About Us


Founded by John Schmitz and the late Fred Solari, Dance Chicago burst onto the scene in 1995. Garnering vast support from the Chicago dance community, audience and funders, Dance Chicago has invested time, energy and creativity in building the Chicago Dance Community experienced today. The festival has created over 600 shows and showcased 15,000 acts with 150,000 artists to audiences of 250,000.


John Schmitz

John Schmitz is the co-founder of Dance Chicago and its Artistic Producer.  He has been producing inventive dance events for 40 years, promoting alliances and collaborations between artists and dance organizations both nationally and internationally. Schmitz was one of 1995 Chicago Tribune’s “Chicagoans of the Year,” a 1998 Ruth Page Award recipient for “Outstanding Contribution to the Dance Community” and the 2006 winner of Columbia College Arts “Entrepreneurship of the Year Award.” 

His programming focus is in the belief that dance can drive emotional transformation. Being non-verbal, its dramatic power is well suited to such a task. The goal is: feel better about life when you leave the theatre than you did before you entered the theatre. He has served as President of the Board of Athenaeum Theatre Productions since 2011.

Emergence Dance Theatre presents  the 30th season of Dance Chicago, an annual celebration of dance curated by Artistic Director John Schmitz. Upcoming shows are Dances from the Heart, February 8, 2025 at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie and Duke it Out! Nutcracker on December 7, 2024, at Nichols Concert Hall, MIC Evanston. Dance Chicago offers studio showcases throughout the year and studio space for dance creators. Dance Chicago annnually supports over 250 performing groups and over 2,500 individual artists spanning a wide variety of genres.