Molly Shanahan/Mad Shak

Organization Type
Individual Artist

Since 1994, Molly Shanahan/Mad Shak supports Molly Shanahan's movement and performance research and multi-modal collaborations emphasizing live performance and supplemented by written and video/film documentation, community workshops/classes, and public discussion. Shanahan's core values stem from the belief that convergences of creation and performance form communities and inspire change for both artist and witness. Her work is deeply personal and rigorously researched through a mining of the inner world in tandem with an advancing movement vocabulary comprised of richly detailed spirals enlivened through subtle and idiosyncratic shifts of relationship, image and memory. Shanahan's recent and current projects (Eye Cycle, My Name is a Blackbird, and Stamina of Curiosity) signal her expansion from craft and theme-driven abstract dances to live performance research of spontaneity and vulnerability as productive creative states within the context of performances that honor the witness's role in co-creating experience.

Molly Shanahan/Mad Shak's work has been performed in Chicago and a myriad of venues in North America, including The Dance Center of Columbia College, Links Hall, Storefront Theater, Joyce SoHo, Dance Theater Workshop, and Tangente (Montreal). In 2004 Mad Shak was the recipient of the Chicago Dance and Music Allianc's Elizabeth F. Cheney Dance Achievement Award, citing Shanahan's body of work in 2003 and 2004 for impact on the field and promise for continued innovation. Shanahan was selected as a 2007 Chicago Dancemakers Forum Lab Artist and was awarded an Illinois Arts Council Fellowship for her work on My Name is a Blackbird. Stamina of Curiosity is supported by, among others, a National Performance Network Creation Fund Award in partnership with Alverno Presents and Denison University (Ohio). Molly Shanahan / Mad Shak supports innovation and collaboration though the development and presentation of dance performances and other programs that engage the public in a deeper understanding and appreciation of the creative process. Partnerships and cross-disciplinary collaborations enrich Molly Shanahan / Mad Shak’s creative process and public presentation, including live performance, creative approaches to written and video/film documentation, community workshops and classes, and public discussion. Molly Shanahan / Mad Shak’s core values stem from the belief that within the nonverbal transaction of creation and performance, communities are formed.

Dance Styles
Modern / Contemporary


Molly Shanahan/Mad Shak

6205 North Sheridan
Chicago, IL 60660
(773) 425-2506


Past Events