CHICAGO, IL – Greek-American artist and impresario Melissa Thodos studied classical and contemporary dance technique at Skidmore College, then performed for eight years with the Chicago Repertory Dance Ensemble. In 1992 she poured her passion and experience into founding Thodos Dance Chicago as a place where “Company Members…they can develop their own artistic identity.”
In the company’s new production, “Chicago Revealed,” she and her colleagues examine their ethnic identities, however. They “go home…to Greece” – as the great Greek Ad Man George Lois would say – and other places.
The production being presented at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie began on Feb. 20 and the performers express the joys and challenges in the lives of “People from around the world” who “have made their homes” in the great and diverse metropolis.
“I think it’s a very rich place creatively and to live…Revealing Chicago through dance seemed like a very logical thing based on my background and the company’s history in Chicago,” said Thodos, and Evanston, IL native, to the Chicago Tribune.
The African- and Japanese-American experiences are among those explored, but “Thodos also explores her own background with the piece “Thio Kosmos,” which draws upon the choreography and music from her 2007 work, “Anasa.” The Tribune wrote that “The original piece was inspired by a fire in Greece that year and dedicated to its victims, using the disaster as a lens for a historical look at the country and the rise and fall of civilizations.”
“You grow up in a Greek household, but you go out into the world and it’s a completely different world, but you’re informed by this deep cultural past…[Thio Kosmos] addresses the nuances of what it means to be culturally Greek and living in America,” she said.
Thodos was also inspired in discussions with other members of the community.
“I interviewed many Greek-Americans to get their perspective on what it means to be a Greek American, what it means to be American, how life in Greece currently has affected them,” she said.
Thodos hopes “Chicago Revealed” will strengthen her neighbors’ respect for their city.
“Having grown up here and lived in different places in the country and the world I think it’s one of the richest cities in terms of culture, in terms of art,” she said.