Written by Laura Gates, Artistic Associate at Thodos Dance Chicago

Melissa Thodos and Dancers originated in 1992. I joined the company as a guest artist in 1999, and, well…I just sort of stayed.  We had ten dancers the year I joined the company, six women and four men.  At that time, almost all of our repertory was choreographed by Melissa. The artistic staff was Melissa. The administrative staff was her husband, Rick.  We toured to local and Midwestern venues.  We drove to all of them. Our season culminated with a home concert at the Harold Washington Library, a 385-seat theater. Our office was in the laundry room at Melissa and Rick’s home…

We now have 13 salaried company members and 6 interns. I know them to be the hardest working and most talented artists in Chicago. Our repertory is peppered with the beautiful works of Melissa Thodos, as well as many renowned choreographers and collaborators. Our artistic and administrative staff is a dream team of extraordinary individuals, who provide endless support to Melissa, me, and the dancers: an executive director; a bookings director; an education, outreach, and operations manager; a marketing and social media coordinator; a production and rehearsal assistant; a resident lighting designer and production manager; and a resident costume designer. We’ve toured nationally and internationally. This season, we had a home concert at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie, and we’ll have our final performance as an ensemble-based company at the Auditorium Theatre, a beautiful venue with 3,901 seats. I honestly can’t believe the progression…our office even has its own laundry room!

Eighteen years later, I have this unique perspective, one that no one else in the organization shares with me except Melissa and Rick. I have witnessed the amazing trajectory of this company firsthand. I have countless cherished memories. In this moment of reflection, I feel many different emotions, but the one that pushes to the surface, produces the most tears, and resonates the loudest within me, is pride.

I can say with full certainty that no one has worked harder or more diligently than the individuals who have contributed to this organization’s continued growth and success. It is with bittersweet adoration that I will watch the company’s final performance. I wish every audience member could see it through my lens.

Congratulations, Melissa and Thodos Dance Chicago, on a magnificent journey. Thank you for all the incredible opportunities you have provided along the way.