reworked again) the schedule to accommodate everyone involved – and next week, we actively begin to make art “in the place.”

In early September, the artists of Hubbard Street 2 and I began to work in the Hubbard Street studios (located in Chicago’s West Loop) under the watchful eye and lenses of HMS Media. We began to explore the key learning concepts of the ArtPlace project through movement: Lead, Collaborate, Innovate, Grow.

We’ve done a lot of site-specific work in the past – from interacting with Andy Warhol’s Silver Clouds in Mies van der Rohe’s iconic Crown Hall on the campus of the Illinois Institute of Technology to Monet-inspired improvisation in the galleries of the Art Institute of Chicago.

But – we’ve never created dance in an active work space before. The 12th floor of the Merchandise Mart (where 1871 is located) provides wonderful opportunities (but also challenges) for dancemaking. There are huge windows with sweeping views of the Chicago skyline. At the same time, there are meeting rooms, shared spaces, and other nooks and crannies that are interesting to me as places for dance.

On September 17, the dancers and I have our first opportunity to work in the space prior to our first performance there on October 1. I’m terribly excited to see what happens.

At Hubbard Street, we’ve spent much time discussing how to market this project to the residents of 1871. These entrepreneurs are on the cutting-edge of using technology, and we’re working hard to “keep up.” Thus, in addition to the live performance experiences, we’re creating a series of short films around each of the key learning areas. The non-linear process of film-making is an interesting departure for us. Although we’re very used to working in an abstract, non-narrative way, the camera takes it to a whole new level. Some of the footage we shot last week won’t be used until May or June when we’re exploring the concept of growth. Anticipating the future and ensuring the work we’re doing now is relevant 9 months from now is a challenge. But making art (like building a business) does not follow a clearly defined path – so we’ve got to build in opportunities for improvisation and inspiration.

PHOTO: Hubbard Street 2 Director Taryn Kaschock Russell with dancers (L to R) Emilie Leriche, Alicia Delgadillo, Felicia McBride and Lissa Smith. Photo by Todd Rosenberg