Chicago Dancemakers Forum recognizes its 2017 Lab Artists at benefit

Chicago Dancemakers Forum 2017 Lab ArtistIn June, the Chicago Dancemakers Forum announced the recipients of the 2017 Lab Artist Awards – Brittany Harlin, Daniel “Bravemonk” Haywood, Joshua L. Ishmon, Jumaane Taylor, Rika Lin and Victoria Bradford. It was the first time since the awards’ inception that the organization increased the number of Lab Artist awards from four to six. 


On Thursday, July 13, these six Lab Artists were recognized at The Arts Club of Chicago during the 2017 Lab Artist Awards Celebration and Benefit. The evening included a cocktail reception and an awards presentation followed by a seated dinner. There was also a dance performance/presentation by 2016 Lab Artist Onye Ozuzu and a work created by Elise Cowin and 2014 Lab Artist Ginger Krebs.


Now in its second decade of supporting individual choreographers in Chicago, the Lab Artists program provides each of the awardees with a $15,000 cash grant complimented by mentorship during a year of in-depth research and exploration as they develop new work.


Chicago Dancemakers Forum’s Executive Director Ginger Farley commented, ”I am once again humbled by the range of talent and bold creativity that is taking place in the field of dance in Chicago.”


Chicago Dancemakers Forum 2017 Lab Artist Daniel “Bravemonk” HaywoodChicago Dancemakers Forum is the only organization in Chicago dedicated solely to nurturing artistic advancement in dancemaking and is also the single largest source of support for individual choreographers in the city with an open call process. Chicago has seen a remarkable increase in the quality and depth of dancemaking in the 14 years since its Lab Artist Awards program began.


NewCity’s Players 2017 testifies to both this impact and activity, “Chicago Dancemakers Forum constantly drives the wind into the sails of the Chicago dance community. Chicago live arts are undergoing a renaissance, many thanks to Farley’s deft, sensitive and knowledgeable leadership of an organization at the cutting edge.”


Chicago Dancemakers Forum’s past 48 Lab Artists differ in age, gender, race, sexuality, discipline and dance forms, including Bharatanatyam, Butoh, Chicago footwork, tap, contemporary dance, dance for the camera, modern dance, voguing, and more. This year’s cohort will continue to honor Chicago’s many dance communities and original perspectives. 


Chicago Dancemakers Forum 2017 Lab Artist Joshua L. IshmonThrough a two-stage process, the six 2017 Lab Artists were selected by a panel made up of local and national arts presenters and curators, grantors and artists for their “outstanding creative work and potential for artistic growth.” Each Lab Artist has identified a unique path of investigation that will lead to a new dance work. The grant and mentorship provided through the Lab allows awardees the time, funding and resources necessary to fully explore their visions, conduct research related to their artistic interests and develop new work in response to this in-depth creative process. 


For more information, visit Learn more about each 2017 Lab Artist below.


BRITTANY HARLIN’S focus is Hip Hop, Street Styles and Somatic Theory. She studied dance at Loyola University Chicago, and her work has been featured in events and venues such as Fantabuloso, Links Hall and Dance Chicago. Harlin’s mission is to create solidarity between diverse backgrounds. She aims to begin a movement that brings street dance and concert dance together cohesively, using Somatic Theory to develop pedagogy that connects movers to physical technique and mindfulness of the implications of adopting street movement — mainly the participation in the socio-political movement that is Hip Hop.


Chicago Dancemakers Forum 2017 Lab Artist Jumaane TaylorDANIEL“BRAVEMONK” HAYWOOD, a cultural ambassador and leader in the Hip-Hop community, has served both nationally and internationally as an artist, performer, educator, choreographer, host, judge and competitor over the last 18 years. BRAVEMONK is a member of Chicago’s internationally recognized breaking crew Phaze II Crosstown Crew (established in 1982), co-founding director of BraveSoul Movement, a founding contributor and co-host of Power Style Radio, and an advisory board member of Chicago Dance History Project. During his year with Chicago Dancemakers Forum, BRAVEMONK will collaborate on an exploration in pushing creative boundaries for the concert stage while staying rooted and connected to the Afro-diasporic cultural lineage of Hip-Hop and street dance forms. 


JOSHUA L. ISHMON studied dance at Emerson School for Visual and Performing Arts, M.A.D.D. Rhythms, Ballet Chicago, and Deeply Rooted Dance Theater. He joined Deeply Rooted’s second company in 2007, and their first company in 2009. Ishmon performs, teaches and choreographs for companies and schools across the Midwest. Passionate about investigating the often-negative perceptions associated with the word, color and race “black,” Ishmon will facilitate community conversations and movement studies on the topic during his time as a Lab Artist. This research will inform an original score and choreography that will be presented on stage with musicians.


Chicago Dancemakers Forum 2017 Lab Artist Rika LinJUMAANE TAYLOR is a tap artist who began his training at the Sammy Dyer School of the Theatre. He has performed and studied with Bril Barrett, Idella Reed Davis, Jimmy Payne Jr. and Sarah Saveloy, and has travelled internationally to perform tap. Taylor sees tap as a full music and dance entity. He wants to continue his exploration of the musicality of tap dance and its timeless relationship with Jazz music through a project and performance series that revitalizes how contemporary society views tap. Taylor’s goal is to strengthen the natural relationship between Jazz and tap artists and elevate tap’s visibility throughout the city of Chicago.


RIKA LIN (FUJIMA YOSHINOJO) is a second generation Japanese-American performing artist, choreographer and Grandmaster in Fujima style Japanese classical dance, and has performed in venues such as the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago Cultural Center, Jay Pritzker Pavilion, as well as within the community and educational outreach programs. Yoshinojo blends traditional aesthetics with contemporary music and movement practices to make traditional dance pieces relevant with 21st century issues of roles and identity. During her year with Chicago Dancemakers Forum, she will explore the concept of “asobi” or “play” as it relates to the perception of time while performing and the generational perception of gender differences.


Chicago Dancemakers Forum 2017 Lab Artist Victoria BradfordVICTORIA BRADFORD works in the fields of performance, video and installation, with training in the visual arts and upbringing in theatre, dance and voice. MCA Chicago, Governors State University, Gallery 400 are among the many art spaces where she has produced work. Bradford understands the body as a physical presence that has the power to intervene in systems much larger than itself and bring a sense of scale to the paradoxes and conundrums of our times. As a Lab Artist, she is planning a relay from the headwaters to the mouth of the Mississippi River. One choreographer, three dancers and an archivist will run downriver, stopping at nearly 100 towns and cities where they will listen and share with the residents of the community in a workshop utilizing movement, dialogue, and witnessing. Bradford explains, “We run because the story demands it, an effort to revive the human element of the discourse in which our country is so consumed.”


Photos: 2017 Lab Artists (from top to bottom) Brittany Harlin, Daniel “Bravemonk” Haywood, Joshua L. Ishmon, Jumaane Taylor, Rika Lin and Victoria Bradford. Photos courtesy of the Chicago Dancemakers Forum.