Who Am I?
I am an Emmy-nominated choreographer and was the Executive and Artistic Director of The Ruth Page Center for the Arts,( 1999-2020) guiding the vision of the organization left to Chicago by the dance icon and pioneer Ruth Page. I am also the Artistic Director of CDI/Concert Dance Inc., which was the official contemporary dance company of the Ruth Page Center 1999-2020) which performed choreography by myself and other leading contemporary artists while also exploring and re-envisioning Ms. Page’s work.
Upon her death in 1991, Ruth Page left behind a rich artistic legacy that included a school of dance, archival library, theater, offices for arts groups, groundbreaking choreography, and The Ruth Page Center for the Arts. As it’s first Executive and Artistic Director I lead the organization as it codified its commitment to meeting the needs of the Chicago dance community. I led a re-focus and re-organization of the Ruth Page Center in 1999, resulting in the Executive Director position and renewed life for the organization. Having become its Executive and Artistic Director in 2000, I helped to bring into greater focus the Ruth Page Center’s mission of ensuring that children and dance artists have a place to study, work and perform at the highest level of excellence.
I re-envisioned Ruth Page’s groundbreaking 1947 “ballet carton” Billy Sunday which came alive again in 2007 with several stage productions and in the PBS documentary produced by HMS Media. A two-year project, Billy Sunday not only brought this masterpiece work to new audiences, but also garnered several Emmy nominations from The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.
I re-envisioned the organization and reformulated its structure by forming a fundraising Board of Directors and changing the organizational status from being a private foundation to a public charity. The goal was to grow the image of the Ruth Page Foundation from one that was limited to its school of ballet. In my twenty year tenure The Ruth Page Center for the Arts expanded and became an Chicago arts institution.
From 1987-2014, I was the Coordinator of Dance at Northeastern Illinois University guiding the Dance Program. In 1991, I created the Ruth Page Dance Series, whose mission was to produce a number of Chicago dance companies for the benefit of both the dance and the NEIU communities. I helped to establish an institutional relationship between between the Ruth Page Foundation and Northeastern Il. U.
In 1985, working with the Chicago Dance Arts Coalition, I gained permission from the Ruth Page Foundation to create a dance award in honor of Ms. Ruth Page. Mr. Jerold Solovy, then Chairman of the Ruth Page Foundation Board supported the proposal.
Between 1982-88, Venetia Stifler and Concert Dance, Inc. was in residence at Mundelein College (now part of Loyola University) in Chicago.
Venetia Stifler & Dancers
CDI/Concert Dance, Inc., was 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 served as Coordinator of Dance at Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago, where she holds the tltle of Professor Emerita. 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
For months, as we worked together, Kathy Cowen, my collaborator and friend, sang me songs about the Irish coming to America, where they found work