Int/Advanced Class with Molly Shanahan

Event Type
Event Description

Class with Molly Shanahan, one of Chicago's finest Contemporary dance teachers 

for advanced, professional, and intermediate dancers.  Registration taken that morning at the door.

Class description/philosophy:  My classes spring from my solo and ensemble practices; they evolve within and as a result of the live/living context created by the dancers sharing the space. I compose each moment of each class spontaneously, based on an evolving vocabulary forged through the crucible of 20 years of teaching and choreographing with an eye toward the development of a unique vocabulary and remaining a lifelong student of movement. My phrases tend to focus on whole-self connectivity, unabashed flow, and the inherent spirals of the body,paying particular attention to the full rotational capacities of the ball and socket joints in concert with a undulatory spine and access to the mobility of/within the pelvis. I encourage a productive softening of compulsively-held core/abdominal muscles; though this process is optional it will bear the fruit of greater ease, pleasure, and less risk of injury/pain in the lower back, which absorbs the excess effort of overuse of the abdominals when they are not being put to use to move—rather than stabilize—the skeleton. We move. I witness. I ask you to be kind to yourself and suggest that it might be easy, even simple. With that said, the patterns are loopy, sometimes quite complex and appear difficult at first glance. Whatever that means to you. I try to be responsive to what springs from me in the moment as the best expression of what I can offer, and from what I observe the class might "need" in order to get the most for their investment of time and money and trust in me as a guide for 90 minutes. My classes have been called "release technique." Though this is not a name I use I certainly do foster and facilitate the release of compulsive, habitual, and often only somewhat-conscious use of muscles, mind, and self-judgment, a process which can block full expressivity or shorten careers through injury. Since 2010 I have complemented studio research with daily movement research in water, which is informing my teaching as well. 

More about Molly: Through rigorous personal research, Molly Shanahan has developed a distinctive movement vocabulary characterized by virtuosic fluidity and provocative gesturality, and a unique approach to performance that insists on the release of tacit muscular armoring. The result is an emotional and kinetic transparency that fosters meaningful exchange with audiences. Shanahan is the recipient of two National Performance Network (NPN) Creation Fund Awards, two NPN Community Fund Awards, a Chicago Dancemakers Forum Lab Artist Award, an Illinois Arts Council fellowship for choreography, and a 2010 Meier Achievement Award, among many other awards. Her groundbreaking solo, "My Name is a Blackbird" was listed as one of the "top ten dance moments of the decade" by TimeOut Chicago. Shanahan was featured in New City's 2010 and 2012 feature "The Players, 50 people who really perform for Chicago.” She has collaborated with composers/musicians Andrew Bird, Jon Mueller, Kevin O'Donnell, Mark Booth and Dave Pavkovic, and dramaturg/director Leslie Buxbaum Danzig, among others. Shanahan's work has been performed extensively in Chicago, and also in New York, Milwaukee, Montreal, Columbus, Miami, among others. She conducts teaching, creation and performance residencies nationwide. Molly is a native of Canada and maintains dual citizenship. Shanahan is currently a doctoral fellow in Dance at Temple University (Philadelphia) where she is pursuing a PhD through expanded embodied and theoretical research that will position her to articulate her work in both performance and through the written word. She remains active in the field through Molly Shanahan/Mad Shak, her organizational home base in Chicago. Founded in 1994 when Shanahan was 24 years old, the Company sustains a focus on creative research with the guidance of an international board of directors who partner with Shanahan to support her ongoing work during both lean and abundant times. Current projects mine the challenges and rewards of living the dual life of artist and (emerging) scholar: And We Shall Be Rid of Them is an extended-process duet with Jeff Hancock that will premiere in 2015 in Chicago; Virtuosity and Forgetting is new work with ensemble members Kristina Fluty, Ben Law, and Jessie Marasa. For more information go to or...facebook. 

Note:   Shahanan will perform, Thursday May 29 with Jeffery Hancock in the Contemporary Dance Sampler, 7:30 pm at the Hamlin Park Fieldhouse Theater, Hamlin Park Fieldhouse, 3035 N. Hoyne.

Tickets are $5 and available only at the door, cash only.  Box office will open at 6:30 pm that night for ticket sales.  Also presenting dance works that night:  Paige Caldarella, Lisa Gonzales, Jessica Marasa, and Same Planet Different World Dance Theatre.

Dance Styles
Modern / Contemporary


Hamlin Park Fieldhouse Theater

Hamlin Park Theater, Hamlin Park Fieldhouse 3035 N. Hoyne
Chicago, IL 60618
(773) 880-5402