Updates as of 3/17/20

Please note: some of our programs have been postponed in response to health concerns. The schools and Park District locations that we work within are temporarily closed and have released official statements in response to COVID-19. You can read the Chicago Park District statement HERE.

Synapse remains committed to the health and safety of our artists, teachers, students, and their families. Our staff is working remotely and we are abiding by the attendance thresholds announced by Governor Pritzker and Mayor Lightfoot. 

Updates will be posted here and on social media as they become available. 

Thank you for your support during this challenging time for our artists!

March 18 - Residency at Old Orchard Junior High


Three performances of dance pieces and Social Emotional Learning elements for 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students.

April 2 - first day of the Spring Session

To be determined by The Chicago Park District

Classes include Adult Modern with Margi Cole and LOUD BODIES, and beginning ballet and intermediate ballet for young artists.

April 23 - Free Dance Day

To be determined by The Chicago Park District

Join us for a day of free classes, workshops, and performances for all ages at Loyola Park from 10am to 5:45pm. 

April 30 - Synapse Soirée

To be determined by The Chicago Park District

An evening of pop-up performances and catered refreshments in the gorgeous Downey Mansion at Berger Park. 


Synapse Soiree

An inspiring evening of live piano and pop-up dance performances, with light fare and drinks, in an historic lakeside mansion.

Thursday, April 30th

5:30-7:30pm, come and go as you please

at Berger Park Cultural Center, 6205 N. Sheridan Road, Chicago, IL

Tickets $25-40 at https://synapsearts.networkforgood.com/events/19968-synapse-soiree

This serene evening will include intriguing excerpts from acclaimed Synapse works such as Leverage, a quartet with handheld lights, textile-dance Light Hand, and intricate duet Strata. Enjoy these artworks and delicious refreshments while celebrating 15 seasons and supporting our community programming.

The perfect way to wind down your week! Relax as you wander through the beautiful Downey Mansion, drink in hand, listening to live piano and enjoying occasional dance performances throughout the first floor.

Located in the beautiful (and fully ADA accessible) Downey Mansion at Berger Park Cultural Center, overlooking Lake Michigan. 

Artists include dancers Dee Alaba, Rachel Damon, Kait Dessoffy, Megan Rhyme, Gretchen Soechting-McGuire, and Laura Tennal, plus musician Matt Griffo.

photo: dancer Amanda Ramirez at Berger Park by Matthew Gregory Hollis


Free Dance Day

Thursday, April 23, 2020 from 10:00am-5:45pm

At Loyola Park, 1230 W. Greenleaf Ave. Chicago, IL 60626

All events are FREE


Join Synapse Arts for a full day of FREE dance classes, performances, and workshops! Visit Synapse’s home studio at Loyola Park to take an adult modern dance class, learn about the Synapse Arts - New Works program in a Q&A session with former New Works artists, watch informal performances by professional and student dancers, and bring kids to try a ballet class. All events are free and open to the public. Schedule and registration details are below.

Schedule Overview

10:00am-11:00am all levels Modern technique class with Margi Cole

11:15am-12:30pm New Works Information Session with past New Works artists**

12:30-1:00pm break with light refreshments**

1:00pm-1:25pm Informal performance by Synapse Arts**

1:30pm-3:00pm Phrasebuilding workshop with Kristina Fluty (RSVP required)

3:45pm-5:30pm Youth ballet classes for ages 4-10 

5:30pm Informal student performance

All activities take place in the Sky Room, on the second floor of the main building within Loyola Park.

**Denotes ASL interpreted event

Accessibility and inclusivity notes

All activities take place on the second floor of Loyola Park, which can be reached by stairs or by elevator. Loyola Park staff can be reached at 773-262-8605 for questions regarding building and parking access.

Programs will include large text format print outs, an ASL interpreter at select events, and all settings are relaxed and sensory-friendly. For more information please contact Synapse Director Rachel Damon at rachel@synapsearts.com.

Please note: Synapse Arts maintains a working environment that is inclusive of all identities, yet works within buildings with cis-gender divided restrooms.

Full Details and Schedule

All-levels modern dance class with Margi Cole

10:00am-11:00am in the Sky Room at Loyola Park

Free, all levels, ages 18+, no pre-registration required


Join us for an all-levels modern technique class from 10-11am. Drop-ins are welcome and no pre-registration is necessary. Please arrive 10 minutes early to sign in.

This technique-driven class is open to all levels of ability. The room will be open by 9:45am and participants are encouraged to wear comfortable attire to move in (think exercise or yoga clothes) and socks or bare feet.

Margi’s technique class is designed to emphasize conditioning, coordination, alignment, clarity, rhythm and artistry. All of this is best achieved through and with honest effort. Informed by her training in classical ballet, Limon, Cunningham, Graham and release based technique that she calls the “Margi Style”. Class starts on the floor and continues with exercises standing and moving across the floor. The class is designed around an infrastructure of principles that include articulation of the spine, finding the supporting leg, dropping your weight, changing direction, falling through space and efficiently moving in and out of the floor. These ideas are then further supported by the use of mixed rhythms, strong imagery, and a desire to find the spaces in between really specific forms, which is where the real “dancing” is happening.

Synapse Arts - New Works program info session**

11:15am-12:30pm in the Sky Room at Loyola Park

Free, ages 18+, no pre-registration required

Learn about “New Works”, a choreographic mentorship and commissioning program run by Synapse Arts in an informal setting. Join former New Works artists Chris Knowlton, Maria Blanco (of LOUD BODIES), Nora Sharp, and Megan Rhyme for a Q&A session in preparation for the fall 2020 call for applications.

Are you curious about the application process? Want to know what support and resources are offered to New Works artists? Have questions about the challenges and triumphs of being in New Works? Converse with former New Works artists and Synapse staff members to answer these questions and more!

Synapse Arts informal performance**

1:00pm-1:25pm in the Sky Room at Loyola Park

Free, all ages, no pre-registration required

Watch excerpts from current and past Synapse dance-theatre pieces in a studio setting. See selections from a quartet with handheld lights called Leverage, textile-dance Light Hand, and duet Strata.

Phrasebuilding workshop with Kristina Fluty

1:30pm-3:00pm in the Sky Room at Loyola Park

Intended for intermediate and advanced movers, ages 18+

Free with required pre-registration: https://synapsearts.networkforgood.com/events/18542-phrasebuilding-workshop-with-kristina-fluty

Join Kristina Fluty of Molly Shanahan/Mad Shak and The Theatre School at DePaul University for a quick creative process class. We will build and investigate a long-form phrase of movement inspired by the fundamentals of Laban/Bartenieff, the Molly Shanahan commitment to spiral, and a Feldenkrais-like idiosyncratic engagement with self and the space. We will start gently with guided and improvisational movement to warm ourselves into larger dancing.

With live accompaniment by percussionist Thomas Benko.

[Come early and see an informal performance by Synapse Arts, beginning at 1:00pm.]

This workshop is free of charge and pre-registration is required. This allows us to limit the class size and support a quality experience for all. Please sign up to save your spot!

Youth ballet classes and informal performance

In the Sky Room at Loyola Park

Free (on April 23 ONLY), ages 4-10, no pre-registration required

On this special day, young artists are invited to try our ballet classes, and no prior experience is necessary. Class participants may wear any comfortable clothing and socks or bare feet (ballet shoes are not necessary).

And for the first time ever, our ballet students will be presenting their own informal performance! All ages are welcome to attend as our Intermediate level ballet students display their hard work and artistry.

Registration for 10 week sessions of ballet classes taught by Synapse Arts is managed by Loyola Park. Please consult the Programs section of the Park website at https://www.chicagoparkdistrict.com/parks-facilities/loyola-park for more information on class registration.

3:45-4:30pm Beginning Ballet ages 4-7

4:30-5:30pm Intermediate Ballet ages 7-10

5:30-5:45pm Informal performance by Intermediate ballet students - parents/caregivers are invited to be seated in the studio and take photos and videos

**Denotes ASL interpreted event

“Free Dance Day” is a part of Chicago Dance Month and is partially supported by the Illinois Arts Council (a State Agency). Synapse Arts is in residency at Loyola Park and Berger Park Cultural Center through the Chicago Park District’s Arts Partners in Residence Program, which unites artists and communities in Chicago’s parks.


In/Motion Local Artists Showcase


Sat Feb 22, 2020 | 11AM

In the Underground Theater, basement level of the The Mundelein Center for the Arts at 1020 W. Sheridan Road, on the Loyola University of Chicago’s Lakeshore Campus

$10, tickets HERE

This event is part of the In/Motion International Dance Film Festival. Join us for a session of creative discussion and a look inside the creative processes of two renowned Chicago artists, Rachel Damon and Nora Sharp. 

“Leverage” by Rachel Damon (Artistic Director of Synapse Arts) is a series of mini-dances about making an artistic life, which gives glimpses into the freedoms, tensions, and absurdities that come with running a creative enterprise. Started as a live performance, Damon is working with Aaron Greer to transform “Leverage” into a dance film that brings each viewer inside the piece.

Also on the program is “Family Reunion” by Nora Sharp (Director of People Support for the Fly Honey Show), a project that merges processes of improvisational dance making, documentary film, and queer community building.

above photo: Rachel Damon by Matthew Griffo


Creating dance for the camera

We’re currently transforming one of our performance pieces into a dance film, an entirely new endeavor for all of us at Synapse Arts. 


In “Leverage”, four women trace their bodies with handheld lights, deciding what is concealed and revealed for the viewer. The creative team includes Aaron Greer, Mitch Fowler, Rachel Damon, an amazing crew, and dancers Amanda Ramirez, Dylan Roth, Gretchen Soechting-McGuire, and Laura Tennal.

You can support this project by becoming a monthly donor to Synapse Arts. Sign up by December 31 and we’ll include your name in the credits! Support experimental dance work and see your name on the big screen when we premiere this exciting piece.

We’ll be sharing our progress on this dance for the camera at an In/Motion Dance Film Festival event on February 22, 2020. An afternoon of local artists’ works-in-progress showings and guided discussions will be led by Chicago Tribune Dance Critic Lauren Warnecke. Join us for an afternoon of creative discussion and a look inside artistic processes at Loyola University of Chicago’s Lakeshore Campus.

Find out more at http://www.inmotionfestival.com/festival

photos from “Leverage” by Matthew Gregory Hollis