Synapse Arts

Rachel Damon (Chicago, IL) is a designer, choreographer, and performer whose career bridges onstage and backstage. As a co-founder and the Artistic Director of Synapse Arts, she has been honored to receive awards from organizations such as the Chicago Dancemakers Forum, the Illinois Arts Council, MetLife, The Saints, 3Arts, and The Department of Cultural Affairs for works that have been presented throughout the Midwest and in Europe. In addition to her work with Synapse, she is a Stage Manager at Blue Man Group. Rachel loves to knit while watching action movies, and she eats dessert every day.

Synapse Arts (Chicago, IL) was founded in 2004 by three Columbia College students. In 2007, Damon was elected as Artistic Director, and in this capacity she established staff roles, developed a board of directors, and set a cycle of programming in motion.

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. This mission is carried out through three main programs: professional presentations, the artist development program New Works, and weekly dance classes for children and adults.

The company’s first evening-length piece was made possible with support from a CROSSCUT grant from Experimental Sound Studio and Links Hall. The piece “Stridulate” blended vocal and choreographic expression, was named one the Best Dance Performances of 2009 by NewCity, and the work went on to tour to France. As a 2010 recipient of The Chicago Dancemakers Forum Lab Artist Award, Director Rachel Damon created “Factor Ricochet”, an ensemble work which laid the groundwork for her methodology. A 2012 award from the MetLife New Stages for Dance Program introduced the company to the national dance community with a commission by The Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago. The company has since been presented at venues such as The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, The Athenaeum Theater, The Chicago Cultural Center, and venues throughout the Midwest such as the TEK BOX, The Southern Theater, and Intermedia Arts. The company celebrated its 10th season with the 2015 premiere of “You’re So Stubborn”, a DCASE Storefront Theater commission. 2016 was largely dedicated to the development and presentation of “Openwork”, a project that blends dance and textiles, created with support from 3Arts.

Synapse Arts became an Arts Partner in Residence at Loyola Park in 2014. Through this symbiotic relationship, Synapse maintains a rehearsal home and provides high-quality dance classes and free arts programs to the public. A new Board of Directors was ushered in beginning in 2014, with support from The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation and training through The Arts and Business Council’s On BOARD program. Synapse is honored to offer a 2017 season with commissions from Pivot Arts Festival, Make Music Chicago, and composer Tim Daisy, as well as the company's first appearance in Elevate Chicago Dance and Harvest Chicago Contemporary Dance Festival.

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Matthew Gregory Hollis (duet) William Frederking (solo)