Margi Cole has long been known as a teacher, at the Dance Center of Columbia College and across the globe, bringing her “Margi-isms” and wacky metaphors to eager dance students. Thousands of “cornfused” students have “run around” in Cole’s classes, trying to figure out the Louie from the Richie. Humor and humility are Cole’s trademarks, cultivating young dancers into skilled entrepreneurs, while providing a living example in the community through her company, The Dance COLEctive.
Twenty years to the week after its founding, The Dance COLEctive presents Revelry beginning tonight and running two weekends at Links Hall, where Cole gave her first concert. Though he physical location is different – Links Hall moved from its Wrigleyville spot in 2013 – “Being at Links was a very conscious decision,” said Cole in a phone interview. “That was important to me.”
Revelry is a catch-all concert, highlighting various initiatives and projects from throughout the company’s history, and bringing back alumni to perform and/or help restore favorite works. Company member Shannon Edwards presents her 2009 There There as a nod to COLEctive Notions, an annual mentorship project fostering new work from within the company. Cole will also dance a solo set on her by Margaret Jenkins, as a reflection of her continued commitment to solo performance.
In looking back on 20 years of directing, choreographic, teaching, mentoring, curating, etc., etc., etc., Cole feels her presence in the community, and has recently embraced the oft-avoided title of “mid-career artist.”
“Twenty years is a long time,” she said, associating the term with leadership more than financial status or resume length. “I am a mid-career artist, but I don’t know everything. I work in a leadership role, but I don’t lead everything,” she said. As Cole’s mentors within Chicago’s rich dance lineage retire, she feels a responsibility to continue lead with honesty and integrity about the field in its current state. Cole is unafraid to rest on her laurels and acknowledges that certain models of presenting, documenting, funding and administrating dance need to change. She’s embraced social media and explored new models for marketing and producing her work. “If I want to be current, if I’m going to be a mentor and a leader,” she said, “I have to be willing to change when the model doesn’t work anymore.”
How Cole continues to evolve her company and her solo practice as a response to the changing dance landscape remains to be seen, but for the next few days none of that matters. The Dance COLEctive is in well-deserved celebration mode.
The Dance COLEctive presents “Revelry” March 11-20 at Links Hall, 3111 N. Western Ave. Performances are Fri-Sun at 7 p.m. General admission is $20, $15 for students and seniors. To purchase tickets, visit linkshall.ticketfly.com/