All Press Releases for June 01, 2020

Dr. Venetia Stifler, Ph.D. Celebrated for Dedication to the Field of Dance

    CHICAGO, IL, June 01, 2020 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Venetia Stifler has been included in Marquis Who's Who. As in all Marquis Who's Who biographical volumes, individuals profiled are selected on the basis of current reference value. Factors such as position, noteworthy accomplishments, visibility, and prominence in a field are all taken into account during the selection process.

Ms. Stifler, Emmy-nominated choreographer and director, is the Executive and Artistic Director of The Ruth Page Center for the Arts. She guides the vision of the organization left to Chicago by the dance icon and pioneer Ruth Page. Ms. Stifler is also the Artistic Director of Venetia Stifler & Concert Dance Inc. (CDI), the resident contemporary dance company at the Ruth Page Center. CDI performs choreography by Ms. Stifler and other leading contemporary artists while also exploring and re-envisioning Ms. Page's work.

An example of this is Ms. Stifler's re-envisioned production of Ruth Page's groundbreaking 1947 "ballet carton" titled "Billy Sunday" which came alive again in 2007 with several stage productions and the PBS documentary produced by HMS Media. Billy Sunday was a two year collaborative dance and documentary project that not only brought this masterpiece to new audiences, but also garnered several Emmy nominations from The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.

In 1999 Ms. Stifler was asked by the board of directors of the Ruth Page Center to become their Executive Director and they charged her with bringing renewed life to the organization. Since becoming its Executive and Artistic Director in 2000, Ms. Stifler has clarified and focused the Ruth Page Center's mission of ensuring that children and professional dance artists have a place to study, work and perform at the highest levels of excellence. The Ruth Page center is committed to, "advancing dance as a critical art form".

Ms. Stifler also continues to serve as Artistic Director for the Ruth Page Dance Series (RPDS), a festival of dance she created in 1991 in honor of Ms. Page to showcase the rich variety of dance styles and artists in Chicago. The series is produced in conjunction with Northeastern Illinois University. The RPDS has produced over 40 Chicago area dance companies in the last 25 years in venues throughout the Chicagoland area.

In her mission to bring new life to the Ruth Page Center and advance dance as a critical art form, Ms. Stifler draws upon an accomplished career in dance and performing. Her training as a dancer brought her to study in both Chicago and New York with such legendary artists as Bill Evans, Jennifer Mueller, Alwin Nikolais, and Merce Cunningham. Ms. Stifler went on to a national and international performing career that spanned over a decade.

Ms. Stifler holds a Ph.D. in Dance and Choreography, and served as Coordinator of Dance at Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago (1987 -2016). She was a tenured faculty member and served four years as Chair of the Department of Music and Dance. She now holds the title of Professor Emerita. Ms. Stifler was selected in 2015 to Chicago NewCity's annual "Players 2015" list, which honors leaders within the Chicago arts and culture community by recognizing those who work tirelessly behind the scenes.

Her professional career as a choreographer began in1981 when she formed the contemporary dance company Venetia Stifler & Concert Dance, Inc. (CDI). In 1984 her company became the dance company in residence at Mundelein College (now part of Loyola University), and she began her approach to choreography as a collaborative process between dancers and other performing artists. Described by the Chicago Sun-Times as "wonderfully dramatic," CDI has performed throughout the United States, Europe and Asia.

In 1999 Ms. Stifler took CDI to Scotland to be part of the prestigious Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Her work garnered a "Best of the Fest" by the Sunday Times of Scotland. Her eclectic performances were a mix of live music, classical song, opera, visual arts - all combined with dance. Stifler's choreography was described by The Times of Scotland as "a witty interaction between the art forms."

In 2003, Venetia Stifler was commissioned by the American Composer's Forum to collaborate with composer Ron Combs in the creation of a new work to be premiered that year. Also, in 2003, the Ravinia Festival commissioned Ms. Stifler to create "Aftermath: The Dance" to music by renowned composer Ned Rorem. This commission by the Ravinia Festival marked the beginning of an on-going relationship with CDI in the creation of new dances that have premiered each summer at Ravinia since 2003.

In the summers from 2004 to 2009 Stifler and CDI also performed for JTAMS Productions in Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania at the historic Mauch Chunk Opera House. This summer residency program created works of unexpected and surprisingly moving choreography, the most significant piece being "The Day of the Rope", a work relating to the coal mining history of the region. It is a stirring dance performance conveying the story of the sometimes violent Irish immigrant group known as the Molly McGuires who fought for labor reforms in the coal mines of 19th century America. The work premiered in 2005 in the very city where the ringleaders of the Molly McGuires were tried and sentenced to death. The singing of Kathy Cowen, a nationally renowned singer of traditional Irish ballads, accompanies the piece and lends a powerful infusion of authenticity.

In 2009, CDI was again commissioned by Ravinia for a new dance that was presented as part of their year-long Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Celebration. "The Better Angels of Our Nature" featured the music of Lawrence Dillon, with spoken word borrowed from Lincoln's personal letters. The Lincoln Trio, a piano trio, performed live and Welz Kauffman, Ravinia President/CEO, narrated.

International projects have and continue to be an important part of Venetia Stifler & CDI's focus. After the 1999 tour in Edinburgh, the company traveled in 2006 to the Prague International Dance Festival for several performances. This week-long dance festival brought together dance companies, educators and dance artists from around the globe. In May of 2009, CDI was awarded a $50,000 grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation's International Connections Fund and a $15,000 grant from the Governor's International Arts Exchange Program of the Illinois Arts Council to travel to China as part of a cultural exchange program.

The cultural exchange program, "The International Dance Learning Project," was piloted by CDI and allowed the company to perform, teach and present its unique brand of American contemporary dance to an international audience of 1,000 people. It also created the stepping-stones of a new world premiere work that was presented at the Ravinia Festival in 2010. Utilizing travel logs of their experiences in China, this new multi-media work explores how the company's perceptions and realities were affected by a 3,000-year-old culture that remains unbroken (China).

During its 30th Anniversary performance season in 2011, the Chicago Tribune noted that "Artistic Director Venetia Stifler and CDI are marking 30 years on the dance scene – an impressive achievement, all the more so in an art famous for its casualties." TimeOut Chicago in their review of the performances enthused "At the start of its fourth decade, Venetia Stifler's choreography finds balance between experience and spontaneity. If the last and newest work on its triple bill is any indication, Venetia Stifler & CDI is entering its thirties with experience and spontaneity in good balance."

The 2011 performances at the Ravinia Festival also celebrated CDI's 30th Anniversary Season with a retrospective of the dances commissioned by Ravinia. Additionally, CDI presented a world premiere, "A Soul Enlightened," to the music of Franz Liszt that featured live accompaniment by Mezzo Soprano Tracy Watson and pianist Mikhail Yanovitsky.

In 2017, the company completed a work inspired by Chicago Architecture. Director, Venetia Stifler, a native Chicagoan holds an intense connection to the city's architecture. From Louis Sullivan's organic decoration to the modern skyscrapers that line the city center, Stifler, with collaborator Frank Vodvarka, explored architectural points of interest.

With Vodvarka's photographs as a backdrop, Stifler created a kinesthetic reality where humans interact with architectural materials, lines, planes and shapes. The result is an intense emotional expression of how we experience architecture. The work was included as part of the city's Architectural Biennial in 2017, and was performed in several prestigious locations including Crown Hall at the Illinois Institute of Technology, the Ravinia Festival, Millennium Park, and the Ruth Page Center for the Arts.

CDI continued to perform in collaboration with the Ravinia Festival in 2018, showing a piece entitled Fly Me to the Moon, choreographed to music by Frank Sinatra. CDI also created and performed a work in progress called Dances with Words and Music, commissioned by the Poetry Foundation. This work utilizes and derives inspiration from poems by Lorca, e.e. cummings, Dorothy Parker, and Langston Hughes. The choreography lives within a multimedia environment of live musical accompaniment and animations created by visual artists Kelli Evans and Frank Vodvarka.

The poetry piece was premiered during the 2019 season at the Ravinia Festival. CDI performed Dance With Words and Music as well as El Salón México in Bernstein's two-piano arrangement, with choreography by Venetia Stifler and the piano played by Welz Kauffman and James Morehead.

The year 2021, will mark the fortieth year of Venetia Stifler @Concert Dance Inc. and fifty years for the Ruth Page Center for the Arts.

About Marquis Who's Who®
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