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Jan 28, 2020

This week on 5.6.7.EIGHT, Aleksandra interviews Wade Schaaf, Founder and Artistic Director at Chicago Repertory Ballet. Wade — a Chicago native and graduate of Northern Illinois University — is a veteran ballet dancer who has danced for a number of ballet companies such as the Ohio Ballet, Thodos Dance Chicago, and others. Upon retiring from the stage, Wade went on to establish his very own ballet company, which debuted in 2011 to glowing reviews and has since become a staple of the Chicago arts community. Additionally, Wade is an experienced and passionate Pilates instructor.

To Wade, dance is all about the story, and his company has consistently woven top-notch storytelling and unique innovation together on the stage. On the podcast, Wade explains how creating his own dance company was in an effort to achieve this story-driven art that he had always dreamt about, yet he is honest about the learning curve associated with owning your own business. Throughout the conversation, Wade shares more about his dance journey, his successes, his failures, and wisdom around putting in the tough work to achieve your goals, your passions, and true artistic freedom.

Moving Quotes:

“I thought, for me, starting a company would probably be the best option to have the most artistic freedom to create whatever I wanted to create. That’s when I set my eyes out to start a company."

“Yes, there has been a big crossover between art and technology… but at the same time, concert dance is a phenomenal opportunity for people that are oversaturated with imagery all the time and have a very fast-paced life. Going to sit down in a theater and encounter something in real-time that human beings have created is a phenomenal reset button for people."

“It’s the simple, beautiful things in life that bring me so much joy."

“For dancers, I think Pilates is actually very important work because dancers are very strong in some ways but can be very weak in other ways. Pilates targets the things that dancers really need."

Bullet Points (w/ timestamps) - Highlighting key topics discussed:

2:56: Wade discusses his role at the Chicago Repertory Ballet and shares the story of its founding.

5:18: Wade describes how his company’s ballet style — a story-driven collision between ballet and contemporary dance — is different from other more traditional ballet styles.

7:29: Schaaf explains how he found himself in his first-ever dance class at the age of 15.

8:29: Schaaf shares about his experience being an entrepreneur and retells a challenge that he’s experienced thus far while owning his own business.

12:23: Wade explains how he attained funding in the early days of his business and discusses his company’s overarching vision.

15:44: Schaaf discusses dance’s role in today’s world and explains how consuming the arts is life’s greatest “reset button.”

17:31: Schaaf gives some advice for young people that may be looking to explore a dance career or a career in a dance-related field.

19:49: Wade — who is also a Pilates instructor — describes the benefits that Pilates can have for both dancers and non-dancers.

21:18: Wade speaks to the pride he has in one of his company’s greatest achievements.

22:29: Wade shares one funny story and one failure from his time leading a dance company.

Bullet List of Resources – 

Wade Schaaf


Chicago Repertory Ballet