Melissa Thodos, Founder & Artistic Director

Melissa Thodos has been described by critics as “a choreographer with a bright and lively imagination.” The Chicago Sun-Times wrote: “Thodos displays a fine musicality and elegant lyricism; there is a sort of New Age mysticism about much of her work. She is a skillful and eclectic choreographer with a talent for creating a well-defined mood and interesting group patterns.” In 1992, Thodos founded Thodos Dance Chicago and has developed it into an established national and international touring company. The environment Melissa has created also serves as an incubator for its artists as choreographers and as teachers. The Chicago Sun-Times wrote: “In her third decade leading her own company, Melissa Thodos continues to look in every direction. Past styles and even past eras, a great diversity of contemporary dance forms of choreography and even its dancers all fall within her active gaze.” Melissa Thodos has a long history of collaborating with a variety of artists. Teaming up with Tony-award winning choreographer Ann Reinking , she created two critically acclaimed story ballets “The White City: Chicago’s Columbian Exposition of 1893”, voted the best dance of 2011 by the Chicago Sun-Times, and “A Light in the Dark: the story of Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan,” named one of the top 10 dances of 2013 by the Chicago Sun-Times. Melissa choreographed a work with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and in 2007 created “Cascade” set to music by Maurice Ravel for the Ravinia Festival. She was recently commissioned by the Auditorium Theatre in Chicago to choreograph an original work to a violin concerto by Pugnani. In spring 2014, Melissa teamed up with world renowned architect Jeanne Gang to create “Changes of Phase,” an innovative, cross-medium work that transcends the realms of dance, architecture and physics. Born in Evanston (IL), Melissa received early dance training at the Evanston School of Ballet. She continued her study of both classical and contemporary technique at Skidmore College in Saratoga, New York. Following graduation, she performed for eight years with the Chicago Repertory Dance Ensemble, in venues all over the world. Thodos and her company have been the recipient of numerous awards and grants including the National Endowment for the Arts; Illinois Arts Council Fellowships; a Chicago Dance Achievement Award and an award from the State of Illinois for nurturing and training dancers and choreographers in Chicago. One of her signature works, “Reaching There”, was a semi-finalist at the Internationale Dance de Paris. Thodos was featured in Today’s Chicago Woman as one of Chicago’s “100 Women in Chicago Making a Difference,” and was voted one of Chicago’s “top ten hidden talents” by the Chicago Tribune. She was one of nine finalists selected nationally for the “Women of Worth” award in New York City. Melissa has also served as a panelist for numerous grant adjudications including the City of Chicago Cultural Grants Program, the IL Arts Council Grants Panel, and the Rasmuson Foundation Individual Artist Awards in Alaska.