Loyola University Chicago


Department of Fine and Performing Arts


“Atlas”: Mapping Connections Between the Chicagoland Dance Community

“Atlas”: Mapping Connections Between the Chicagoland Dance Community

“Atlas,” in the 2022 mainstage dance concert The Dream of Home (Emma Petersen Photography)

“Atlas” choreographed by Sarah Cullen Fuller, Lecturer in Dance, in collaboration with the original cast, premiered last fall as part of the Mainstage Dance Concert: The Dream of Home. For Fuller, The essence of the piece is rooted in "Atlas" as a literal and figurative map, as well as "Atlas" as a symbol of strength, support, and endurance. Through the strength of the Loyola Dance community, the piece has built a reputation as a point of connection through movement.

This fall, “Atlas” continues to unify Loyola dancers with the greater Chicago dance network in its most recent restaging in the 13th Annual Counterbalance on September 30th and October 1st, 2023. Now an alumni, original “Atlas” cast member Caitlin Dyer is set to perform the duet with Momenta Company Member Robby Williams, a dancer who uses a wheelchair. When reflecting on the process of working on Counterbalance, Dyer shares “I love working alongside all of the artists at Momenta, and everyone has such positive and open communication. I hope to take that positivity and bring it into other dance spaces beyond this CounterBalance performance.” Dyer will also be performing in 2 additional pieces in Counterbalance 2023, “Without Words” by Ginger Lane and “Dandelion” by Connor Cornelius. 

“Atlas” collaborations initially began when Sarah Najera, Artistic and Executive Director of Momenta Dance Company, attended The Dream of Home. Shortly after, preparations for adapting “Atlas” for Momenta were in the works. As a former Momenta company member herself, Fuller welcomed this collaboration, sharing that “Momenta has always worked to engage diverse artists across age and disability, and this mission has resonated with me as I've moved through my career as a performer, choreographer, and educator.”

The following spring, Caitlin Dyer (B.A. Dance, B.S. Accounting, ‘23) and Sydney Osbourne (B.A. Dance, B.A. Visual Communications ‘23) were invited to restage the work for Momenta's 40th Anniversary Concert, Coming Home. “Atlas” was the perfect canvas for a cast of diverse abilities because Fuller encourages multiple modes of inquiry and reflection, centering movement around humanity, and collaboration aimed at celebrating individual artistry. Dyer and Osbourne led weekly rehearsals with professional dancers and students in Oak Park, IL. Read more about their exciting collaborative process here.

The piece continued to draw connections between Loyola dancers and the Chicago community in April 2023. Dancers enrolled in DANC 390: Research in Dance took the stage with “Atlas” at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts in a collaborative performance with DanceWorks Chicago under the artistic direction of Julie Nakagawa. Students from local high school arts programs and Loyola dancers participated in a Q&A session and enjoyed performances by the Danceworks Company and Loyola dancers. 

Loyola dancers preparing for performance with DanceWorks Chicago company members 

With community, innovation, and creativity at its foundation, “Atlas” holds boundless potential for dancers to navigate towards a future where fruitful collaborations through dance cultivate connections between diverse voices.