Imagine - The Dreamer

Video by Ashley Rockwood

Choreography by students of All About Dance, Dance & Music Academy, Intrigue Dance & Performing Arts Center, Larkin High School, Performing Arts Limited, Starr Dance Studio, Trilogy School of Performing Arts, Visceral Dance Center



DAP put out a call for studios and schools who would be interested in having a student interpret and choreograph around 4 counts of 8 to "Imagine." To then be stitched together with other students' work to make the statement. A message in solidarity. We all know the song. And we know the significance. In a matter of 4 days I was able to travel all over the city and suburban Chicago to film 8 vastly and beautifully different reflections to this piece. Each one is just as important as the other. I believe this experience proves that we are all in this together. No matter who we are or where we come from.

Imagine there's no heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people living for today
Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people living life in peace, you
You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope some day you'll join us
And the world will be as one
Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people sharing all the world, you
You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope some day you'll join us
And the world will be as one
Songwriter: John Winston Lennon

DAP Connected is a new project in which our network is delivered and responsible for responding to a monthly prompt. Sharing their work and syncing with other dancers. We aim to highlight freedom of expression and how such a large platform can be utilized to promote cyber unity. It's as simple as a hashtag. Content created will become a part of a large scale picture debuting in July 2018. 


Interestingly enough, I selected this song for the Tomorrow's Choreographers last statement well before all of this chaos. It refers repeatedly to being a dreamer, and not being alone in that. And really what does it mean to dream? To contemplate the possibility of doing something or that something might be the case. We should all dream of a better life without hate and then act. Put your words into action. help others, stand up for one another, speak out against inequality. do your part because you do have one, whether you like it or not.

Lesson - Let It Go

Video by Ashley Rockwood

Dancers of Power & Grace School of Performing Arts

"Let It Go."
It is no secret that dance is hard. Physically, mentally and emotionally. And sometimes life gifts us these harsh reminders to be kind. To be respectful. To treat one another like you want to be treated. A reminder we are all human and doing our best. No one is perfect. Mistakes will be made. But it is how you handle them that makes or breaks it. We have the control to change our perspective and see the positive effect of all that impacts us, good and bad. As dancers in a company, ensemble, team or whatever you may call it, we have the beauty of going through things together. Going through life together. A solid group of dancers there to catch you when you fall. And at times quite literally. So be there. And when things get tough, look one another in the eye as to remember that you are fortunate to have each other. Grow from it, let it go, and let it be water under the bridge.
*This moment with the dancers of P&G marks a total of 111 dancers participating in an experience with DAP. This number seems significant and fitting. 

Location. The Red River in Bossier City, Louisiana

Location. The Red River in Bossier City, Louisiana

My dear friend Brooke Paulsen Zelus introduced me to Christy posey Holden, director of power & Grace School of Performing arts. and It was pretty much love at first sight. There is something truly unique about these kids. Far beyond the southern hospitality, charm, and yes ma'am. I believe it was their love for tap that won my heart. once a tapper, always a tapper. they are so open and eager, and it has been a joy to see them grow individually, as a company, and as a studio. this year they celebrate their silver 25th anniversary. congratulations p&G. it means so much that you have embraced dancers awareness project and our mission.

DAP Involvement

DAP Connected Studio

Project - Dancer MeetUp 2017

[insert dance here] - parking lot

Dancers : Isa, Maggie, Morgan, Olivia

"What Is It?"
Perhaps, by now there is some intrigue around what Dancers Awareness Project actually "is". The best way to explain it in mho is, whatever it feels it needs to be. Side tab, why do we feel we always need to know? One can completely enjoy an experience without all of the certainty. In fact and I imagine, some of the unknown is actually what makes some things thrilling. We are here for the community, the world and for you. A dear friend recently described DAP as "avant garde." I was super flattered.
My goal is to connect dancers of all kinds to one another through positive and inviting experiences. To lift each other up. To inspire creative thinking. To produce meaningful content. To cycle good in the direction of someone or something else. To be aware and conscious of one another. And to create community. To give DAP.
Thank you to the four dancers for being so generous and open to sharing with each other. 

Location.  Parking Lot on Clark St.

Location.  Parking Lot on Clark St.

Footage above is from our 2nd Annual Dancer MeetUp. An open invitation for dancers to come hang out, do something different, and share their artistry.

This project is a part of our series [Insert Dance Here] - putting dance in unexpected spaces such as this parking lot. 

Video by Ashley Rockwood. Music "Waking Up to the Sun" by Pictures of the Floating World.

[Insert Dance Here] - MPA in a hayfield



"Field Of Dreams."
As one gets older it seems you learn to appreciate the little things. You enjoy the ride, trust the process, breathe deeper. You look out the window. And I was, thankfully. Driving through the endless fields of Wisconsin I was overtaken with the beauty of this site. It was so bright and quiet and still. I had never seen anything like it. It felt like I was dreaming. Naturally I had to come back with a pack of dancers. And just like that we have the first [Insert Dance Here]. This series of captured stills and live performances places dance in unexpected spaces. The very first one features Midwest Performing Arts in a hayfield.

Location.  A hayfield in Waunakee, WI

Location.  A hayfield in Waunakee, WI

Studio owner Meghan McDermott is a Giordano Dance Chicago legend. a classic vision, blonde bombshell of a dancer best Known for her fierce 6 pack abs.  she was and still is such an inspiration to me. Midwest Performing Arts just celebrated its 5 year anniversary. and it comes to no surprise that the studio is just as Chic as she is. it feels like home and i am so Happy to be a part of the MPA family. it was an honor to shoot with them and i am stoked to have them on board as the first dancers participating in our new program - DAP connected.  Get connected to them and many others as we champion cyber unity through dance.  

DAP Involvement

DAP Connected studio

Cameo - Kamilla Mirzalieva, dancer

Photography By Ashley Rockwood

Mural By Rich Watkin & Shawn Teseo Ballarin

"Open Eyes Welcome"
Kamilla is originally from Kazakhstan, but moved here to Chicago in April from Ukraine (where she lived for 16 years).  
DAP:  How did you begin dancing?
Kamilla:  I started to dance in Kazakhstan at a ballet studio when I was 4.  My father danced when he was young.  It was also an unfulfilled dream of my mother.  I danced classical ballet, Kazakhstan and Ukrainian folk dances, hip hop, jazz funk, contemporary, hip hop heels and social ballroom. Since then the universe has given me lots of different opportunities and experiences.  
D:  What is dance like in Ukraine?
K:  It is developing there as the world flows.  All ages are dancing.  
D:  Can you explain what the folk dances of Kazakhstan and Ukraine are like?
K:  You just have to look it up on YouTube.  It's pretty ornate.
D:  Well, welcome to Chicago!  How did you find your way to classes and dancing when you arrived?
K:  When I moved here, I only knew of Arthur Murray.  And it is challenging to get there. I'm in Logan Square.  So not to lose my shape I went to the gym and found Zumba classes. Which are pretty fun.  But for a professional it is very hard to make yourself dance hardly correct.  Don't get me wrong. It is a very good class for sweating and cardio, as everything you can find at the gym.  I came up with the idea of trying something I've never done before or at least in a really long time. Searching the internet I found the Joffrey. The beginner ballet class is not that easy, like at all. Good thing my muscle memory remembers everything. I didn't stop there no matter how hard it was. I took a jazz class and fell in love!!!  I never knew. But it's like a combination of all the dances I have ever done, which makes it so much fun!
D:  What do you feel is different so far about dance here?
K:  I guess the opportunities for people who have never danced before is much more than in Kiev.  All ages, races, shapes.  It doesn't matter as long as you have desire.  Youth from the post Soviet Union countries are dreaming about coming here.  We grew up on American movies, songs and tv shows. Every girl wants to go to Disneyland.  Such as every boy wants to go to N.Y. or drive the L.A. roads.  It's a dream land for us.
D:  What are you most excited about from the big move?
K:  I am happy to be here. Discovering other cultures, people, places. Of course it's pretty difficult, but where is not? I believe there are lots of opportunities. You have to keep your eyes wide open. 

Location:  Clark St. & Byron Ave.

Location:  Clark St. & Byron Ave.

Kamilla is Green to the city of Chicago. All the way from Ukraine. Fresh perspective. Fresh observation. Fresh eyes. Such a beautiful and defining moment. Her dancing is uber fresh too. Or shall we say lyft fresh. Her eager spirit and unique movement quality was a dead giveaway. She has gracefully and very quietly entered the dance community. And without hazing. She deserves a proper introduction. Chicago, meet Kamilla.

DAP Involvement


Cameo - Mary Tarpley, dancer

Photography + Words By Ashley Rockwood

Note - expletives came with the location

"Guard Your Life"
Now seems like a good time to stand guard. Protect what we all work so hard for. Blood, sweat, tears. For our art. There will always be a way because it is for the people. And we won't let each other down. Show them why they need us. Earth without art is just eh. You may not feel inclined to protest, march, demonstrate, rally. But do something. Anything. Donate. Attend. Support. Encourage. Educate. Share. This is an entire community of importance, free thinking, creativity and inclusion. If you want it, you better guard it with all of your might.

Location.  Somewhere outside of Kayak Chicago

Location.  Somewhere outside of Kayak Chicago

There's Something About Mary. No really. I imagine she got that a lot in 1998. I saw her dance for the first time in the studio in 'Addicted To Love' as one part of an oh so dynamic duo. I was remarked by the jittering, crazy nimble, catlike moving coming from her. And she was as cool and calm as a cucumber when I met her. On the next run in, we were dancing together and pre rehearsal she was on the floor in a straddle studying from a “quantum mechanics" book. Talk about body and brains.


Dap involvement

community advocate