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is a 2001 graduate of Columbia College, Chicago.  There she received a B.A. with a major in dance, but more importantly discovered her instinct for combining image with motion.  She began creating work that was driven by a unique movement language and steeped in a peculiar and rich sense of visual space.  Since then, Rachel has formed a company named "The Humans" and has been Artist-in-Residence at the Hamlin Park Theater since 2004.  With gratitude for all involved, she is proud recipient of four, consecutive Illinois Arts Council Awards. Honors include: selection as an Artist-in-Residence at the Canal Chapter Gallery in NYC where she spent five weeks creating a movement-based installation titled "Let's kill our sadness"; awarded three-week residency at The Atlantic Center for the Arts under the mentorship of Susan Marshall.   She and fellow dancer  Precious Jennings performed their duet "who I am (who I am not)" at Judson Church in NYC as part of the Movement Research works-in-progress showings; this duet was also part of "The A.W.A.R.D Show!"( produced by the Joyce Theater in NYC and the Dance Center of Columbia College) and a self-produced, shared evening at Links Hall,Chicago.  Rachel has been a Chicago Dancemakers Forum Lab Artist, and presented an evening-length work titled "Paper Shoes" (which was the genesis of her fascination with an episodic form).  She  also created "my my gray sky", an excerpt of which was shown at the Museum of Contemporary Art, with the full work co-produced in a shared bill at the Dance Center of Columbia College, Chicago. 



Since 2010, Kato has been an artist-in-residence at the Hamlin Park Theater under CMC's Dance Shelter Program.  She is an award-winning, Chicago-based dancer, choreographer, improviser, and teacher originally from Yokohama, Japan, and is recipient of a 2023 USA Artists Fellowship; a 2022 Esteemed Artist Award from the City of Chicago; a 2021 Illinois Arts Council Fellowship; and a 3Arts Award, among other honors.  Her most recent, celebrated work ETHOS is a multi-year project that explores Awareness, Acknowledgement, Affirmation, Allowance, and Action--it is an aesthetic and physical inquiry about an ideal ethos of humanity and how it is perceptible through dance.   Previous works include The Incidents, selected for Best of Dance 2014 (Chicago Tribune).  Since 1998, she has been an Artistic Director of Ayako Kato/Art Union Humanscape (AUH) and has presented and performed her works extensively in the U.S., Japan, and Europe, including at the International Festival of Arts and Ideas, New Haven, CT; Dance Theater Workshop, NYC; Joyce Soho, NYC; WHITE WAVE John Ryan Theater, Brooklyn, NY; Musee d'art Modern et Contemporain, Strasbourg, France; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Tahito Art MeetingFestival, Fukishima; the Chicago Jazz Festival; and beyond.  She has studied dance anatomy under Irene Dowd since 2007.  In additional to classical ballet and modern dance, she also studied Tai Chi, Noh Theater, and Butoh  with master Kazuo Ohno, one of the founders.  She holds an MFA in Dance from the University of Michigan and a Certificate from the Institute for Curatorial Practice in Performance, Wesleyan University.  Gravitating toward an eastern and Japanese view of nature, Kato's dance work seeks the way of being and illuminates the dignity of life, in response to contemporary society.

Emeritus Artists-in-Residence:  Cindy Brandle, Atalee Judy


Currently a contemporary artist based in Chicago, IL, Andrea is a performer, choreographer and seasoned educator. She is the founder and artistic director of dropshift dance, an experimental dance company dedicated to a collaborative and investigative studio practice and pushing the boundaries of movement in performance. Andrea’s work has been shown internationally in Vancouver, BC as well as locally at Defibrillator Gallery, Links Hall, The Hairpin Arts Center, I AM Logan Square Gallery, The Milwaukee Avenue Arts Festival, Produce Music and Dance Festival, Hamlin Park and Holstein Park, Chicago, IL. She is a long time collaborator and teaching artist with Zephyr Dance with whom she performed from 2004 to 2013. Andrea holds her Graduate Laban Certificate in Movement Analysis from Columbia College Chicago, and utilizes many layers of Rudolf Laban’s framework and Irmgard Bartenieff’s Fundamentals within her pedagogy and creative practices. She has performed at such Chicago venues as the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Dance Center of Columbia College, Harold Washington Library Theater, the Athenaeum Theater, and the Ruth Page Center for the Performing Arts. Andrea has also performed across many cities in Tuscany, Italy, throughout the United States, and in New York City at the Ailey Citigroup Theater, Dance Space, the Cunningham Studio Theater, Mulberry Street Theater, and Triskelion Arts.


Jessica Marasa is founder of The Watering Can and works to cultivate opportunities for herself and her community to repeatedly give and receive their interest in dance and performance. Chicago has served as a place of discovery and collaboration for Jessica since 2006 where she continues learning from and performing with Chicago’s remarkable artists including Kristina Fluty, Ayako Kato, Onye Ozuzu and Molly Shanahan. At the onset of 2014 she began creating, producing and curating her own work and the work of others to nurture her interest and investment in improvisation. This opened her path to include ongoing collaborations with master musicians Hamid Drake, Mike Reed and Ryan Packard and has taken her work to the venues Links Hall, Hamlin Park, Stage 773, Signal Ensemble Theatre and Outerspace Studios. Jessica is currently studying the practices of Body Mind Centering and Vipassana Meditation and feels honored to be a participant and contributor to the life of dance in Chicago. Recently her efforts have been included by Laura Molzhan as one of the “Dance Top 10 for 2015” in The Chicago Tribune and by Newcity as one of their “Players 50” for 2017.






is a teaching artist born and raised in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. She graduated with a BFA in Dance from Columbia College Chicago in 2019. She currently teaches with Tutu School, leads a performance troupe with Synapse Arts and, and doubles as a work-study and hip-hop teacher at Dovetail Studios. When Vanessa isn't dancing you can find her crafting in her spare time. 










began studying  martial arts in the form of Goju Ryu Karate, at the age of 14; a practice he studied and competed in for 4 years. He studied Yang Style Long Form (Tai Chi Chuan) with Hubert Lui at Columbia College Dance Center for five years, and later taught this form at CCC.  His other notable teachers include George Ling Hu, Grandmaster Shang Deng Shang, Grandmaster T.T. Liang and Master Jian Hua Guo.  In recent years Daniel has begun to learn Ba Qua Zhang and Xing Yi Chuan, which together with Tai Chi Chuan are the three martial arts that make up the “Internal School” of Chinese Martial Arts.  He has experience teaching a broad spectrum of people, young and old, infirm and athletic, including a group of psychologists on retreat at The Samuel A. Kopp Center, and therapists at Lydia House here in Chicago, (which is a home for troubled teenagers).            




is a native of Taiwan, a mover, thinker, wonderer, and a Movement Pattern Analyst. Chih-Hsien has been with Chicago-based contemporary dance company Khecari since 2013, working intently with the company in their in-depth artistic and sociological inquires. Chih-Hsien’s movement language reflects a rich cultural bearing from traditional Chinese ethnic dances and martial arts to a vast array of somatic integrations such as contact improvisation, Alexander Technique, Bartenieff Fundamentals, and the Feldenkrais Method. She creates circular worlds of kinesthesia, juxtaposition, and reflection, elucidating the subtlety, complexity, and fluidity of living. Chih-Hsien has been a Links Hall resident, a Thawalls performing artist, Moving Dialogs panelist, adjunct at Cornell College and The University of Iowa, and has performed with Chicago Moving Company, Mid-to-West Dance Collective, Synapse Arts, Project Bound, WC Dance Company (Taiwan), 30 Dance Theatre (Taiwan), Kate Corby & Dancers, Bodies in Urban Spaces, Amsterdam-Berlin-Chicago project, and The Inconvenience. Most recently, Chih-Hsien dove into a series of emotional and inclusive inquiries through movement solo work and collaborations with her partner Ben Law. They will be at Ragdale for an 18-day intensive residency in summer 2018. In addition to her dance endeavors, she works as a dance/movement therapist, EMDR therapist, and licensed professional counselor for diverse populations, helping people on their healing journey for integration. 




is a interdisciplinary dance-maker, performer, improviser, and teacher who finds it important to deeply listen to the body.  She is a part of an improvisational performance collective and collaborative project with dancers and musicians based in Chicago and New Orleans called The Instigation Orchestra with the Djasporas, and led by Steve Marquette (guitar) and Marie Casimir (dancer/writer)--where Jasmine works with and for creatives of color, providing professional resources and building community across geography,  Jasmine teaches adult yoga at CMC, worked as Resident Technician (Performance Project), and performed as part of CMC's 2019 Echo Project, Echo 3.




is a dancer, choreographer, and teacher.  Her choreographic practice uses athletic inquiry and associative rigor to make dances with driving physicality often influenced by the imagery produced in her practices of photography, layered media and video work.  Her work has been presented by Fringe Arts, Philadelphia; The Current Sessions (NYC), Festival International de Teatro Susan Alexander (Mexico), Fleet Moves Dance Festival (Cape Cod), Krannert Center for the Performing Arts (IL), The Domestic Performance Agency (NYC) and extensively in Chicago with institutions such as Links Hall, Chicago Home Theater Festival, Chicago Dance Crash, and The Inconvenience.  She has performed nationally and internationally with artists including The Seldoms, Kristina Isabelle Dance Company, Khecari Dance Theater, The Moving Architects, The Space/Movement Project, Julie Mayo, Eric Handman, Stephanie Acosta, Nico Brown, and Erin Kilmurray.  Currently she is also dancing with Abby Zbikowski.  Young received her MFA from the Department of Dance at the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign.




Affiliated Composers

    Barry Bennett

    Stone Damon


Photography:  Ashley Deran, Eddie Eng, William Frederking, Joanna Furnans,

Daniel Guidara, Jeremy Handrup, Ralph Kuehne, R. Nakazawa, Jeremy O'Donnell,

Carl Wiedemann, Jessie Young


Founder:  Nana Shineflug















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