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Our Mission

Laboratory Dancers is an inclusive artist collective that provides Chicago with accessible and affordable dance performance, education, and interaction. We strive to make dance accessible to newcomers and engaging to those already familiar with the art form.

 

Rooted in sensation and experiential-based movement, we explore the intricacies of our lived experiences and the broader societal dynamics that shape them. We firmly believe in the power of collective creativity, fostering a collaborative spirit within our dancemaking process and actively seeking partnerships with other artists across various mediums. Together, we strive to create work that engages and inspires audiences while fostering meaningful connections and dialogue. We want to make visitors feel comfortable inside the venue and riveted inside the work.

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Our Story

Established in 2009 by a group of college friends, Laboratory Dancers was born from a desire to make dance accessible. We brought movement to atypical spaces, aiming to de-formalize dance and create exposure in unconventional settings. Since then, we've expanded our works to venues including Links Hall, Hamlin Park Fieldhouse, Viaduct Theater, The Den Theatre, and Athenaeum Theatre. Our curiosity and sense of adventure have taken us on two successful tours and inspired collaboration with a diverse range of local and national artists. As we've evolved, welcoming new dancers and choreographers, expanding our conception of accessibility, and growing in our creative processes, we remain steadfast in our commitment to inclusivity and innovation.

Meet The Lab Rats

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Alex Subak (she/her)

Alex has been creating and performing music and dance in Chicago since 2005. After graduating from Columbia College Chicago, she co-founded the Laboratory Dancers with her partner in crime, Emily Lukasewski. Their shared passion to make modern dance more accessible has driven Lab Dance to perform all over Chicago at bars, art galleries, cafes, and theaters. Some of her favorite performances have been at Hamlin Park, Links Hall, The Athenaeum Theatre, The Ball Hall, The Burlington, the Den, and the Fulton Street Collective. When she isn’t immersed in Laboratory Dancer’s endeavors, she is the front woman for Chicago grunge band badcandy, back-up singer for Chicago blues/rock band Local Motive, personal trainer, martial artist, and domestic violence support advocate.

photo by Matthew Gregory Hollis

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Erika Farkvam (she/her)

Erika Astrid Farkvam grew up dancing at the Academy of Movement and Music in Oak Park, IL., where her love of dance began. She moved to Tucson to attend the University of Arizona, where she received her BFA in Dance. While in college, Erika had the privilege of studying at the San Francisco Conservatory of Dance and in Ghana, West Africa. Upon graduating, Erika danced and choreographed for New ARTiculations Dance Theater, engaging in work that was relevant to social and environmental issues within the Tucson community. Since returning to Chicago, Erika has performed for Momenta, Darling Shear, Kate Corby Dance, Laboratory Dancers, The Fly Honey Show, Erin Kilmurray, Duo Tandem, Daiva Bhandari, RE|dance Group, and Jessica Kondrath. In addition to working at Trader Joe's, Erika currently dances for RE|dance Group and Laboratory Dancers.

photo by Matthew Gregory Hollis

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Michael O'Neill (he/him)

Michael O’Neill graduated magna cum laude with a BFA in Performance and Choreography from the Ohio University School of Dance. He currently resides in Chicago, IL where he has danced over the past decade with companies such as We Stand Sideways, Mordine & Company Dance Theater, RE|dance Group, Kelly Anderson Dance Theatre and Same Planet Performance Project. Although recently taking time away from dance to pursue other adventures, Michael is super excited to be back in the Chicago dance scene performing with Chloe Grace Michels and Laboratory Dancers this year!

photo by Matthew Gregory Hollis

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Cheryl Cornacchione (she/her)

Cheryl Cornacchione holds a B.F.A. in Dance Performance and Choreography from the University of Southern Mississippi. Upon graduating, Cheryl moved to Chicago where she has performed with BONEdanse, CORE Dance Project, Hope Goldman, We Stand Sideways Dance, Erin Kilmurray, Chicago Danztheatre Ensemble, and was an artistic collaborator with The Runaways Lab Theatre. Cheryl has been a company member of RE|dance Group Group since 2022, she has been a core company member of Kelly Anderson Dance Theater since 2014, and has been performing for and collaborating with Laboratory Dancers since 2013. Cheryl spends the rest of her free time on her other passion - helping others get strong and move better through personal training!

photo by Matthew Gregory Hollis

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Beth Berta (she/her)

Beth Berta earned her BA in Dance from Columbia College of Chicago and became a founding member of Laboratory Dancers. Aside from performing with the Lab Rats at various venues in Chicago, Portland, Minneapolis, Columbus, Ann Arbor, and Seattle, Beth has studied with Susan Marshall & Company and had the privilege of working with Kaitlin Fox and CUBE ensemble. Beth believes in using movement as a catalyst for healing, connection, and self-discovery, so she recently took a break from dance performance to complete her MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and pursue a Dance/Movement Therapy credential. Now working as a therapist, Beth is awed by the creative process and finds joy in collaborative and improvisation-based dancemaking.

photo by Matthew Gregory Hollis

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Haley Bergschneider (she/her)

Haley is a founding member of Laboratory Dancers and has choreographed and performed in several projects since its conception in 2009. She has dabbled with other dance projects including Subconscious Development Motion Project and Trip the Dark. While residing in Portland, OR, she experimented with screen dance, collaborating with filmmakers and contributing choreography for local Portland music videos. Haley also studies and teaches Integral Yoga and works in Montessori education, guiding children to internalize a visceral experience of peacefulness.

photo by Matthew Gregory Hollis

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