Meet the members of Concert Dance, Inc.
Venetia Stifler- Artistic Director
Venetia Stifler is an Emmy-nominated choreographer and director, and the Executive and Artistic Director of The Ruth Page Center for the Arts, guiding the vision of the organization left to Chicago by the dance icon and pioneer Ruth Page. She is also the Artistic Director of CDI/Concert Dance, Inc., the official contemporary dance company of the Ruth Page Center, which performs choreography by Ms. Stifler herself, and other leading contemporary artists, while also exploring and re-envisioning Ruth Page's work.
In 1981 she formed CDI/ Concert Dance, Inc., a company on which she could explore choreography as a collaborative art. Described by the Chicago Sun-Times as "wonderfully dramatic," Concert Dance, Inc. has performed throughout the United States, Europe and Asia. Trained as a dancer, Ms. Stifler worked in both Chicago and New York with such legendary artists as Jennifer Mueller, Alwin Nikolais, and Merce Cunningham. She went on to a national and international performing career that spanned over a decade. Ms. Stifler holds a Ph.D. in Dance and Choreography, and serves as Coordinator of Dance at Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago, where she is a tenured faculty member. She was selected in 2015 to NewCity's annual "Players 2015" list, which honors leaders within the Chicago arts and culture community by recognizing those who work tirelessly behind the scenes to make art happen in Chicago.
Jamie Farrell - Rehearsal Director
Jamie Farrell began dancing following her competitive gymnastics career. After earning a B.A. from Point Park University in Dance and Business Management in three years, she moved to Chicago to train with Thodos Dance Chicago. Ms. Farrell is grateful for her past performance opportunities with Chicago Dance Crash, Corpo Dance Company (assistant artistic director), Impetus Dance Theatre and Rasa Dance Theatre. While performing and teaching, she earned her M.S. in Exercise Science at Northeastern Illinois University, where she now serves on the faculty and acts as the Dance Program Coordinator. Jamie has been a company member of Venetia Stifler's Concert Dance, Inc. since 2005, and currently holds the position of rehearsal director. She is an Emmy nominated dancer for her work in the 2007 PBS documentary revival of Billy Sunday. Jamie continues to share her passion through private dance organizations in the Chicagoland area and is the artistic director of a youth dance company.
Alberto Gonzalez grew up in Holguin, Cuba and is a graduate of Escuela National de Arte in Havana. He was a principal dancer with Danza Contemporánea de Cuba, and has toured internationally to England, Mexico, Hungary, Poland, Spain, the Netherlands, Australia, and the United States. During his time in Danza Contemporánea de Cuba, Alberto worked with choreographers such as Rafael Bonachela, Carlos Acosta, Angel Margarite, George Cespedes, Julio C. Iglesias, Juan Kruz, Mats Ek, Itzik Galili, and Pedro Ruiz, and performed works by Jan Linkens and Kenneth Kvarstrom. Alberto has also performed and toured with the Havana-based DanzAbierta. He moved to Chicago in 2016 and started working with Concert Dance, Inc.
Edson Cabrera was born in Cuba and graduated from the highly regarded Escuela Nacional de Arte in Dance in 2005. During this training period at the National School of Art in Havana, he participated in the ITs Festival in the Netherlands under the direction of Feri de Geus and Noortje Bijvoets. Subsequently, he joined the Cuban dance company Ballet Rakatan, dancing as a soloist. In 2007, he became a member of Danza Contemporánea de Cuba, participating in several international tours to England, Mexico, Hungary, Poland, Spain, the Netherlands, Australia and the United States. He has also performed in the Sziget Festival in Budapest, Mercat de Les Flors in Barcelona, Brisbane Festival, Manchester International Festival, The Bydgoszcz Opera Festival, and Virginia Arts Festival. Edson was made Principal Dancer in 2010. During his tenure with Danza Contemporánea de Cuba, he worked with choreographers Rafael Bonachela, Carlos Junior Acosta, George Céspedes, Julio César Iglesias, Juan Kruz Díaz de Garaio Esnaola, Mats Ek, Itzik Galili, and Pedro Ruiz, and performed works by Jan Linkens and Kenneth Kvarström. He is now a company dancer in Concert Dance, Inc. under the direction of Venetia Stifler.
Mary O'Rourke began her dance training in Buffalo, New York, and received her B.A. in dance from Loyola University Chicago. She has presented choreography at Noumenon New Moves Choreography Competition, Going Dutch Festival, and at the Conservatory of Music in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. In addition to traveling to Vietnam, she has traveled to Havana, Cuba to participate in a cultural exchange with La Escuela Nacional de Arte as well as collaborate on a dance for camera. She holds a deep interest in the relationship between dance and theatre and was able to explore this partnership in collaboration with director/deviser Ann Kreitman on a devised physical theatre work Les Innocents performed in Mason Hall at the Preston Bradley Center and (Re)discover Theatre’s For One. She has previously worked with Khecari as an understudy/performer in The Cronus Land, The Retreat, and participated in their DCASE residency at the Chicago Cultural Center as a performer in TEEM part 2. Additionally, she has begun working with Haymarket Opera Company and danced in their production of Ariane et Bachus. Mary joined CDI as a company apprentice in May 2015 and was promoted to full company member in December 2015.
Jessie Gutierrez is native of Havana, Cuba. She studied at the Escuela Nacional de Arte in Havana during which time she participated in The International Theater School Festival in Holland and graduated as a professional dancer and teacher. In 2002 she continued her professional training with the National Company, Danza Contemporánea de Cuba, and toured to England, Spain, Portugal, Turkey, Italy, Hong Kong, Mexico, Austria, and Hungary as a company dancer. She became a principal dancer in 2006 and worked with internationally recognized choreographers Jan Linkens, Cathy Marston, Rafael Bonachela, Carlos Junior Acosta, Samir Akika, Luca Bruni, Kenneth Kvarnstrom, and Andrea Miler. She moved to Chicago in 2008 and began working with Hedwig Dances and Concert Dance, Inc. She also was part of the 2010 Lyric Opera Season as a dancer in “Damnation of Faust”.
Olivia Gonzalez is a Cuban-born dancer. She graduated from the Escuela Nacional de Arte in Havana, Cuba and then began working at Retazos Dance Theater, where she danced for four years. She has participated in many international festivals, including those in Sweden, Canada, Uruguay, and the United States. She moved to Chicago, and is now a company dancer in Concert Dance, Inc. under the direction of Venetia Stifler.
Rigoberto Fernandez Saura
Rigoberto Fernandez Saura graduated from Havana’s Escuela Nacional de Cuba and the Instituto Superieur de Arte with a degree in dance. He danced as a soloist with Danza Contemporanea de Cuba (2008-2012) and served as a professor of dance at the National School of Contemporary Dance in Havana. He moved to Ecuador in 2013 where he danced as a soloist in the National Ballet of Ecuador and served as choreographic assistant to Pepe Hevia. Mr. Fernandez Saura was composition master in the Metropolitan School of Ecuador and choreographed performances for Ecuador’s Urban Ballet. He recently moved to Chicago where he dances with Hedwig Dances and Concert Dance, Inc., and teaches at the Ruth Page School of Dance.
Former Principal dancer in Retazos Dance-Theater (Cuba) 2007-2016. Professional Dancer at Lucky Plush Productions and Concert Dance Incorporated. Rodolfo Sanchez was born in Cuba and graduated from National School of Arts Instructors and have studies in the University of Arts. Principal dancer in the Retazos Dance-Theater cia. 2007-2016. Participate in several international tours to Italy, Sweden, U.K. , USA, Uruguay and Argentina. Sánchez worked with choreographers Isabel Bustos, Stéphane Boko, Miguel Azcue, Pepe Hevia, Venetia Stifler, Julia Rhodes among others.
Taimy Ramos grew up in Pinar del Rio, Cuba and graduated from the National School of Dance in Havana, Cuba. She became a company dancer in the Havana-based DanzAbierta in 2008, where she took part in the creation and interpretation of Susana Pous' MalSon, Showroom, and Welcome. During her time with the company she performed and taught at major international dance festivals in the Netherlands, Hungary, Canada, Colombia, Ecuador, Martinique, French Guiana, and the United States. She moved to Chicago in 2016 and started working with Concert Dance, Inc.