Lucky Plush Productions
This Chicago-based dance theater company, led by founder and Artistic Director Julia Rhoads, is committed to provoking and supporting an immediacy of presence – a palpable liveness – shared by performers in real-time with audiences. A unique hybrid of high-level dance and theater, Lucky Plush’s work is recognized for its layered choreography, moving content, surprising humor, and socially relevant storytelling. Since 2000, Lucky Plush has created 30 original dance-theater works including 14 evening-length productions. In addition to regularly performing in Chicago, the company has presented work in over 40 US cities from Maine to Hawaii, and its international partners span from New Zealand to Cuba. Lucky Plush is the first and only dance company to receive the prestigious MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions, a recognition of the company’s exceptional creativity and impact. Lucky Plush has also received awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, NEFA’s National Dance Project, National Performance Network, Illinois Arts Council, Metlife Foundation, and the Lester and Hope Abelson Fund.
JULIA RHOADS is the founding Artistic Director of Lucky Plush Productions, a dance-theater company recognized for its layered choreography, nuanced dialogue, surprising humor, and socially relevant storytelling. Her work with Lucky Plush has been presented in over 40 US cities from Maine to Hawaii, and international partners span from New Zealand to Cuba. Her independent choreography credits include Steppenwolf Theatre’s Love Kills, Lookingglass Theatre’s The Great Fire, Walkabout Theater’s Mama: A Play for Voices, Redmoon’s Project Y, River North Chicago Dance Company’s Oasis and Between Three, among others, and she will create a new work for Hubbard Street Dance Chicago in 2017.
Under Rhoads’s leadership, Lucky Plush received the prestigious MacArthur Award in 2016, recognizing the company’s exceptional creativity and impact. Her independent and collaborative work for the company has also been supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, National Dance Project, National Performance Network, and MetLife Foundation, among others, and commissioning presenters include Harris Theater (IL), Krannert Center for the Performing Arts (IL), Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (IL), Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center (MD), Flynn Center for the Performing Arts (VT), and Links Hall (IL).
Rhoads is the recipient of the 2013 Alpert Award in Dance, a fellowship from the Maggie Allesee National Center for Choreography, a Chicago Dancemakers Forum Lab Artist Award, a Cliff Dwellers Choreography Award, two Illinois Arts Council Fellowships for Choreography, a Jacob K. Javits Fellowship, and a 2014 Fractured Atlas Arts Entrepreneurship Award for spearheading a shared fundraising model between Lucky Plush, Grammy-winning Eighth Blackbird, and puppet theater company Blair Thomas & Co. She was named as one of Dance Magazine’s “25 to Watch” in 2010, and has three times been named in Newcity’s “Players: The 50 People Who Really Perform for Chicago.”
Rhoads is a former member of the San Francisco Ballet and ensemble member of XSIGHT! Performance Group. She received her BA in History from Northwestern University, her MFA in Performance from the School of the Art Institute Chicago, and she has taught in the dance and theater programs of several Chicago-area colleges and universities. She is currently a Part-time Lecturer and Dance Advisor in Theater and Performance Studies at The University of Chicago.
Leslie Buxbaum Danzig
LESLIE BUXBAUM DANZIG is a collaborating director with Julia Rhoads/Lucky Plush Productions, where she co-created The Better Half, and The Queue. For over a decade, Leslie was resident director of the Chicago-based nationally touring physical theater company 500 Clown, whose shows (Macbeth, Frankenstein, Christmas and Elephant Deal) performed in Chicago at venues including Steppenwolf Theatre Company and Lookingglass Theatre. Other credits include stage directing Wild Sound, composed by Wilco’s Glenn Kotche for Third Coast Percussion, with performances at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC, and with upcoming tours in the US and Europe; directing Damon Kiely’s The Revel (House Theatre), Redmoon’s Hunchback, and About Face Theater’s Float; co-directing Redmoon’s The Elephant and the Whale; and touring nationally and internationally as an actor with NYC’s Elevator Repair Service. Leslie has taught for University of Chicago’s Theater & Performance Studies and Northwestern’s MFA Directing program. She received her PhD in Performance Studies at Northwestern University and trained in physical theater at Écoles Jacques Lecoq and Philippe Gaulier. She is the curator of the University of Chicago’s Gray Center for Arts and Inquiry, a laboratory for experimental collaborations between artists and scholars.