Loyola University Chicago


Department of Fine and Performing Arts


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

Renowned Choreographer Rena Butler Premiers "I. First" at Loyola

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.