The Legacy of Chicago Dance | Newberry

The Legacy of Chicago Dance

Promotional poster for the Pavley-Oukrainsky Ballet School's new season, 1921-22. From the Newberry's Ann Barzel Dance Research Collection (Dance MS Barzel Research, Subject Files, Box 340)

Promotional poster for the Pavley-Oukrainsky Ballet School’s new season, 1921-22. From the Newberry’s Ann Barzel Dance Research Collection (Dance MS Barzel Research, Subject Files, Box 340)

Saturday, April 27, 2019Saturday, July 6, 2019

Roger J. Trienens Galleries

Free and open to the public
Open to the Public

The Newberry exhibition galleries will be closed on Thursday, July 4, and will re-open at 8:15 am on Friday, July 5.

Plan your visit to see this free exhibition.

What defines and distinguishes Chicago dance and the city’s dance community? Many dance styles converge and coexist in Chicago, from ballet and flamenco to jazz, tap, contemporary/modern, house, and dances from around the world. Influenced not only by early European dance styles and trends, but also by Indigenous communities and their dances, Chicago continues to serve as a uniquely wide-ranging hub for dance.

In order to understand the brilliance of the Chicago dance community today, it is necessary to uncover its history. The Legacy of Chicago Dance explores this vast and rich history through the Newberry Library’s extensive dance collection—much of which is derived from the archives of Chicago’s powerhouse dancers, choreographers, teachers, and companies.

Many leaders in the world of dance got their start in Chicago and its surrounding regions. Choreographers, dancers, and founders of dance companies not only performed in Chicago, but some stayed and continued their work in the Windy City. Many were born and raised in the area and developed their artistic forms in Chicago throughout their lives. Others left Chicago and returned later on, bringing back new stylistic influences that would be absorbed into the Chicago dance culture.

This exhibition is curated by Alison Hinderliter and Samantha Smith, of the Newberry’s Modern Manuscripts Section.

Our exhibition galleries are open 8:15 am to 5 pm Mondays, Fridays and Saturdays, and 8:15 am to 7:30 pm Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays; closed Sundays.

The Legacy of Chicago Dance exhibition has been generously supported by Patti Selander Eylar and Charles Gardner and Diane and Richard Weinberg. Additional support is provided by the Rosaline G. Cohn Endowment for Exhibitions. Support for public programs for The Legacy of Chicago Dance is provided by Cindy and Stephen Mitchell and the Morrison-Shearer Foundation.

Explore the Newberry’s Midwest Dance Collection, which encompasses over 3,200 books and periodicals on dance history, as well as over 80 manuscript collections from dancers, dance companies, dance schools and studios, and other dance affiliates. Download a PDF flyer about upcoming dance-related public programs to post and distribute.

Your generosity is vital in keeping the library’s programs, exhibitions, and reading rooms free and accessible to everyone. Make a donation today.


The Newberry is offering docent-led tours of the exhibition every Friday and Saturday at 2 pm while the show is open. These tours are free to attend, and no reservations are required.

Private tours can be arranged for groups of 10 or more, during exhibition hours, based on staff and docent availability. Please schedule a private tour at least two weeks in advance; contact Rebecca Haynes, Manager of Volunteers, at or (312) 255-3526.

Cost and Registration Information 

Free and open to the public.