Winifred Haun & Dancers/Chicago Movement Collective present “Persistent Spring”


Navigating the professional dance world presents many challenges that test the resilience and dedication of a young dancer. The journey is fraught with obstacles, from fierce competition for limited opportunities to the constant pressure to maintain physical capabilities. Financial instability often looms, with many young dancers grappling with balancing their passion with the practicalities of making ends meet. The demanding nature of the profession takes a toll on emotional well-being as dancers confront performance anxiety, self-doubt, and the ever-present fear of rejection.

Winifred Haun & Dancers (WH&D) and Chicago Movement Collective (CMC) have both developed training programs that nurture the passion and determination of young Chicago dance artists, fueling their pursuit of artistic excellence amidst the challenges they face. Participants take classes weekly and rehearse with WH&D and have opportunities to participate in paid performance opportunities in professional settings, alongside access to regular evaluation sessions and choreographic mentorship. 

"Persistent Spring," premiering on May 24 at the Ruth Page Center, pulsates with the energy and promise of these budding dance artists and is one of the paid opportunities to perform and showcase their choreographic work. A collaborative endeavor between WH&D’s 3rd Coast Contemporary Dance program and CMC’s Claire Bataille Legacy Scholarship program, it serves as a beacon for pre-professional and early career dancers, aged 17-26, to showcase their talents. With roots firmly planted in accessible, professional training, this initiative breathes life into the aspirations of young performers, nurturing their growth and creativity. Through dynamic choreography and vibrant performances, "Persistent Spring" is a celebration of resilience, renewal, and the enduring spirit of artistic expression.


Winifred Haun & Dancers, with Emily Horowitz; Michelle Reid

The program featured twelve works choreographed by Chicago artists and program participants, including the premiere of “Absent Moon (part 2)” by WH&D, choreographed by Winifred Haun. The repertoire spanned various genres, including modern, liturgical, contemporary and inventive blends of hip-hop influences.

In “Garden,” choreographed by Shannon Alvis, the venue was transformed into a realm of ethereal beauty as the dancers moved across the floor keenly aware of the space held between their bodies. In “Mourning Hymn”, choreographed by Sarita Smith Childs, the dancers pulsated with raw energy. The young yet undeniably talented dancers took to the stage with palpable force, igniting the space with their passion and commitment to their craft. Yet, beyond their technical prowess, what truly set the evening apart was the emotional depth conveyed by the dancers. With every leap, every extension, they seemed to pour their hearts and souls into their movements.

WH&D’s excerpt from “Absent Moon (Part 2)” is a mesmerizing exploration of the nature of conflicts, exhibiting the professional caliber to which the training artists aspire. The work features music by Michael Wall overlaid with recordings of melting Arctic ice.

Winifred Haun's choreography transcends the traditional boundaries of modern dance, merging elements of classical technique with avant-garde experimentation. Combined with Wall’s sound score, Haun creates a sensory experience that is both captivating and enigmatic.

Winifred Haun & Dancers; Photo by Michelle Reid.

The dancers convey the anguish, aggression, and vulnerability inherent in moments of conflict. Tensions rise and fall as the performers navigate the complexities of confrontation and resolution through partner work and specific arm gestures one might see in an everyday encounter. Amidst the chaos, moments of fleeting harmony emerge, hinting at the possibility of reconciliation. The piece serves as a powerful reminder that conflict is both inevitable and transformative, leaving an indelible mark on the soul.  

Throughout the evening, it was evident that the 3rd Coast Contemporary Dance program and Claire Bataille Legacy Scholarship Program had succeeded in nurturing the technical abilities of its students and in fostering their artistic sensibilities and individual voices. The evening featured many works by the young dancers themselves, including “Of Kinder Things Lost”, “Vibration Unheard”, “Early In The Morning”, “Against Me”, “Swim Good” and “Of Two Minds.”

Under the guidance of their dedicated instructors, these young dancers had blossomed into true artists, capable of moving audiences with authentic storytelling and unique movement vocabularies. As the evening came to an end, one couldn't help but feel grateful for the opportunity that WH&D and CMC have provided these young artists in such a challenging industry.

WH&D will present “Absent Moon” in October at the Studebaker Theater, 410 S. Michigan Ave. For more information, click the company link below.