Wade Schaaf and Chicago Repertory Ballet Exclusive Interview
The Qu works hard to shine light on art that is being created by people within the queer community. Recently we met Wade Schaaf, who has been a dancer for a long time and is now branching off on his own creating Chicago Repertory Ballet. After hearing about his new and budding company we reached out for an interview and he kindly agreed! Check it out!
Qu: Tell us about you, what was your path that ultimately lead you to becoming a dancer?
WS: I have always been an artistic person. As a kid, I played a few instruments, sang, and was in quite a few shows in school and my local community theater groups. At some point along the way, I fell in love with musical theater (and what’s not to love really?) and ultimately dancing. There was one problem there: I was a horrible dancer…I mean HORRIBLE! I always did my best, but decided in order to be more ‘cast-able’ I should take lessons at my local dance academy. I started taking tap, and shortly thereafter I took every class I could get my hands on…ballet, jazz, modern, EVEN TUMBLING (which at 6’4” was a feat!). It was all over, dance had became my passion, and I never looked back.
Qu: What are some companies that you worked with?
WS: Over my 10 year career of dancing professionally, I have worked with The Ohio Ballet, State Street Ballet Santa Barbara, Omaha Theater Ballet, River North Chicago Dance Company, and most recently Thodos Dance Chicago. As a Choreographer, I have set choreography on: Omaha Theater Ballet, Groundwork Dance Company, Thodos Dance Chicago, and numerous student and pre-professional organizations.
Qu: What is Chicago Repertory Ballet?
WS: Chicago Repertory Ballet is Chicago’s newest dance company. We have a mission dedicated to producing choreography that sits at the forefront of dance in the 21st century, and will incorporate storytelling into it’s productions.
Qu: What made you decide to go into business for yourself?
WS: After years of dancing other people’s work, and working under numerous directors, I really began to crave the ability to explore dance from my perspective. I wanted the freedom to explore choreography and storytelling in my unique way, and put my own unique stamp on my work.
Qu: What can people see from Chicago Repertory Ballet that will set you apart from all the rest?
WS: Part of CRB’s mission is produce shows that incorporate storytelling from a contemporary perspective. I plan on producing shows that not only showcase the company’s dynamic repertoire, but also performances that will tell stories with which many are familiar. So, while we may be exploring classic ballets, we will do so from a fresh and original point of view.
Qu: What has been your biggest challenge?
WS: To date, I think my biggest challenge has been keeping all of the directorial plates spinning! As the organization is brand new, I have been wearing a lot of the hats at CRB. Not only am I the Founder and Artistic Director, but I have been doing a lot of the administrative tasks, working on marketing and fundraising, updating our website, and on and on. It’s really been an exercise in multi-tasking!
Qu: You have your first show coming up in September, tell us about that.
WS: Our premiere performance in September is going to be VERY EXCITING! Chicago Repertory Ballet will be producing three WORLD PREMIERE pieces of choreography from three prolific Chicago choreographers. I will be premiere-ing 2 new pieces: The first, a new duet titled La Vie en Rose to the music of Edith Piaf…it’s a romantic and whimsical tryst for two dancers (and one long train of fabric). The second is yet untitled. It’s a beautiful investigation of movement, connection and space. This piece asks the question: how do we connect with ourselves and one another in the face of an extremely interconnected, YET DISCONNECTED world? Autumn Eckman, the Artistic Director of Giordano Dance Chicago’s second company will be making a world premiere trio in this concert as well. The piece is set to begin it’s rehearsal process this week, and we are excited to see it grow. Other pieces will include favorites from my repertoire including “Tres Hip: A love story” (produced for Dance in the Parks in 2011) and Jacqueline Stewart will contribute her A.W.A.R.D. show winning duet, “It’s not enough to close your eyes”. The public performances will be at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts on September 21 and 22 at 7:30pm. Tickets will be available on BrownPaperTickets.com
Qu: How can dancers who may want to work for you get involved with Chicago Repertory Ballet?
WS: Chicago Repertory Ballet is currently in residence at the state of the art Logan Center at the University of Chicago. We will be holding open company classes before each of our rehearsal days at the Logan Center. Interested dancers can come and take class with the company for just $10. This information will be posted on our website http://www.chicagorepertoryballet.com. Of course, private auditions can be set up on an individual basis.
Qu: Who are some dancers or choreographers what you would hope to work with in the future?
WS: Oh Lord! There is so much talent in this city and around the world…there are of course people that any dancer and choreographer might dream of working with…Jiri Kylian, William Forscythe, Sylvie Guillem and the like. BUT, I can say with much pride that I have an amazing roster of beautiful dancers that have worked with some big names in their careers. I am excited every day when I go into rehearsal to work with them.
Qu: When looking at the big picture, what are your hopes for Chicago Repertory Ballet?
WS: I want Chicago Repertory Ballet to thrive in the coming years. I want to produce intriguing shows with not only world class choreography, but also great production values, that really capture our audiences. It’s my dream to take Chicago Repertory Ballet to the forefront of dance in the 21st century.
We wish Wade and Chicago Repertory Ballet much luck. You can learn more about CRB by checking out the link to their site above or by ‘liking’ them on Facebook. Supporting art created by LGBTQ folks, strengthens our community and we are grateful that we can be a platform for their voices to be heard!