Since 2001, Chicago Danztheatre Ensemble (CDE) has been “building community through the arts: one voice, one story, one person at time.” CDE stands out in both the Chicago theater and dance landscapes as a trailblazer committed to giving a voice to underrepresented and marginalized communities through a multidisciplinary artistic approach. The company strives to create an equitable, diverse and empowering space for our artists, administrators, teachers, students and audiences through both performance and arts education.
Performances are rooted in the tradition of tanztheatre, which unites artistic mediums to achieve an all-embracing, radical change in humankind. Using multiple artforms in a single performance, CDE creates work that addresses social issues, sparking conversation and cultural change.
CDE’S arts education programs create space for students to explore their creative voices, reaching more than 4,000 Chicago Public Schools students each year. CDE teaches math, science, literacy and comprehension through the arts with a social-emotional teaching methodology. The Kids Project is a process-oriented arts camp for kids ages 5 through 12. This summer’s theme will have kids exploring the world and creating superheroes.
This year, CDE celebrates its 20th anniversary and will begin a two-year retrospective with reimagined productions from the company’s history. Kicking off the season is an adaptation of “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, which will Fridays and Saturdays Nov. 5-20 at Ebenezer Lutheran Church Auditorium. The evening will be shared with RE|Dance, performing “The Attic Room."
After a year of sheltering in place, founder and executive director Ellyzabeth Adler decided on “The Yellow Wallpaper” out of longing for connection and community. Adler will look at this production with new eyes after having a baby in Feb. 2020. Her postpartum depression was exacerbated by isolation.
“Being a single mother by choice, I had my support system in place to help me through the first months of my daughter Miriam Sky’s life. When the shelter-in-place order happened, it was my baby and me for six weeks. In the middle of the night, when she would cry, I would walk around my house feeling trapped, yet scared to go outside because of COVID-19. One day, starring hopelessly at my bookshelf, I saw a copy of ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ and realized I was living this book. Our world is living this book. My hope in remounting this production is to offer a communal grieving for this last year and build a collective understanding and healing.”
The entire two-year retrospective season will be announced on Aug. 20.
Members of the Chicago dance community can support Chicago Danztheatre Ensemble by following us on social media, donating, volunteering or joining the board. For more information, click the organization page below.