After 23 years leading the renowned River North Dance Chicago dance troupe, acclaimed choreographer Frank Chaves will retire as artistic director this fall.
After 23 years at the helm of one of Chicago’s most celebrated dance companies, celebrated choreographer Frank Chaves will retire as River North Dance Chicago (RNDC) artistic director following a special 2015 fall engagement in Chicago. The 2015 “Chicagoan of the Year” (Chicago Tribune) departs RNDC at a time when the critically-acclaimed company seeks both a new executive director as well as artistic director to lead them into a new chapter with a renewed strategic direction and goals in order to build upon the success that Chaves has long worked to create.
An internationally recognized choreographer, teacher, mentor and industry leader, Frank Chaves has dedicated his life to the creation and advancement of contemporary jazz dance. Chaves’ body of work and artistic vision has buoyed River North Dance into one the country’s premiere dance companies, notable for technical precision, emotive dancers, commanding choreography and versatile repertoire. Chaves’ fluid and evocative choreography invites the viewer to experience the spectrum of human emotions, and in his 23 years with RNDC, he has created 25 works for the company, curated a diverse repertoire of the world’s most well-known and respected dance makers; and mentored generations of new dancers.
“To keep a contemporary dance company alive for 25 years — let alone to oversee its artistic growth and foster the development of an international reputation — is nothing less than a Herculean feat.” (Chicago Sun Times).
After being diagnosed with a degenerative spinal cord condition, syringomyelia, a little over ten years ago, Chaves continued to do what he loved to the best of his ability. With the help of the RNDC dancers, Chaves explored a different creative process and was actually able to create some of his best work to date including “Havana Blue,” “Eva” as well as his first piece choreographed completely from his wheelchair, “In the End.”
“It has been one of the greatest pleasures of my life to serve as the artistic director for River North Dance Chicago over the past 23 years,” noted Chaves. “It is not often that someone is able to work with a group of people that are passionate, innovative, versatile and fiercely dedicated all at the same time, but I have been fortunate enough to surround myself with those types of people from the very beginning of this incredible journey. I know that RNDC will continue to do extraordinary things and I am excited about the bright future ahead, both for myself as well as this remarkable organization.”
As Chaves takes the time to focus on other endeavors including his health, his departure sets the stage for River North to find new leadership with a fresh perspective that will carry the company into the next generation. A search committee is being formed with representation from across the arts landscape for an executive director/general manager as well as an artistic director. According to a company statement, “both searches will attempt to balance the need for a strong connection to Chicago’s arts performance and funding community, while ensuring that the new artistic product has both domestic as well as international appeal.”
RNDC’s two new executive leaders will be expected to guide the organization through its next phase of transformation, expanding on its existing strategic partnerships to produce new opportunities for performance growth and collaboration, expanding its donor and funding relationships, and creating new revenue generating opportunities that leverage its new artistic product. In an effort to ensure successful implementation of these critical steps, RNDC is shortening its 2015 – 2016 season to end after the upcoming fall engagement and benefit in Chicago. The company will plan to resume its regular performance season in the fall of 2016.
For more information about the upcoming fall performance and benefit, visit rivernorthchicago.com.
Clef Notes Chicagoland Journal for the Arts
Frank Chaves Retiring as Artistic Director for River North Dance Chicago