Thodos History

Thodos Dance Chicago (TDC) was founded in 1992 as a Chicago- based contemporary dance company whose mission is to promote contemporary dance as a cultural activity in the local community and throughout the United States through performance, creation of new works, and education (including audience development).  The company was founded by Artistic Director Melissa Thodos, a choreographer, educator and performer for over 30 years.

TDC first performed in 1992 in Dance for Life (benefiting AIDS research) and the Ruth Page Dance Series.   In 1997, TDC grew to the point where it became an Illinois not-for-profit corporation with 501(c)(3) status.  In 2001 TDC presented its first annual New Dances concert at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts, encouraging emerging choreographers to create new works.  Since its inception, over 25 works from New Dances have been incorporated into the company repertory.  Several works have been performed internationally and in renown domestic venues such as Jacob’s Pillow.   Other works from New Dances have been performed by the Joffrey Ballet and Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, among others.  New Dances works by company members Jessica Miller Tomlinson and Jackie Stewart received first prize in the 2009 and 2010 AWARD show sponsored by the Joyce Foundation, the only two years this prize was been awarded.

In 2003, TDC partnered with the Menomonee Club for Boys & Girls, where the Company continues to rehearse every weekday.  After rehearsal, the Company is responsible for the youth dance program where company members teach dance classes to children from over 30 schools in the Chicago area.    Over the years TDC has grown its educational and community mission by working with public school children of all ages.  It has completed residential outreach programs in more than 200 schools and community facilities since inception.

TDC has collaborated with several classical music organizations, including the Ravinia Festival, Fulcrum Point (three times), the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and most recently the Music and Movement Festival at the Auditorium Theater.

In 2008 the company had its first collaboration with an art museum, in an interactive exhibit at the Loyola University Museum of Art commemorating the 25th anniversary of Andy Warhol’s “Silver Clouds.”  That same year “Anasa,” choreographed by Melissa Thodos, was awarded Second Prize in 11th Annual Dance Under the Stars Choreography Festival in Palm Desert California, a leading competition for dance choreography in the United States (she also won Second Prize in 2010 for “Cascade”).  In 2009 the company had its first performance in the Eastern Hemisphere (Busan, Korea), had its first performance at the renown Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, its first full evening performance at the Harris Theater and received its first grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

In 2011 the company created its first story ballet “White City,” which was named “Best Dance of the Year” by the Chicago Sun Times.  A documentary of the making of the piece “Beneath the White City Lights” was nominated for an Emmy Award in 2012.  The company’s second story ballet, “A Light in the Dark” (about Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan) was created in 2013.  In addition to numerous live performances, the piece was filmed for television and received a 2014 Emmy nomination.  Both story ballets where choreographed by Melissa Thodos and Anne Reinking.  In the fall of 2014, the company had its first full evening performance in the renowned Auditorium Theatre in Chicago to an audience of over 1,300, as part of the theater’s 125th anniversary series.