Creative Exchange with Danza Teatro Retazos

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$5,001 raised of $5,000 goal
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Funded on September 15, 2016
    • 100% contributed

My project is to undertake an artistic exchange between my dance company, Lucky Plush Productions, and the Cuban-based group, Danza Teatro Retazos. The dissolving of barriers between our two countries provides an unparalleled opportunity for us to visit Cuba for an immersive, shared exploration of creative practices and reciprocate by hosting Retazos here in Chicago. My primary goal is to find inspiration from diverse approaches and to shake up personal habits. As someone who doesn’t speak Spanish, I will approach the exchange in a way that doesn’t default to dialogue. I am looking forward to the richness of building material non-verbally through the shared vulnerability and awkwardness of developing physical relationships with new collaborators. One of the most prominent dance theater companies in Cuba, Retazos has pushed boundaries within a geographically isolated context for 29 years with a body of work that is visually rich and socially relevant. With few opportunities to engage artists outside of their country, the artists behind Retazos are equally charged by the prospect of learning from one another through the dance devising process. This exchange will take place in two phases: Retazos will come to Chicago in August 2016 and Lucky Plush will travel to Havana in January 2017. In addition to the benefits that a genuine creative exchange will provoke in my personal artistic practice, the process will generate material that will fold into Rooming House, my next major work with Lucky Plush Productions, set to premiere in Fall 2017. 

About This Project

A central element of my work is humor, which is often provoked by building and subverting expectations based on shared cultural references. I’m excited by the challenge of generating humor and meaning with artists who have a different language and cultural references than my own. With this creative exchange, I will focus on developing material for Rooming House, a new work that I will co-create with Leslie Danzig and devise in collaboration with the Lucky Plush ensemble. This piece will shed a contemporary light on the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, while revealing mythic storytelling as a dynamic map that invites ongoing revision.

The thematic underpinnings of Orpheus and Eurydice are undeniably human. My collaborators and I are drawn to the story’s enduring themes: the enchantment of new love, the impossibility of regret, and the conundrum of being independently whole yet incomplete without others. Rather than a linear adaptation, the story will take numerous twists and turns based on contemporary circumstances, multiple and diverse viewpoints, and the collateral discoveries of our research with Danza Teatro Retazos related to process and cultural identity.

The exchanges will provide the context for me to problematize the very underpinnings of my creative process and dramaturgical approach. Given that likely there is no directly analogous narrative of Orpheus and Eurydice in Cuba, and perhaps a different relationship to myths more broadly, I will go into the process ready to challenge my assumptions about the universality of myths and how they function.

A generous gift from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation International Connections Fund will cover a major portion of this exchange, but with this campaign I will be able to cover the full costs of travel, per diem, and rehearsal fees. By helping to make this exchange possible, you will catalyze a rich period of creative development that crosses borders and adds to the continuing growth of invention and possibility in the field of dance. 

Thank yous

Contribute any amount or choose from the levels below.

  • $25
    Gratitude via a special “thank you” on social media. ($0.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $50
    Above plus acknowledgement on the Lucky Plush website and in the “Rooming House” printed program (November 2017). ($0.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $100
    All of the above plus a Lucky Plush t-shirt. ($0.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $250
    All of the above plus 2 tickets to the premiere of “Rooming House” (November 2017). ($0.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $500
    All of the above plus 2 additional tickets (for a total of four) to the premiere of “Rooming House” (November 2017) and an invitation to a post-show cocktail with the cast. ($0.00 is tax deductible.)

Julia Rhoads

Julia Rhoads is the founding Artistic Director of Lucky Plush Productions. Her work is recognized for its layered choreography, nuanced dialogue, surprising humor, and socially relevant content. Rhoads has created over 25 works with Lucky Plush, and the company has …

View Julia Rhoads's profile
  • Update 1: Thank you!
    Posted on August 22, 2016


    Hello wonderful supporters! Lucky Plush just completed the first phase of our exchange with Danza Teatro Retazos this week, and it exceeded my expectations on all levels. The dancers from Retazos are exceptional dancers, collaborators, and humans, and the exchange will have a huge impact on the continued development of Lucky Plush's next major work, "Rooming House." Thank you all for your support of this project!



    Images courtesy of Kim Goldman and Leo Miserendino.

    • Thank you to the following for contributing to 3Arts with the recommendation that we support this project.

    • Joe Germuska

    • Benjamin Croft

    • Michael Rioux

    • Bari Baskin

    • Vanessa Valliere

    • Erik McIntosh

    • Rebecca Lemme


    • Cathy Breitenbach

    • Chad Herzog

    • peter mcdowell

    • Pamela Crutchfield

    • Julie Englander

    • Nancy DeDakis

    • Scott Lundius

    • Susan O'Connell

    • Curt Anthon

    • Laura Lundin

    • Stacey Recht

    • Elaine Winer

    • Cheryl Tama Oblander

    • Anonymous Supporter

    • Anonymous Supporter

    • Janine Pixley

    • Roger Bialcik

    • Damon Furberg

    • Jennifer Edgcomb

    • Elizabeth Saline

    • Bryan Rhoads

    • Elizabeth Foster

    • Kurt Chiang

    • Anonymous Supporter

    • Kimberly Goldman

    • Jon Satrom

    • Kirstin Hara

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