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Harris Theater Hires Its Own Choreographer: Brian Brooks

Brian Brooks with Wendy Whelan in Restless Creature. Photo by Christopher Duggan, courtesy Jacob's Pillow.

Brian Brooks must be having a good day today: Chicago's Harris Theater for Music and Dance just announced that he will be its first-ever choreographer in residence. The unlikely new position means that the 41-year-old choreographer from New York has been tapped to create new works for Hubbard Street Dance Chicago (the Harris' company in residence), Miami City Ballet and Brooks' own Brian Brooks Moving Company. Additional companies will be announced at a later date. Each piece will either premiere at the Harris, or be presented there after opening in another city.

Brian Brooks. Photo by Jim Lafferty.

The residency comes with a $600,000 fellowship—half will be used to pay Brooks a $100,000 annual salary, and the other half will be spent on production costs. The money comes from the Jay Franke and David Herro Choreographer in Residence Fund through the Imagine campaign.

Brooks is known for his "dizzyingly dense" phrase work, and was the highlight of Wendy Whelan's Restless Creature program for many critics and audience members. As Siobhan Burke wrote in The New York Times: "The coiling fullness of Mr. Brooks’s choreography, brimming with detail, frequently mesmerizes; you wonder how the dancers keep up. Yet a sameness of rhythm and mood also creeps in."

This opportunity will give Brooks a chance to expand his voice by working with new dancers over a longer period of time than dancemakers typically get during the creation process. The Harris says Brooks will hold just the first of several residencies to come. The emerging mid-sized theater wants to invest in choreographers, giving them the funds and time to create works for the regional, national and international troupes that come through its doors. The New York Times reports that the Harris hopes this residency will not only help choreographers, but put the theater on the map outside Chicago. It sounds like an all-around fabulous idea to us.


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