After a seven-year hiatus, Jay-Son Tisa Dance Company returns to the Chicago stage February 10. The company plans on making a splash with its return, presenting 15 pieces over the course of two nights.
Company members have been rehearsing the show for two years, occasionally presenting pieces at dance festivals throughout the Midwest. But this weekend marks the first official show for the company since 2010.
Friday night’s New Dance Series features choreography by company dancers, who have remained dedicated to the company over the last couple of years. It also features a sneak peak of three pieces from Saturday’s performance of Resurface.
“The Saturday show is basically a biography of me and [co-founder] Mary [Tisa] and our lives,” company co-founder Derek Jayson Rusch said. “[It’s] sort of a mosaic of different things we have experienced in the past seven years.”
The pieces include an exploration of adoption (both Rusch and Tisa are adopted), a sense of community during shifting political and social currents, an interracial relationship, the sense of loss, and a cross-country move.
Rusch and Tisa first met while dancing in Washington, D.C., later establishing the Jay-Son Tisa Dance Company after both had moved to Chicago.
“When I first moved to Chicago 12 or 13 years ago, Derek was one of the first people I danced for,” Tisa said. “We saw that we had a really similar movement esthetic.”
Both come from modern dance backgrounds and use choreography as their outlet for working through the trials and events within their own lives. The dancing they create focuses on story, eschewing traditional programs for short videos between pieces that keep people within the confines of a show’s emotion without the interruption of lights.
Although Rusch runs the company outside of his regular 9-5 corporate job and Tisa recently relocated to Seattle, their outlook for the company is optimistic.
“I’ve been so happy with what we have built,” Tisa said. “We’ve built a really cohesive group of people.”
The pair said moving forward they hope to have a show each year. But for the present, they just hope the audience walks away with some inspiration this weekend.
“It’s really important that our audience does sort of feel something and have some sort of visceral reaction,” Rusch said. “I just want them to connect with us.”
New Dance Series takes place February 10 at 7 p.m., and Resurface takes place February 11 at 7 p.m. Both shows run at the Hoover-Leppen Theater, 3656 N. Halsted St. Tickets are $10-$12 and can be purchased at www.jaysontisadancecompany.com.