The University of Chicago’s Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts announced Friday the appointment of Princess Mhoon as strategic program manager, a position developed to lead the Chicago Black Dance Legacy Project.
Mhoon, a Chicago native, brings more than 20 years of experience and an impressive list of accolades in various aspects of arts leadership to the role. As a teacher, performer and choreographer, she has worked with the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, DC Jazz Festival, Barefeet Theatre Festival and First Lady Michelle Obama’s 2016 Celebration of Black Women in Dance. Mhoon additionally served as a panelist for The White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans.
Mhoon’s personal connections to CBDLP run deep, having affiliations with five of its eight member companies. She trained with Muntu Dance Theatre and Najwa Dance Corps, for which her parents were also company members. Joel Hall Dancers and Center and Homer Bryant (now of the Chicago Multicultural Dance Center) are additional influences, as is Kevin Iega Jeff, co-founder of Deeply Rooted Dance Theater. Mhoon studied with Jeff while at Howard University, where she earned a BFA in dance and master’s degree in public history. She also founded the Washington, D.C.-based Princess Mhoon Dance Institute, an organization focused on personal, professional and artistic development.
"To join the Chicago Black Legacy Dance Project is the continuation of my lifelong commitment to the field of dance and a way to pay forward the gifts that were given to me,” Mhoon said in a press release. “As a native Chicagoan, I come from a rich community of art makers and icons, and it is my commitment to expand their reach and amplify their voices during my tenure with the project."
The Chicago Black Dance Legacy Project was established in 2019 as a conglomerate of eight dance companies. CBDLP works in partnership with the University of Chicago’s Office of Civic Engagement Community Programs Accelerator, made possible through start-up support from the Joyce Foundation and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. An overarching goal of the initiative is to celebrate the impact of Black and African diasporic dance organizations in Chicago, with specific attention to collective financial, administrative and operational support.
“We utilize the power and process of dance to nurture people and communities holistically,” said Mashaune Hardy in a prepared statement. Hardy is the assistant director of partnerships and strategy for Logan Center Community Arts and business manager of CBDLP partner company Ayodele Drum and Dance. “Princess comes from that same process and I'm excited to see her align the Chicago Black Dance Legacy Project with that spirit.”
Throughout the pandemic, the Chicago Black Dance Legacy Project has provided online master classes and conversations about the history, culture and artistic vision of the companies involved in the project. A spring break class series with free classes for youth aged 10-18 will take place March 29–April 1.
For more information, see CBDLP’s organization page below or visit chicagoblackdancelegacy.org.