Featured Event: Café Cortado combines coffee and dance with a boost for local shops

Chicago has delicious coffee and a captivating dance scene, but it’s rare to find a combination of the two. Premiering in June, “Café Cortado” is new dance project highlighting the uniqueness of Chicago’s independent coffee shops including PiniPico Brazilian Café and Sputnik Coffee Company.

PiniPico Brazilian Café opened at the start of the pandemic, while Sputnik pivoted towards a reliance on grocery deliveries to get through. Using a combination of livestream performance, interviews and dance film, choreographer Mariah Eastman uses the prominent culture of caffeination as inspiration. Five dancers perform in the piece: Keila Hamed Ramos and Abigail Roberts at Sputnik Coffee Company; Julia Schaeffer in a dance film; and Ashley Chung and Angela Risi at PiniPico Brazilian Café. Collaborators include Jordan Kunkel, Lesley Reed and Timothy Tsang.

Eastman uses gestures as the basis for her movement as well as the coffee shops as inspiration, designing dynamic phrases to complement components of each shop—from the bright red walls of Sputnik Coffee Company to the beautiful diagonal patterns of PiniPico’s seats.

Eastman has been working in Chicago for four years. With a mission to feature the unique physical qualities of her dancers, Eastman also creates to showcase the spaces in which she works. Eastman has a degree in dance and choreography from Virginia Commonwealth University and has presented work at Arts on Site (NYC), Trifecta Dance Collective’s “A New Light,” Baltimore Dance Invitational and for Simantikos Dance.


“Café Cortado” will take place virtually on June 24th at 7:45pm. For online access and more information, click the event page below.