Nov 26, 2019
This week on 5.6.7.EIGHT, Aleksandra interviews Melissa Thodos, owner of Thodos Dance Chicago — a dance company who, for over a quarter of a century, has performed in over 25 states and 6 different continents. Her school not only trains dancers but also nurtures these dancers to eventually become choreographers and educators, handing down dance expertise from generation to generation. Through Thodos Dance Chicago, Melissa has collaborated with notable artists such as Ann Reinking, Yoko Ono, and Jeanne Gang, to name a few.
On the podcast, Melissa retails the incredible 27-year history of her company, including her company’s inception, how her incredible partnership with Ann Reinking came to be, and what makes her company unique from many others. Additionally, Melissa spends time sharing some incredible wisdom around the importance of being challenged as a company founder, the importance of building a resilient dance company, and how to strategically select members of a nonprofit board, to name a few.
“If you’re the founder [of a company], you want to find new things that challenge you as an artist.”
“I think it’s important to have a board that all comes together in agreement on one thing — the artform that you’re providing."
“The women in my life — my mother, my aunts — were all amazing role models for me to figure out how to make something that I loved work. There’s no blueprint, but because they did it, I thought to myself, ‘I can do it.’"
“Knowledge is so important, especially in difficult times."
“Having diversity on your board creates a potential for sustainability, which is really important in the ebbs and flows and changes of our times."
Bullet Points (w/ timestamps) - Highlighting key topics discussed:
3:14: Melissa discusses how Thodos Dance Chicago began when one door closed and another door opened.
5:23: Melissa describes how her company’s board was initially formed and the balancing act of acting strategically as the company’s founder while also being a dancer.
7:55: Thodos explains what makes her company unique — featuring and nurturing the American voice of dance.
10:04: Melissa retells how partnering with a Broadway legend opened the door to some incredible, large scale projects and performances.
17:31: Thodos gives some practical advice around preparing a company to go on tour.
21:36: Thodos shares an incredible story of how her company’s versatility helped resolve what could have been a catastrophe, just hours before the opening performance.
24:18: Melissa discusses who she would consider her mentors, including persons both in and out of the dance world.
26:04: Melissa shares a story about a difficult time in her company’s past and how this trying season ended up pulling her team closer together.
29:44: Thodos gives some practical advice around choosing board members and diversifying the skillsets of those sitting on your board
33:10: Melissa casts some vision for the next 3 to 5 years and discusses her desire to give young choreographers a platform to show off their skills.
Bullet List of Resources –
Thodos Dance Chicago