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Guest Choreographers

Thodos Dance Chicago is recognized nationally for its enticing choreography opportunities. Throughout the years, the company has premiered numerous works for respected choreographers throughout the country.

Our Chicago performances, whether self-produced of part of community projects, have proven to be excellent platforms for evolving and established choreographers to imagine, create and present their works!

  • Ahmad Simmons World premiere of Panem Nostrum Quoditianum 2013
    Ahmad Simmons is a native of Fort Worth, Texas where he began his training at the Fort Worth Academy of Fine Arts. While in Texas, he trained extensively through the Dallas Black Dance Theater, the Debbie Allen Dance Institute and the Dian Clough West Dance Center. Additional training includes summers at the Broadway Theatre Project in Florida and Montreal’s Springboard Danse program. Holding a BFA in Dance from Point Park University, under the direction of Susan Stowe, he has performed works by Bill T. Jones, Robert Battle, David Parsons, Lar Lubovitch, Daniel Ezralow, Aszure Barton, Martha Graham, Heidi Latsky, and Kate Skarpetowska.  After graduating he danced a season with Eisenhower Dance Ensemble. He is currently touring nationally and internationally as a dancer with River North Dance Chicago performing in such countries as Germany, Switzerland, and Russia.  In addition to concert dance work, he is a proud member of the Actors’ Equity Association and has performed with the Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera in a number of shows including Cats, West Side Story, Oklahoma with Shirley Jones, Peter Pan with Cathy Rigby, Hairspray, The Producers, and Oliver. In Chicago, he can be found teaching classes for B-Discovered Dance Company, Dimensions of Dance, Extensions Dance Center and Visceral Dance Center. Ahmad is also a proud Co-founder/Artistic Director of Pursuit Productions, a company with the mission to produce and present collaborative work by fresh, innovative minds in Chicago.

  • KT Nelson World premiere of Rest Is Not Always Possible 2012 

KT Nelson, ODC/Dance Co-Artistic Director, joined ODC /Dance in 1976. In addition to choreographing over 60 works, in 1986 Nelson choreographed and directed the Company’s first full length family ballet, The Velveteen Rabbit, which has since been performed annually in the Bay Area as well as touring nationwide, reaching an audience of over 350,000. Nelson has been awarded the Isadora Duncan award three times:  in 1987 for Outstanding Performance, in 1996 for Outstanding Choreography, and in 2001 for Sustained Achievement. KT’s collaborators have included Bobby McFerrin, Geoff Hoyle, Kim Turos, Gina Leishman, Shinichi Iova-Koga, Max Chen, Zap Mama and Marcelo Zarvos.  In 2008 her work RingRounRozi in collaboration with French-Canadian composer Linda Bouchard was selected to be performed at the Tanzmessa International Dance Festival. She has mentored in the Margaret Jenkin’s Chime Project and continues to mentor emerging artist in the bay area and abroad.

Nelson served on the Zellerach Community Arts Panel from 2005 to 2011.  In 1996 Nelson founded the ODC Dance Jam (youth dance company) and presently co-directs it with ODC School Director Kimi Okada. She has been awarded the Daisy Award and the California Educators Artists Award for her work with children. Over the last 25 years has played a major role in defining and implementing ODC’s on-going as well as project based outreach programs.

  • Ann Reinking World premiere of Caution: Side Effects 2004, World premiere of Rossini Recess: What Dancers Would Do If They Still Could Go Out and Play 2007, Stage Direction of Fosse Trilogy 2009, World Premiere of White City: Chicago's Columbian Exposition of 1983 2011, World premiere of A Light in the Dark, the Story of Helen Keller and Ann Sullivan 2013
    A Broadway and film veteran, Ann Reinking won a Tony Award for best Choreography for the Broadway revival of the Bob Fosse musical Chicago in 1997, and has been nominated as Best Actress (Goodtime Charley, 1975), Best Featured Actress (Dancin’, 1978) and Best Director (Fosse, 1999).  Her work on Chicago has also honored her with the 1996 L.A. Drama Critic’s Award, the 1997 Drama Desk Award and Outer Critic’s Circle Award, as well as the Astaire Award.  Her previous work in the city of Chicago include the world premieres of Fosse Trilogy in 2009, Rossini Recess – What Dancers Would Do If They Still Could Go Out and Play in 2007, and CAUTION:  Side Effects in 2004, all for Thodos Dance Chicago, as well as choreographer of Pal Joey at the Goodman Theatre in 1988 and 2001’s Kander & Ebb premiere of The Visit, also at the Goodman.  The Visit was revived again in the spring of 2009 at the Signature Theatre in Washington, DC.

  • Ron De Jesus - World premiere of Departurepoint 2008, World Premiere of Shift 2011

Ron De Jesús is an award winning dancer and choreographer.  A Chicago native, he was a leading dancer with Hubbard Street Dance Chicago from 1984-2001. In 2001, he joined the original cast of the Twyla Tharp/Billy Joel Broadway Musical MOVIN’ OUT, alternatively dancing the leading role of Tony and Ensemble for four years. Ron has danced the works of many major contemporary choreographers, including Paul Taylor, Jiri Kylian, David Parsons, Nacho Duato, Bob Fosse, James Kudelka and Twyla Tharp.  Ms. Tharp created the leading role in I Remember Clifford on him.  Ron began choreographing in 1991, creating works for Hubbard Street, Hubbard Street 2, Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago, Luna Negra Dance Theater and others.  He has also choreographed theatrical productions in New York City. He was a Master Teacher for The Lou Conte Dance Studio for 19 years.  Currently, besides choreographing for other companies, he is a Ballet Master for Twyla Tharp Productions, setting Ms. Tharp’s works on companies around the world.   In the winter of 2008, Ron premiered his own company, Ron De Jesús Dance.

  • Francisco Avina and Stephanie Martinez - World Premiere of Quieting the Clock 2010

Francisco Avina’s training started at Orange County High School of the Performing Arts and continued at The Ailey School.  He worked as a dancer in such projects as Celine Dion's A New Day, Newsies, Batman and Robin, Michael Jackson’s Sisterella, Fame L.A. the TV series, The World Billboard Music Awards, and numerous industrials for corporations including Adidas, Canon, Nike, Reebok, Asics, Nintendo and Aveda.  Since moving to Chicago, Avina has performed with Hubbard Street 2, River North Chicago Dance Company, and Hubbard Street Dance Chicago.    His choreography credits include Gianni Versace fashion show in Singapore, 10th Annual American Choreography Awards in Los Angeles, Nickelodeon’s Kid’s Choice Awards with Justin Timberlake, and three pieces for Hubbard Street 2, one of which won a national choreography competition. In Mexico City he choreographed Disney’s High School Musical La Seleccion which led to Disney’s High School Musical Mexico-The Movie. He completed the first piece set on Danceworks Chicago entitled Track 4 under the artistic direction of Julie Nakagawa.  Avina collaborated with Stephanie Martinez for the first time for Luna Negra Dance Theater’s 10th anniversary where they created AviMar.

Stephanie Martinez Bennitt has performed with numerous Chicago-based ensembles.  These have included Luna Negra Dance Theater, Same Planet Different World, River North Chicago Dance Company, James Kelly Choreography Project, and Concert Dance Inc. She was also a featured dancer for Diana Ross’s appearance in the 2006 World Cup Opening Ceremonies. Stephanie has extensive experience in major industrial and trade shows, and she has made several appearances on PBS and MTV.  She is a former Ruth Page Award winner and has studied on scholarship with Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago, and Joseph Holmes Chicago Dance Theater. She has also been a principle dancer with the Lyric Opera of Chicago in productions of Manon and The Merry Widow. Currently, Stephanie choreographs works for dance companies locally and around the country.



  • Zachary Whittenburg - World premiere of Three on Beach House 2008

Zachary Whittenburg has been working in dance for twelve years. Beginning with Seattle's Pacific Northwest Ballet, he has also been a member of North Carolina Dance Theater, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago and Montréal's [bjm_danse].  Freelance in Chicago since 2005, he has collaborated with Lucky Plush Productions, Same Planet Different World Dance, and Terpsicorps Theatre of Dance in Asheville, NC, and is currently a member of Molly Shanahan/Mad Shak.  He also covers dance for The Windy City Times and international online culture publication Flavorpill.  Zachary is a teacher of ballet for professional dancers and has presented choreography in Chicago and Canada.

  • Brock Clawson - World premiere of Nine 2008

Mr. Clawson received his dance training on a Presidential Scholarship at Columbia College Chicago, and also studied on a scholarship with Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago. Brock has worked with Mad Shak Dance Company, The 58 Group, River North Chicago Dance Company and Thodos Dance Chicago. Brock has performed the works of many renowned choreographers, including Ann Reinking, Lar Lubovich, Randy Duncan and Laurie Stallings. After four years dancing with Thodos Dance Chicago, Mr. Clawson was promoted to the company's directorial staff as its Artistic Associate, where he served until September of 2007. During that time, Brock had the privilege of working alongside Ann Reinking as her rehearsal director for her new work entitled Rossini Recess. Brock has choreographed works for Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago, The Houston Metropolitan Dance Company, Rasa Dance Chicago and has premiered four works for Thodos Dance Chicago. The Chicago Sun Times has called his work "daring and athletic" and "a real stunner." Brock was the recipient of the Dance Chicago 2005 Outstanding Choreography Award and the Cliff Dwellers Arts Organization and Dance Chicago awarded Brock the 2006 Choreographer of the Year Award. His works Along the Way and Nine were selected to be performed as a part of Dance for Life in 2006 and 2008, respectively.

  • Lucas Crandall - World premiere of Lullaby 2007                                         Mr. Crandall, Artistic Associate of Hubbard Street Dance Chicago was guest choreographer for New Dances 2007 with his work then titled "What I want..."  Mr. Crandall's work, set to the music of J.S Bach and retitled Lullaby made its Thodos Dance Chicago company premiere in Fall Engagement 2007.

  • Shapiro & Smith Chicago premiere of Dance With Two Army Blankets 2006                                                                                                                     Danial Shapiro  and Joanie Smith developed a collaborative method through which they created their work, taking turns developing materials and  directing the choreographic process. They earned an international reputation for virtuosity, substance, craft, and pure abandonment performing tales of beauty and biting wit that run the gamut from provocative to hilarious.

  • Lar Lubovitch Premiered Waiting for the Sunrise 2006                            Esteemed, internationally acclaimed American choreographer Lar Lubovitch set his work "Waiting for Sunrise" on Thodos Dance Chicago in 2006.  Lar has set several works on Hubbard Street Dance Chicago and the Joffrey Ballet, and was featured in Robert Altman’s movie “The Company,” starring Neve Campbell.

  • Eddy Ocampo Premiered in Dance Chicago 2005                                         Choreographer Eddy Ocampo (featured in December 2005 Chicago Magazine) set an original work on Thodos Dance Chicago - collaborating with Chicago composer Winston Damon.  Eddy received the “Cliff Dwellers Foundation Choreography” Award for the development of this work for Thodos Dance Chicago.  Eddy was also recently inducted into the Filipino Hall of Fame for his contribution to dance in Chicago.

  • Amy ErnstPremiered Raft 2005
    Leading choreographer, Amy Ernst, from the Southwest and Associate Professor at the University of Arizona, set her work “Raft” on the Company for Winter Concert 2005. Raft is a unique, lovely duet with unexpected special effects. Ernst's choreography is currently in the repertory of professional dance companies in California, New Mexico, Texas and Arizona.

Picture from Raft


  • Debra McWatersWorld premiere Caution: Side Effects 2004
    Debra McWaters, who teamed with Ann Reinking on CAUTION: Side Effects, left academia in 1996 to work as Ann Reinking’s assistant on the Tony Award winning CHICAGO, still running on Broadway. Credits include: Assistant Choreographer: CHICAGO, Encores! International tours; APPLAUSE: Papermill Playhouse; FOSSE (Tony Award 1999) International Tours; Associate Choreographer: THE LOOK OF LOVE, Roundabout Theatre Company; THE VISIT, Goodman Theatre; LEGENDS, Joffrey Ballet Company; SUITE KANDER, Missouri State Ballet; TONIGHT AT 8:30, Williamstown Theatre Festival. Associate Director/Choreographer: BROADWAY UNDER THE STARS. Tour Director/Choreographer: FOSSE, current national and international tours. Artistic Director of the Broadway Theatre Project.
  • Michael Anderson World premiere Timelines 2004

    Michael Anderson received some of his early ballet training in Seattle at Pacific Northwest Ballet School with Francia Russell and Flemming Halby.  He graduated from Southern Utah University with a B.S. in Communications and went on to receive his master’s degree in Arts Administration from Wayne State University in Detroit. Anderson danced with Tulsa (OK) Ballet Theater, Michigan Ballet Theatre, and The American Folk Ballet. He danced for 12 years with the Joffrey Ballet where his roles included Drosselmeyer and the Mouse King in Robert Joffrey’s The Nutcracker, the Caller in Agnes DeMille’s Rodeo, and the Manager in Leonide Massine’s Parade.  Tony award-winning choreographer Ann Reinking created a role on Anderson in her tribute to Barbara Streisand, featured in Gerald Arpino’s groundbreaking Legends.  Other roles have been created on Anderson while at The Joffrey by choreographers such as Laura Dean, Peter Pucci and Tony Powell.  Anderson has also appeared in two major motion pictures: Save the Last Dance and Robert Altman's The Company, as well as in two public television specials about dance. After retiring from the Joffrey Ballet in 2005, Anderson worked for Columbia College Chicago in the Office of Institutional Advancement. He went on to work with the Michigan Ballet Theatre as Associate Director, and most recently at Southern Utah University as a Guest Ballet Faculty and Director of Development for the College of Performing and Visual Arts and the Gerlad R. Sherratt Library. Anderson continues to choreograph and has worked on numerous projects over the past several years in Chicago, Detroit and Japan.  His work Timelines was created for Thodos Dance Chicago’s New Dances 2005 and then placed in the Company’s repertoire.  Anderson’s most recent work, Solace, premiered at Southern Utah University in March of this year.

  • Jon LehrerWorld premiere in Dance Chicago 2004
    Jon Lehrer is the Associate Director of Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago and has been a company member since 1997. Jon’s new work, “Iambus,” set on Thodos Dance Chicago, premiered at “Dance Chicago 2004” as part of its “New Dances Project.” Jon has danced with the Erick Hawkins Dance Company, John Passafiume Dancers, and for Merv Griffin in Atlantic City. He has also choreographed four works on the Giordano company and Momenta Dance Theater. Jon was selected for the first Choreography Project in 2002 in affiliation with the Joffrey Ballet. Choreography Project.