Synapse Arts is a dance-theater company based in Chicago. We present professional performances, teach classes to children and adults, and mentor emerging artists. All of our work supports women and people who identify as LGBTQIA+.
Title: Leverage, Premiere date: April 2019, 12 minutes, this quartet with handheld lights is a low-tech performance that can be done in person, virtually (such as via Zoom), and will premiere as a dance film in January 2021.
Currently we utilize this piece as interactive programming with remote learning students who watch a pre-recorded video clip, then watch a "live" virtual performance by Synapse artists, and are then led through an exercise of practicing movement with a light on themselves. This is part of our Social Emotional Learning (SEL) program.
This video shows 5 minutes from a 12 minute long, episodic dance piece titled "Leverage". Portions of each of the four episodes are shown in this work sample, to give the viewer an idea of how the work unfolds.
This low-tech but high-impact dance-theater piece is included in this application as an example from the proposed Synapse Arts program. The full program consists of four performance pieces with Social Emotional Learning (SEL) touch points; the full program exhibits emotions, self-care, individuality, and self-expression. "Leverage" is one of these four performance pieces because the premise of "Leverage" is autonomy. The piece was inspired by Director Damon's experiences with leveraging opportunities in her creative life.
In episode one, each woman has the agency to choose what she conceals or reveals based on turning her handheld light on or off. In episode two, we see outside forces altering how the duets appear, and in episode three a solo dancer is surrounded by imposing forces, which she subverts by appearing to surrender and then unplugging. Episode four shows the quartet coordinating support of one another and leaving a soloist to make her choices.
Founded in 2004 and led by Director Rachel Damon, Synapse Arts is dedicated to collaborative performance-making that weaves dance into a multidisciplinary context.
Synapse has toured across the midwest and internationally, earning accolades from MetLife, The Illinois Arts Council, 3Arts, and many others. The company gained momentum in 2009 with Stridulate, named one the Best Dance Performances of 2009 by NewCity. In 2010, Damon was awarded a prestigious Lab Artist grant by the Chicago Dancemakers Forum. Her 2013 piece Swath was called "the kind of work artists (and audiences) move to big cities for" by NewCity Chicago and in 2015 the Chicago Tribune praised Synapse performers as "true masters of the form" for their performances of You're So Stubborn, commissioned by The City of Chicago's DCASE. Damon's multi-year cycle of "textile dances", which blend dance with fiber arts, installation, and live music culminated in 2018 with award-winning "Light Hand", an ensemble work that travels through the historic Gunder House. Her current piece "Leverage" earned multiple special grants and residencies and will premiere as a dance film in 2021.
In addition to Synapse's professional performances, the company has two other core programs. New Works is one of the few comprehensive incubators for ambitious young dance-theater makers in Chicago, and as an Arts Partner in Residence, Synapse offers weekly classes to children and adults at Loyola Park and Berger Park Cultural Center.
Synapse Arts creates, performs, and educates to nurture individual identities and challenge social norms by engaging artists and audiences in the making of dance-theater.
Synapse Arts works towards a world where individuals are free to develop their unique talents and express their singular visions using their minds and whole bodies. We specifically encourage individuals whose creativity is not fully supported by the dominant society, most notably women; those who identify as LGBTQIA+; families of varying economic, ethnic and cultural origins; and children. We believe that those who seek arts and arts education should not face undue obstacles due to location or cost. While valuing the development of each individual, Synapse equally values cooperation and affords situations in which people come together in creative work, collective processes, and ensemble efforts. Based in Chicago, we work locally and think globally, recognizing that our vision can move through social and artistic networks that defy geographic boundaries.
Programs for Specific Audience(s) Expertise
The art work and company culture of Synapse Arts builds safe spaces, creates community, and elevates underrepresented female, LGBTQIA+, and BIPOC voices. We believe it is important for viewers to be able to see themselves in the art, so the company represents inclusivity in our casting.
Synapse education programs are taught by professional teaching artists and foster creativity, individual expression, and wellbeing. Educational programming goals include students experiencing themselves as artists, students connecting with each other, and the teaching of Social Emotional Learning (SEL) tenets through dance, such as noticing one's feelings and being able to sense them physically. Specific SEL tenets touched on in this program are:
Self-Awareness: Identifying emotions, self-confidence, self-efficacy
Social Awareness: perspective taking, empathy
Relationship Skills: communication, teamwork
The company works to build connections between live art and students/viewers. By offering opportunities for people to develop their ability to perceive and analyze artistic work, we invest in their immediate creativity and their long term connection to the arts. When watching professional dancers, students learn movement languages of Body and Space as well as ways to integrate culture into daily life, gaining confidence and ownership as an audience member.
1442 W. Jarvis Ave
Chicago, IL 60626
$1,500 - $7,500