Upon moving to Chicago in 1969, Shirley Mordine founded the Dance Center of Columbia College and directed it until 1999. Under her direction, the Dance Center has evolved into a multifaceted institution at the national forefront of dance education. A teaching, learning, and performing arts center; the Dance Center is Chicago’s leading training program for contemporary dance, and its public programming has engaged companies from around the world. In light of her extensive and consistent contributions to the field of dance and to the student and professional life of Columbia College, Mordine was presented in 1999 with Columbia College’s Presidential Medal for Distinguished Service. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Mordine received her early training with Welland Lathrop and Anna Halprin and studied at the School of the San Francisco Ballet. She was a member of the Welland Lathrop Company in San Francisco for ten years. After graduating from Mills College with a degree in dance, she accepted a position at the University of Minnesota where she taught dance for three years. On coming to Chicago in 1969 Mordine founded Mordine & Company Dance Theater and created several seminal works for the Chicago dance scene including Journey, RSVP, Tongues, and Sky Tale. Mordine received the first Ruth Page Award for Outstanding Individual Contribution to the Field of Dance, as well as the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2002. She also received the Ruth Page Award for Outstanding Artistic Achievement for Edge Mode, Part I, her groundbreaking work combining movement with text, film, video, slides, and computer images. Sid Smith of the Chicago Tribune called this “a master work.” Mordine created the prelude work Subject to Change for the Dubufffet sculpture in the landmark Dancin’ in the State event at the State of Illinois Building in 1993. She also created the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art’s first site-specific work, Weather Watch, in its new current location. Mordine has continued to create many dances over the last 48 years including Time Stilled and Quest in collaboration with cellist Alison Chesley and visual artist John Boesche, Life Speak with experimental composer Shawn Decker, ” I Haven’t Heard from you” set to music by Mozart, and Pushed to the Edge with Hema Rajagopalan of Natya Dance TheatreIn 2005 she was awarded a grant for choreography from The Chicago Dance Makers Forum Lab Artist Award supported by the Chicago Community Trust, The Museum of Contemporary Art and the Dance Center of Columbia College as well as numerous special project grants from the Illinois Arts Council. In addition to her creative accomplishments, Mordine is recognized as a master teacher who excels in integrating the skills of dance technique, choreography, and performance.
Danielle Gilmore, originally from Yuma, Arizona, attended the University of Arizona, receiving her BFA in dance performance with concentrations in jazz, ballet, modern, and dance injury. She trained under faculty members Susan Quinn Williams, Amy Ernst, Michael Clouser, Melissa Lowe-Handcock, Sam Watson and Nina Janik. Upon moving to Chicago, Danielle studied and performed with Hedwig Dances, River North Dance Chicago, Thodos Dance Chicago, JMT/JLS Choreography, Chicago Dance Crash and most recently performing with Kelly Anderson Dance Theater and RE|Dance Group. She also had the opportunity to travel and perform on Norwegian Cruise Line, “Pride of Hawaii,” as Dance Captain. Danielle is also a certified yoga instructor-pavayoga.com
Emily Stepleton, a Lima, Ohio native, holds a BFA in dance performance and choreography from Ohio University and currently resides in Chicago, Illinois. Along with her dance training, she has studied kinesiology, production and Laban Movement Analysis. Through her love of movement, Emily performed in professional works for Gladys Bailin, Urban Bush Women, Nathan Andary, Christine Cali, and Xan Burley + Alex Springer. Under the direction of Paschal Younge and Zelma Badu-Younge, Emily also danced in Azaguno, a multi-ethnic international touring group. Movement is further explored through Emily's work with the Pilates method. A certified Power Pilates and Balanced Body comprehensive instructor, Emily has taught at Ohio University, the University of Northwestern Ohio, and currently Life Time Fitness.
Nick Schrier is originally from Muskegon, Michigan and has trained at Oberlin College and Conservatory, Grand Rapids Ballet School, Interlochen Center for the Performing Arts and Foster Dance Studios. Chicago Dance credits include Cocodaco Dance Project (under Ronn Stewart and David Maurice); Kristina Isabelle Dance Company; Brian McGinnis' evening length work First Bite; Bob Eisen's Past Past Present at Links Hall. Nick is also a working actor and has recently appeared in A Chorus Line (Metropolis Performing Arts Center), An Enemy of the People (Goodman Theater), F***G Men (Pride Filims and Plays). Nick is thrilled to be joining Mordine & Company for its 50th anniversary season.
Austin Shirley began dancing in 2004 at the Michael Thomas Dance Center in his home town of Louisville, Kentucky. He then went on to receive his BFA in Dance with a focus on performance at Columbia College Chicago where he had the opportunity to dance for faculty members Paige Cunningham-Calderella, Emma Draves, Jeff Hancock, and Darrell Jones. While at Columbia he also appeared in works by choreographers Thomas DeFrantz, Bob Eisen, Carrie Hanson, Stephanie Paul, Vershawn Sanders-Ward, as well as repertory of Merce Cunningham. This is Austin’s first season with Mordine & Company Dance Theater.
Melissa Pillarella is originally from Chicago and began her dance training at Whitney Young Magnet High School under the direction of Lisa Johnson-Willingham. She attended The University of Illinois where she received a BFA in dance. While at U of I, she performed in works by Jan Erkert, Linda Lehovec, Rebecca Nettl-Fiol, Lorie Carlos, and others. In Chicago, Melissa has danced with The Dance COLEctive and has performed as a guest artist with Laboratory Dancers and The Inconvenience.
Timothy Tsang is a dancer, teacher, choreographer, and arts administrator. He began his dance training in 2009 at The One Dance Studio in Shanghai, taking classes in hip hop, popping, locking, and waacking. Tim was first introduced to modern and ballet at Columbia College Chicago, where he earned his BA (’17) in dance, and minor in arts administration. During college, he performed in original works by Paige Cunningham-Calderella, Bob Eisen, and Stephanie Paul, as well as repertory of Merce Cunningham. In 2016, Tim was also commissioned by Columbia to choreograph for their Open House, and restaged twice. Tim began performing professionally, with Ardent Dance Company the same year. Since then, Tim has danced with South Chicago Dance Theatre, and served as assistant to Artistic Director with Cerqua Rivera Dance Theatre for 3 years. Tim is currently a Company Member and Communications Manager with Mordine & Co. Dance Theatre, as well as Communications person at Dance Center Evanston.