Loyola University Chicago


Department of Fine and Performing Arts


Director of Loyola Dance Program Performs at the Library of Congress

Sandra Library of Congress

Images by Jonathan Hsu

On April 19th, 2019, Sandra Kaufmann, founding director of the dance program at Loyola University Chicago, headed to Washington DC to perform in “The Legacy of the New Dance Group” concert at the Library of Congress. The performance showcased the work of the New Dance Group and the vital role of dance in the fight for social justice.

The New Dance Group was an artistic collective formed by American modern dance pioneers in 1932 and coined the phrase “Dance is a Weapon.”  After Kaufmann curated works from the New Dance Group into the Arts and Social Justice Conference in 2016, she wanted to continue with the work. She took a particular interest in the preservation of these historical dances and their influence on the evolution of western dance.

Kaufmann was familiar with the impressive American modern dance archives at the Library of Congress and decided to call them with an ambitious proposal: She wanted these dances performed at the library.

Kaufmann contacted a group of dance artists who dedicate themselves to this particular work and are authorities in the field. Erica Dankmeyer, Samantha Geracht, Jennifer Conley, and Clarence Brooks joined Kaufmann with a common goal of dance preservation. After months of curating and rehearsing select pieces, they were ready to perform.

The performance featured five solos created by renowned members of the New Dance Group. Kaufmann performed the solo “Cante Flamenco” choreographed by Jane Dudley in 1944. The show was presented by Dr. Ellen Graff, author of “Dance and Politics in New York City: 1928-1942”, and included performances of “Time is Money” by Jane Dudley, “Kaddish” by Anna Sokolow, “Dustbowl Ballads” by Sophie Maslow, and “Mourner’s Bench” by Tally Beatty.

The performance was video documented and archived into the Library of Congress’ historical performing arts collection. The works will now live on for future generations to experience the impact of the New Dance Group.

This event is a prime example of Loyola’s commitment to being trailblazers in the field, to honoring historical work, and to using dance as a means for social justice.

Congratulations to Sandra Kaufmann on this incredible achievement!

Dance Minor Uses Dance 280 Knowledge for Healthcare Internship

Dance Minor Uses Dance Knowledge for Healthcare Internship

Senior Dance Minor Kelsey Andeway wants to change the face of healthcare through dance. She took many classes at Loyola, but she credits a specific course for sparking this passion: Adaptive Dance Practices.  

Adaptive Dance Practices (ADP) opened as a new course in Fall 2017 and is taught by dance faculty Sarah Cullen Fuller. The course aims to teach the best practices in adaptive dance, and to “develop strategies that address the physical, social, and cultural implications of physically integrated dance in multiple settings.” 

While in the class, Kelsey saw immediately how her passions for writing, healthcare, and dance could come together, and the following summer she accepted a Public Relations internship with Advocate Health Care that had her writing articles on up-and-coming healthcare practices. She took this as an opportunity to take all she had learned in the ADP course and share it on a platform where others could benefit. 

Her favorite article to write was a self-driven piece: “Benefits of Dancing Available for Everyone.” The article was published to Advocate Health enews, reaching Advocate's 315,000 subscribers and bringing to light the different ways people with disabilities can get involved in dance. The ADP course stressed that anybody could dance, it was just up to the current dance community to make space and be welcoming.  

The takeaways from the ADP course changed Kelsey’s outlook on her post-grad life and how she would be merging her many passions.

If you are interested in learning more about these topics, the Adaptive Dance Practices course is being offered this upcoming semester Fall 2019. Registration opens April 8th and can be found on LOCUS as DANC 280.  

Sign up and see what it’s all about! 

And be sure to check out Kelsey's fantastic article

In/Motion is in Full Force for its 5th Anniversary

In/Motion is in Full Force for its 5th Anniversary

The In/Motion International Dance Film Festival never disappoints to bring groundbreaking art to Loyola and this year is better than ever. 

Determined to pack as much as it can into three days, In/Motion welcomes an incredible lineup of artists and events to the Loyola University Chicago campus.  Between screenings, dance classes, panels, and guest artist Shamel Pitts, there is something for every artist. 

Friday night starts off the weekend with the always popular International Juried Screening featuring dance film from all around the world.  This night is exemplary of the festival’s mission, which is dedicated to highlight interdisciplinary dance film with a social justice message 

The films selected range in style, genre, theme, representation, and more, yet are all similar in their desire to further dance using film. The lineup includes: My body is in Your Court - Paula Pardo Celaya and Yasmina G. GarabatoUnderground - Jun Bae, Screaming Shapes - Sophia Stoller, Dynamite - Leila JarmanPassage - David-Alexandre Chanel, Dergin Tokmak-Start Your Impossible - Adi HalfinLorelei - Christina Burchard, Counter//Balance - Anuradha Rana, and Hic et Nunc “Here and Now” - Emma Cianchi. 

Following through to Saturday are two events that lie at the heart of In/Motion.  The first, the Emerging Artists Showcase, features up-and-coming filmmakers who are breaking into the scene.  Their work is fresh, uninhibited, and surrounded by a sense of excitement.   

The lineup includes: Respira - Maria PivaThe Dance of Amal - Rami Al Rabih, Underbridge - Florent Schwartz, Maids - Sofía Castro, Saudade - Gerardo MS Aguilera and Claudia Franco, Unknown - Mandy Work Wetzel and Shannon Metelko, and Go - Robert Dekkers and Morgan Frasier. 

The complimentary event that afternoon, the Local Artists Showcase, looks to shine a light on the incredible work being done here in Chicago by the seasoned artists that call it home.  Moderated by Chicago Tribune Dance Critic Lauren Warnecke, the showcase delves deep into the works of Talia KoylassAJ McClenon, and Addison Wright. It creates an opportunity to get a behind-the-scenes-look at how these professionals are responding to the world around them. 

The evening boasts Shamel Pitts’s Black Series. Pitts is a performing artist, dancemaker, and director, as well as a former Batsheva Dance Company member.  Originally from Brooklyn, but a dancer in Tel Aviv for over six years, Pitts brings to the screen not only his own stories of identity, but stories that reflect a greater sense of “heritage, ancestry, and struggle” (Evans). 

The Black Series includes Black Box: The Short Film by Aviv Maaravi, Black Velvet: Architectures and Archetypes, and Black Hole: Trilogy and Triathlon.   

The weekend is rounded out on Sunday with the Shamel Pitts three-part workshop. It consists of a dialogue on choreography for film, a gaga class open to all, and a guided creative process involving the workshop’s participants.  

Loyola’s Dance program is proud to host In/Motion year after year, and believes that the mission of the festival deeply aligns with the mission of Loyola. Each event strives to make dance more diverse, interdisciplinary, and inclusive, and hopes to inspire the arts community in Chicago. 

To learn more about the festival, see the schedule of events below or check out the official In/Motion website. To join in on this incredible event, buy your tickets or all-access pass today.  


                           Schedule of Events  
Friday International Juried Screening 7:30pm Damen Cinema
Saturday Emerging Artist Showcase 3:00pm Damen Cinema
  Local Artist Showcase 5:00pm Mundelein Rm 409
  Black Series Screening & Q&A with Shamel Pitts 7:30pm Damen Cinema
Sunday Shamel Pitts 3-Part Workshop 11:00am Mundelein Rm 409


Evans, B., & Bernard-Banton, J. (2017, March 02). Ten experimental filmmakers tackling the world's big topics. Retrieved from http://www.dazeddigital.com/artsandculture/article/34976/1/filmmakers-experimenting-with-big-subjects 

Dancers Head to ACDA 2019

Dancers Head to ACDA 2019

Isabelle Taylor's "Five Her-Stories" at the Artifacts of Self Concert 2018. Photo by Emma Petersen.

While campus clears for spring break this weekend, 19 dance students and faculty members, Amy Wilkinson and Sarah Cullen Fuller, will head to Springfield, Ohio for the American College Dance Association Conference.

The annual trip to ACDA is a privilege for our dancers, as it provides the opportunity to present their hard work and dance research, network with students and faculty from other dance programs, and get a grasp on the work happening outside of our home university.

Students will take four days of dance classes, learning and growing from new teachers and new dance genres.  They will also perform works “I. First.” by Rena Butler and “Five Her-Stories” by Senior Isabelle Taylor in an adjudicated concert. Senior Sarah Fluegel will also present her research solo “Mind of Movement” in an informal concert.

Be sure to follow our social media to get a behind the scenes look at ACDA, and check back next week for a recap of the conference.

A Look Back: Sarita Smith Childs’ First Semester at Loyola

A Look Back: Sarita Smith Childs’ First Semester at Loyola

Loyola University Chicago’s Dance Program had the honor of welcoming Sarita Smith Childs as the newest member of its dance faculty this year.  Sarita joined the program with over 20 years of dance, choreography, and teaching experience and has been a fantastic addition to the growing program.

Sarita began dancing in Chicago and moved to New York while in high school to continue pursuing her professional dance career.  She then attended Sarah Lawrence College where she graduated with a B.A. in Liberal Arts with concentrations in Dance and Economics.

Throughout her career, Sarita has enjoyed dancing professionally as well as training future generations.  She has served as dance faculty at DePaul University, Lou Conte Dance Studio, and Gus Giordano Dance Center.  She currently teaches at Visceral Dance Center and the Joffrey Academy of Dance while also being a Joffrey Ballet Community Engagement teaching artist.  Sarita holds these appointments in addition to her faculty position in Loyola’s Dance program!

Sarita took on two Dance Major courses during her first semester: Intermediate Ballet IV and Pointe I.  The dancers in her classes were thankful to have a new, accomplished teacher as well as a change of pace.

Junior Dance Major Abby Darrow reflected on her semester in Sarita's ballet class:

When pursuing dance in college, you find yourself in a comfort zone because you’re getting to know your faculty more every year.  With Sarita coming in this semester, none of us knew what to expect.  I admire the way she speaks to us as athletes.  She is always reminding us how important it is to be in constant training and to take care of ourselves physically.  I appreciate her love for dance and her willingness to guide every individual.

Sarita has been excited since the day she was hired to have the opportunity to work with pre-professional dancers in a much deeper process.  She likes to shape her classes so there is time to, “deeply explore theory, apply it kinetically in the studio and cultivate it further artistically to lead up to a performance.”

Her classes hugely impacted the dancers’ preparations for the Annual Dance Concert, as she pushes instruction one step further and truly ignites knowledge and passion into every student she teaches.

When asked what it meant to be teaching at a Jesuit institution, where ideologies of faith and commitments to social justice exude from every classroom, Sarita couldn’t have been more excited.  “It is incredibly fulfilling to be able to teach in an institution that puts Faith at the core of its foundational mission and allows me to integrate it into my curriculum,” said Sarita.

As far as social justice, Sarita spoke of diversity and representation in the classroom.  She said:

It can be life changing for young and emerging dance artists...to work with artists that look like them or have shared experiences successfully working in their field. While there may be trailblazing qualities deep within us, it is sometimes hard to understand how we will make our way in the world if we do not see examples of success.

Dancers in the program are happy to see that the newest faculty member brings diversity to the program, both in mind and spirit.  Loyola Dance celebrates and welcomes each unique piece of the program that makes it what it is, and Sarita has been a wonderful addition.  She is thrilled to continue working with the talented Loyola University Chicago faculty, as well as its developing artists, future educators, and global citizens.

If you would like to read more about Sarita, you can check out her bio on our faculty page.  To view descriptions of the classes she teaches, visit our course offerings page. As always, stay updated on all things Loyola Dance by following @lucdanceprogram on Instagram and Facebook.


Renowned Choreographer Rena Butler Premiers "I. First" at Loyola's Artifacts of Self

Guest Artist Rena Butler

Rena Butler in rehearsal with her dancers for "I. First" 2018.

Since its inception, Loyola University Chicago’s dance program has taken strides to not only becoming a distinguished program, but to becoming one producing thought-provoking work.  Guest choreographer Rena Butler’s contribution to the 2018 fall concert is yet another step towards excellence, pushing Loyola dancers further than ever before.

As one of this year’s Choreographic Fellows at Hubbard Street Dance Chicago (HSDC), Butler adds notoriety as a choreographer to her existing success as a performer.  Her work currently includes a multi-location three-piece suite…the first episode performed by Loyola Dance, the second by SUNY Purchase, and the third by HSDC…that will develop later on into an evening length work.

Loyola’s episode, titled “I. First,” is centered around Butler’s own experiences and struggles.  In it, she confronts multiple aspects of her identity…sexuality, intellect, appearance and subconscious…while navigating how these conflicting themes translate into movement.  She believes in recognizing an individual’s struggles and how they mirror larger social issues.

The Loyola dancers in Butler’s piece are inspired by her work, as its deeper themes resonate in a way that recognizes each individual but unites them as a cast.

“I feel like I have a voice in this piece and I’m enjoying the sense of womanhood and unity that the piece exemplifies,” said junior Loretta Homes.  “Performing Rena's piece makes me feel empowered to be a bold woman who is free to portray herself however she wants,” adds sophomore Lucy Jaffar.

Butler commands any room she steps into. She is bold and confident, while lighthearted and collaborative.  Her words hold attention and her choreography sparks something new in every one of her dancers.  

“She draws people in because of her generous nature in teaching, performing, and just existing in the room,” said senior Gina Wrolstad. 

While Loyola’s guest artists are always fresh additions to the concert, Rena offers a unique voice that draws from surrounding culture while remaining distinctly her own. Her choreography adds a fiery, womanly power to Artifacts of Self, uniting the concert’s four other pieces by Randy Duncan, Sandra Kaufmann, Sarah Cullen Fuller and Isabelle Taylor.  Every piece has its own take on how the body displays the soul’s emotions in a way no other art form can.  Butler takes this sentiment to heart, allowing the audience to be deeply affected by what’s on stage.

“She isn’t afraid to draw an audience in, turn their insides out, and leave them curious about that leftover feeling in their gut.  To be a part of that as her dancer is truly astonishing,” states senior Sarah Fluegel.

“I. First” will premiere at Artifacts of Self running November 15-18, 2018 at the Newhart Family Theatre at Loyola University Chicago.  Tickets can be purchased at www.artsevents.luc.edu/dance. For further information or inquiries, email dfpa@luc.edu.