The Dance COLEctive Celebrates 20 Years With Live Stream

Erin Jaffe, Alaina Murray, Julie Brannen, Shannon Edwards, Jamie Corliss, Margi Cole, Liz Conway, Julie Boruff, Melissa Pillarella Photo by William Frederking

If you celebrate the first anniversary with paper and the fifth anniversary with wood, is digital the new 20th anniversary gift?

On March 8, Chicago’s The Dance COLEctive will broadcast live two dance performances in honor of the company’s 20th anniversary. While The Dance COLEctive company members have their own anniversary performances beginning March 11, the March 8 live stream–on the date of the company’s actual anniversary–features a different group of dancers: young students under the tutelage of former The Dance COLEctive performers.

“Something that has transpired over 20 years…is I’m beginning to be a master teacher and a mentor and have been passing down ideas and an aesthetic and a teaching philosophy,” said The Dance COLEctive founder and artistic director Margi Cole. “It’s kind of reflective of the opportunity to recognize the history of the company.”

Cole visited each group of dancers in the weeks leading up to the live stream and said the dancers work with integrity and dedication.

The dancers performing on March 8 come from Vernon Hills, Ill. and Chattanooga, Tenn. A third group of students from Chicago’s Riverside Brookfield High School will take the stage with the company during their March performances.

The former company members chose which pieces their dancers would perform. In both cases, they picked pieces they previously danced in.

Erin Dreese Jaffe, who danced with the company from 2003 until 2007, has her Vernon Hills High School students performing a 2004 work, Sinking In. Laurel Moore Zahrobsky, one of The Dance COLEctive’s founding members, has her students at Girls Preparatory School in Chattanooga performing Who Are You? , created from the framework of Creative Candor.

“My students are excited to be viewed live,” Zahrobsky said. “We have never really done that before. They love being a small part of a bigger celebration and are excited to participate because it gives them another connection.”

The idea for a live stream came about as a way for people all over the world to join in The Dance COLective’s anniversary celebration.

“I’m trying to be current,” said Cole. “It seems practical and it seems far-reaching and it seems current, and all those things seem important for an organization that’s turning 20 and thinking about how it’s going to create sustainability for itself for the next 20 years.”

As for whether there will be future live streams, it doesn’t seem out of the question.

“You have to think about adapting in terms of space and create a performance venue for yourself,” said Cole. “Live streaming seems like a real opportunity to be creative, and I’m just dipping my toe in it.”

The live stream begins at 2 p.m. Central Time on Periscope under the @DanceCOLEctive account.

The Dance COLEctive company performs on March 11-13 and March 18-20 at 7 p.m. at Links Hall. For more information, visit or

Miriam Finder Annenberg
Miriam Finder Annenberg