Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Alumni Spotlight on Edna Radnik Madonia


Edna Radnik Madonia

Dancer, Personal Trainer, Group Exercise Instructor, Barre Instructor 

What years did you work with The Dance COLEctive?   

Founding Member from 1996 to 2003 (I think...)

Any favorite TDC Memories?

First Night in Springfield for the New Year.  Was great to travel, perform and ring in the New Year with friends. Of course it was cold and snowy.  I was driving an old Jeep Wrangler at that time and had heat blasting. It was still so cold that Ebony and I had to put blankets on the entire drive home.

First Night Springfield with Laurel, Ebony, Margi, Lisa, Edna and Nancy


On Stage or Site-Specific Performance?

Glessner House, outside on the grass! It was a beautiful night, string musicians and we closed the street off and danced on sod. The clean up was hilarious as we never realized how heavy sod was until we had to load it on a truck.

Edna in the grass piece 9/9/99

What are you doing now?

Edna!  Looking Good!  

I am currently a fitness instructor and have been teaching for over 25 years!  After leaving the Center for Community Arts Partnerships at Columbia College Chicago (CCAP-which Margi helped found in 1998) in 2013, I devoted my time to The Dailey Method (TDM) and became a master barre instructor before the studio closed. I was training clients and teaching group classes at a medically integrated facility before being recruited 8 years ago to Life Time Fitness in Burr Ridge.

You can follow Edna on Instagram @fitedna

 Do you use any Margi-ism’s?

We said rock star A LOT in the beginning days and even had stickers in the office that we shared at Columbia. Every time I see a snot guard on a salad bar I laugh out loud and think about attempting a back bend over it.

Margi and Edna in 2018

 Memory from Margi

I met Edna in 1995 when I did a mentoring project in the summer at The Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago.  She was short, like me and she was a brave and voracious mover!  She had power and guts and I loved that about her. As I got to know her over many years she was a reliable friend and partner to me and the dancers. She was smart, with quick wit and a passion for teaching. She shared with us her love of animals, family and camping. Edna was always in a good mood and was armed with a gracious smile for everyone. I know those are all reasons why she currently has such an amazing following in the work that she does now. Her strength, beauty and energy really brought vibrancy to our creative process. I am proud that she is a founding member of the company and grateful for all her contributions and paving the way for many dancers who came after her!

Photo by William Frederking

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Minding the Gap/Wrapping up 2020







2020 began with a seemingly good start...


I was in final rehearsals for a solo commission with the amazing choreographer Bebe Miller,

taught at the Alabama Dance Festival,

visited a dear friend in VA,

started the spring semester of my 25th year teaching at Columbia College, 

dove into making a new dance with a delightful bunch of students at Columbia, 

was in the planning phases of a shared concert with Raquel Monroe and Lisa Gonzales at Links Hall to premiere the Bebe Miller Solo, 

and was looking forward to plans developing for the rest of the year, especially summer.


Then, everything shut down. My teaching at Columbia went fully remote and everything was uncertain. I started to feel like this.

Plan A, Plan B, Plan C, Plan D…  Plans continued to fall away.


Spring Alabama School of Fine Arts residency canceled,

New student work canceled,

June concert cancelled,

Participation in July workshop with Bebe Miller and collaboration with a friend canceled,

Synapse Arts community classes canceled,

Joffrey Summer Intensive classes canceled.


All of this was amplified by civil unrest around the world and my powerful obsession with the news. My obsession was an effort to try and comprehend the chaos happening around us while the world was blanketed with an eerie silence.  I had to stop listening to NPR for awhile. 

I felt like I was in a GAP.

In this moment, I chose to hunker down, listen quietly and be still. I was a bit frozen in my ability to be creative.  Sometimes just getting through the day was a challenge.


In listening, I am certain that many structures in the arts and the world need to change.  We all need to listen more, be more compassionate, and take action around supporting each other.


I still feel like I am in a GAP.


This fall though, we got to go back to school. I am learning how to teach in Zoom and make dances virtually.  Through my work in the dance program at Columbia College I was able to work with a gracious group of students.  Together, with technical support from Jacob Snodgrass, we made a work inspired by my ongoing sensation of the GAP.  If you are interested you can see what I did here. The password is RPW. 


I long for the day when we can be back in the studios dancing madly with each other.


As I look toward the upcoming 25th anniversary of The Dance COLEctive I will continue to mind the gap.  I feel humbled and grateful.  We are entering into a new year that still holds many unknowns as we wait for the pandemic to subside.  I am unsure about how we will operate on the other side of it all.  I hope to forge ahead and find ways to create work and experiences that are relevant and meaningful to our quickly changing world.


Thank you for supporting The Dance COLEctive! Wishing you health, prosperity and happiness in 2021. 



Monday, August 20, 2018

Coming Home Changed

Written by Collaborator Bonnie Brooks

Plunging in to work with the Dance COLEctive and Margi Cole on the production of REboot feels mighty familiar.  It’s a new way of working with Margi, yet it’s on familiar (and nearly familial) ground.  Ms. Cole and I have gotten used to working together.  Yet each new time we take up a new shared assignment, I am struck again by the good fortune of finding a collaborator who offers so very much.

Bonnie at work! 
We met in 1999, when I moved to Chicago to chair the Dance Department at Columbia College Chicago.  A grad of the program (who’d gone on to earn an MFA at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign), Margi was already teaching part-time and had spent a number of years working with Julie Simpson managing the Dance Center’s presenting series before refocusing her energy on her own dance company and on her work as an educator.  Through a series of what I’ll describe as fortunate circumstances, she advanced within the Dance Center team to become associate chair of the Dance Department for several years, giving me the “first round” of close collaboration.  We discovered we balanced each other out remarkably well.  I was often out fighting institutional admin battles, Margi keep the operation running back in the office.  I came quickly to appreciate her exceptional work ethic and the dedication she brings to what she does.  And I felt awe observing her juggle sustaining her small modern troupe, her teaching duties and student mentoring, and her admin work without, it so often appeared, missing a beat.  As time went on we came to be friends, friends who could actually work together (it’s kind of like being able to cook with someone, either you can or you can’t). 

When it came time to decide, post-chairmanship, if I would accept our Dean’s request that I take up leadership of the dance presenting series, I answered, “I can do it…if you’ll let me hire Margi to do it with me.”  She was the only person I knew who, I was certain, would be able to hit the ground running and who could read my mind as fast and accurately as I could read hers.  And so we did it – the relentless work of fundraising, producing, scheduling, keeping the internal bosses updated on all things financial, and doing our best to keep our guest artists informed and happy (that latter isn’t do-able at the Dance Center without the amazing Kevin Rechner and his tech crew, it truly takes a village).   Today, Ellen Chenoweth now runs the presenting series and continues to benefit from all the knowledge, skill and history that Margi brings to that work.  All I can say is I could not have done my part in those challenging years without her.

Last summer in beautiful Maine!
Mind you all the while Margi sustained her artistic project with the Dance COLEctive.  When she told me three or so years ago that she’d decided to re-imagine the Dance COLEctive’s mission and re-orient towards project work with a wider frame of participating artists, I remember thinking, “that’s gutsy and generous and practical.  Just like Margi.”  Giving up a steady ensemble of dancers for is no small decision for a choreographer, but Margi wanted a bigger and more flexible world.  Since making that decision, she has forged through several years of testing the waters and new short-term collaborations, she has added several solos to her personal repertory choreographed by the likes of Margaret Jenkins and Deborah Hay, and most recently she participated in a three week international residency at the Art Omi Art Center in Ghent, NY.  You can read about that in her blog posts here.

Now we are a few short weeks out from the first public performances of the Dance COLEctive since the big change.  It’ll feature Margi’s choreography plus work by Colleen Halloran and Pete Carpenter.  I’ll write about the concert in more detail an upcoming blog post.  But what she’s doing, in a way, is coming home changed.  She’s working with familiar dancers and collaborators.  The concert will be in a relatively new space dreamed up and realized by an old friend.  She’s dancing as well as choreographing.  And she’s got a back-up producer in Third Way Projects (that would be yours truly) who is also doing some re-inventing in post-institutional life.  This time I get to work on her project.  How grand is that?  It’s definitely different, but it’s also definitely like coming home. 

Opening September 14.  We so hope you will be there!

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Week One at Art OMI

In 2001 Deborah Hay asked a room full of artists in Findhorn Scotland, including me, “What if where I am is what I need?”.  Deborah has been asking herself this for a long time so it was not new to her.  But, it was a new idea for me and I ask myself this question often now, in different moments on different days for different reasons.  It has been echoing in my mind ever since I arrived on July 16.

Where am I?

Art Omi (OH MY)  is a not-for-profit arts organization with residency programs for international visual artists, writers, translators, musicians, and dancers. Art Omi believes that exposure to internationally diverse creative voices fosters tolerance and respect, raises awareness, inspires innovation, and ignites change. By forming community with creative expression as its common denominator, Omi creates a sanctuary for the artistic community and the public to affirm the transformative quality of art.

Omi International Arts Center is located in beautiful Ghent, New York, two and a half hours from New York City. Omi is situated on 300 acres of rolling farmland with spectacular views of the Catskills and the Hudson River Valley. The Fields Sculpture Park is a public exhibition space featuring over 80 contemporary sculptures. Open year-round, the park provides thousands of visitors the opportunity to experience the impact of important international contemporary sculpture in a striking natural setting.
Art Omi
My Quarters
My Room
My Room

My View

What do I need?
Curious minds and bodies
Meaningful Dialogue
Permission to focus on process without product
 What is happening?

Week one was a whirlwind of meeting new people (check them out here), sharing what we are curious about in the studio and in the world and deciding together where to direct our creative and collaborative efforts for the next two weeks.  We have begun the collaboration phase and are spending our days in and out of the studio experimenting to see if our ideas hold any water.  Some things have already revealed themselves as interesting and desirable to pursue.  Other ideas have been explored and filed away.  We are working toward an informal showing at the end of the residency.

Is Where I am What I Need?
Our studio Space in an old Barn
I am sure of it.  There is so much magic in the coming together of strangers as a clean slate with an abundance of generosity in our hearts. Everyone has been open to each other’s offerings and knowledge and accepting of the person I am in this moment.  I have been reminded that I still have the capacity to deeply feel and be present, which has felt far reaching for me for a while.  I am truly enjoying and growing from this experience and I am very excited to see what else will transpire as it continues to unfold.   More soon!

Friday, December 29, 2017

Looking toward 2018!

Photo by Lisa DeShantz-Cook
 Dear Friends,

2017 has been a vast year of change for The Dance COLEctive.  I have continued to teach, make work and perform while settling into a new mission and organizational structure.  This has meant looking forward through new lenses, seeking new opportunities and tackling new challenges.  As I continue to move forward I know that the organizational changes we made were timely, necessary and in line with the rapidly changing landscape of the arts.

So far, 2018 is set to bring:
You can keep track of what is happening on the calendar page at
Even though things have changed, TDC continues to maintain a presence here and beyond.  Thank you for your participation in the audience, in the studio, on the stage and through your donations, which are a vital part of the work we do.  If you would like to make a year-end contribution click here.  Your contribution, big or small, will help keep us thinking, making and moving!

Wishing you a happy and prosperous new year!


Margi Cole

Artistic Director

You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something - your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life. ~ Steve Jobs

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Turning 21 means changes for The Dance COLEctive

March 8, 2017
Dear Friends:

Today, our 21st birthday, I want to share some news with you. Turning 21 is a pivotal transition, a rite of passage. Ultimately, it means you are getting older and expected to be more independent, enabling you to make informed decisions and forge ahead.

For the last several years I have been questioning the suitability of the organizational business models we have used in dance to support our creative process and growth - a model that is constantly under-resourced and over time has become more difficult to sustain.  Now more than ever, I think it is important to adapt and think about what one wants to do and how one does it in entrepreneurial ways.  I feel that it is my responsibility, as a practitioner and mentor, to not only share these ideas but to be an example of change.

With that in mind, The Dance COLEctive is transitioning to a new model. After 20 years of company leadership, I want to be more accountable to my own creative process and ensuing collaborations than I have been able to be in the past. In pursuit of this objective I have decided to no longer maintain and work with a company of dancers on a continuous basis but will “pick-up” dancers as I need them for specific projects. While this is not a new idea, it is a new way to work for me and for TDC.

I am turning my attention to a deeper investigation of solo and duet work, largely through collaboration with peer artists.  This focus will guide my activity for the next two years. Collaborating on a smaller scale is not new for me.  I have always pursued and thrived in the solo form, but I have not made it my artistic priority.  Moving in this direction acknowledges and advances the uniquely generative and collaborative nature of working with other artists on new creations.
Photo by Lisa DeShantz-Cook

The decision to transition has come after intensive soul searching, rigorous analysis, and careful planning. Those who have supported and believed in TDC’s work over the years - former dancers, funders, board members and my peers in Chicago’s dance community - have inspired this change. Through a process of intentional inquiry, you all have helped me better understand what TDC is, how it is perceived, and what makes it unique. Your generous and honest input has helped me reimagine a new future for my work and the work of TDC.

To be clear, the organization is not folding and I am not quitting.  TDC is evolving into a new model will enable me to expand my work in several different ways:

1. Developing a solo focused initiative: creating, commissioning and highlighting solo work
2. Creating new works to perform under the TDC banner, with other companies or in collaboration with other artists
3.  Increasing national and international teaching and creative residencies

This change will help me realize my desire not only to sustain but to nourish myself as a thinker, mover, creator and performer. 

I continue to be grateful for all of the collaborators, mentors, funders, board members (past and present), individual donors, and my peers, who have helped the company thrive for 20 years.  In particular, I want to thank the many dancers who have worked with me.   Because of you, I have had the great privilege to experiment, learn, fail, be inspired, create and grow into a mentor, teacher and choreographer.  I am very proud of all the work we have done together, and I could not have done any of it without you!

You can read more about this change, the new mission, the website and the project announcement here. Stay tuned for updates and opportunities as our 21st year begins! Looking forward to what is to come.

With gratitude,


The Dance COLEctive announces a new direction

March 8, 2017

Contact: Jill Chukerman,, 773-392-1409

Shift in Business Model and Structure Opens 
New Opportunities
Photo by Eric Olson

The Dance COLEctive (TDC), as it reaches its 21st birthday (March 8, 2017), announces a fundamental shift in its mission, organizational structure and artistic focus.

Founder and Artistic Director Margi Cole, in a desire to be more accountable to her creative process, has consulted with various stakeholders and is evolving the company as follows:

    •    Move from maintaining an ongoing ensemble of dancers to a project-based structure, hiring dancers as projects dictate, whether they are created and performed under the TDC banner, with other companies or in collaboration with other artists
    •    Engage in a solo-focused initiative during the next 18 to 24 months, during which Cole will dance and create/commission solos she intends for performance in a variety of traditional and site-specific settings
    •    Continue building a base of national and international residencies and mentoring opportunities for the development of new work and teaching

“For the last several years I have been questioning the suitability of the organizational business models we have used in dance to support our creative process and growth—a model that is constantly under-resourced and has become more difficult to sustain,” Cole said. “Now, more than ever, I think it is important to adapt and think about what one wants to do and how one does it in entrepreneurial ways. I feel it is my responsibility, as a practitioner and mentor, to not only share these ideas but also be an example of the power of change.”

Photo by William Frederking
Among the projects Cole is pursuing is the Solo Swap Project, a structured yet free-flowing peer-to-peer collaboration with another artist that provides a unique opportunity to share creative processes, knowledge and assets that result in the development of a distinct solo for each artist. This project aims to develop scalable work while expanding, exploring and deepening the participants’ work as artists. Throughout the creative process, artists move fluidly between the roles of performer and director/choreographer, building the work out of a collective curiosity and the spoken and movement dialogue emerging from the collaboration. The Solo Swap, appropriate for traditional or nontraditional spaces, allows the artists to form a partnership of mutual learning and take artistic risks at limited financial cost.

“Collaborating on a smaller scale is not new for me,” Cole noted. “I have always pursued and thrived in the solo form, but I have not made it my artistic priority. Moving in this direction acknowledges and advances the uniquely generative and collaborative nature of working with other artists on new creations.”

Though the structure and focus of Cole’s activities is shifting, the overall artistic direction is an evolution of TDC’s history and primary work. “A hallmark of our work is our focus on the personal,” she described. “We value small audiences and small venues because they allow for a more pared-down, pointed experience with the audience that emphasizes intimacy. Site-specific performances allow TDC to explore how dance should be performed and where dance can be found, meeting people where they are—on a staircase, in a lobby, on the sidewalk. Audiences have choices they don’t typically expect: where they choose to position themselves to view the performance, how they interact with the work and how long they decide to be engaged.”

This change in structure also allows Cole to continue an important aspect of her professional work and leadership as an artist: mentoring other artists locally, through her faculty position at Columbia College Chicago, as well as nationally and internationally.

“We are optimistic about our potential,” Cole stated. “Given our longevity and history of collaboration, we have no doubt the ideas we are generating, the work we are doing and the relationships we are developing today will reveal a dynamic and interesting strategy for artistic planning, growth and change.”

Photo by Lisa DeShantz-Cook

The Dance COLEctive, created in 1996, explores fresh approaches and unexpected twists by making and performing dance via solo and collaborative initiatives. TDC supports and advances the creative vision and curiosity of its artistic director, Margi Cole, as well as partnering artists. Dedicated to teaching and mentorship, TDC motivates and nurtures the next generation of artists in the studio and beyond.

Recognized for its compelling, socially relevant and inspiring choreography, the all-female company, comprising mostly emerging artists, has contributed to the support of more than 150 collaborating artists and organizations, including locally and nationally recognized choreographers, dancers and other artists. TDC has produced more than 80 works, including those created by Cole, guest choreographers and TDC company members. In fulfilling its mission and vision, TDC embraces collaboration as a core element of its creative process and nurtures and promotes the creativity of emerging artists through mentorship. TDC performs at traditional venues, creates site-specific work and conducts residencies annually, including performances, workshops, master classes and lecture demonstrations.

Cole has received recognition for her contribution to the field of modern dance through awards including the Illinois Arts Council’s Individual Artist Fellowship, a 2015 Individual Arts Program Creative Project Grant from the City of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, a Chicago Dancemakers Forum grant and the American Marshall Memorial Fellowship, which selects leaders in their respective fields to represent the United States on a month-long tour of European countries.

The Dance COLEctive is supported by The MacArthur Funds for Arts and Culture at The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, the Illinois Arts Council, The Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, The Albert Pick Jr. Foundation and many generous individuals.

For more information and updates about The Dance COLEctive, visit; for more information about Margi Cole, visit