Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Alumni Spotlight Lisa Martain Hoffer



Lisa Martain Hoffer, Special Events and Corporate Membership Coordinator at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago 

What years did you work with The Dance COLEctive?  

1994 - 1995?? I'm still amazed and honored Margi asked me to be a part of her inaugural year. What was she thinking? lol. Pretty sure I said yes immediately. I had been a dance major in high school and college but 10 years post, I was past planning to perform. I wasn't even taking class regularly. I truly enjoyed the opportunity to join The Dance COLEctive of the transformative journey of that first year.  

Lisa in action!

Any favorite TDC Memories? 

Someone always had to hold my hand during crossovers because I couldn't see anything in the dark without my glasses. "Who's got Lisa??" And laughing our asses off about everything. We were all good friends before we became a company. I think that came through in our performances; our desire to make Margi proud.  



In costume in Women's Song

On Stage or Site-Specific Performance? 

I'll never forget the sounds of the train at Links Hall (Wrigleyville location). Once we went on right after another group who had used sod in their performance. We took our bows coated in dirt and grass in unusual places. The lack of air conditioning really made it stick.



What are you doing now?  

I've always worked for non-profits and/or cultural institutions which is how I met Margi. I was Assistant to the Chair at The Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago where of course Margi was on staff. I'm going on 2.5 years now as the Special Events and Corporate Membership Coordinator at the Museum of Science and Industry. I squeeze in a class when the mood hits me. Though I'll confess it's not that often as the years go by. 

First Night Springfield 


Where can we find more information about you? 


Do you use any Margi-ism’s?

Sweaty coo-potch - Not for use around parents or children but sometimes your dance clothes don't breathe the way they should. 

Ginch - Every joint in my body has a ginch. Getting older is getting harder to ignore.  

Memory from Margi

Lisa really worked with the company before it was officially "the company"!  Before we did real video documentation.  Before big company photo shoots. I had the pleasure of meeting and working with her at the Dance Center.  What stands out in my memory was her genuine enthusiasm to be a part of a creative process, her outstanding sense of humor and her distinctive laugh!  Never a dull moment when Lisa was in the room.  That has continued for as long as I have known her.  I was drawn to her long beautiful limbs and quirky and unassuming movement style.  Lisa was integral in helping to establish the vibrant energy that sparked the development of The Dance COLEctive.  She has remained a true friend and fan!!

Margi and Lisa in 1995/96?!



Sunday, January 30, 2022

Alumni Spotlight on Laurel Moore Zahrobsky


Laurel Moore Zahrobsky

Director of Terpsichord, Dance Teacher/Girls Preparatory School Chattanooga, TN

What years did you work with The Dance COLEctive? 


1995-2000 (I think. Or maybe 2001?) We met when I was part of the Columbia College Summer Dance Intensive. She selected me for her piece. After that, I was contracted per show before she formally began The Dance COLEctive. When she started the company, I was a founding member.


Laurel with Julie Tice Photo by William Frederking


Any favorite TDC Memories? 

Loads of fun memories Rehearsals that felt like they lasted 15 minutes because we were having so much fun, road trips for performances, cocktail hours in our down time, birthday parties, and life changing moments we all got through together just to name a few. I loved partnering with Margi. When we danced together it was like dancing with an extension of myself.

On-Stage or Site-Specific Performance? 


There were so many performance opportunities that Margi provided us. Some of my favorites were the site-specific ones. She bought pallets of grass for a street performance we did on the south side. That was a very surreal performance for me because it was tied into the history of the houses where we were dancing. I love that kind of stuff! Mixing art and history and bringing it to a present day audience. So exhilarating! We also had a blast performing at the Illinois State Fair. It was hilarious to dance in front of crowds who had no idea what modern dance was. The tractor pull line was my favorite. And then there were people who loved it when we danced in the art gallery at the fair. That was really neat. We wore matching shirts, red bikers and tennis shoes. It was a ton of fun. 


At the Illinois State Fair dancing everywhere that was not a stage.

For about three years in a row, we spent New Year's Eve in Springfield as part of their First Night performance. It was a lot of fun performing and then ringing in the New Year with the company. Lots of laughs during those evenings!


We performed everywhere from the Athenaeum to Columbia College to the MCA and every time we finished, she would have already started working on another show. Margi always worked really hard to make sure we could share her work and be seen in every venue possible.

Trembling in the Balance at the Athenaeum Theater with Amy, Ebony, Margi and Edna 1999

What are you doing now? 


I am the Director of a dance program at Girls Preparatory School in Chattanooga, TN. Even though we are not a performing arts school, dance is a huge part of the curriculum for students. Our high school company is one of the longest-running in the nation. It began in 1960. I am only the third director in the school's dance program.

Where can we find more information about you? 


There are some articles written about me through GPS but I don't have a website or anything like that. You can check out my school profile here.

Do you use any Margi-ism’s?


Rock star parking is still one of my favorites to say. And I also use spackle (makeup). I'm sure I use more but they are so engrained in my vocabulary I don't even notice anymore. However, no one says a Margi-ism like Margi!


Memory from Margi 


I met Laurel in 1995 when I did a mentoring project in the summer program at the Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago. We just seemed to hit it off. I remember being struck by her fearless physicality and her sense of humor! She was always willing to make bold choices and have fun. We also had the south in common. Laurel and her family have been loving and gracious hosts to me and the company. When Laurel had the chance to move back to Chattanooga and teach I was truly sad to see her go. I also knew that it was the best thing for her and her growing family.  AND, I knew that she was going to do an amazing job! Lucky for me, she has remained a dear and valued friend. I am so proud of the work that she does at GPS and one of my proudest moments was seeing her receive the Tennessee Association of Dance Outstanding Dance Educator Award in 2014. Dang, I am getting misty... Thank you for helping to lay the groundwork for future dancers to be fearless and make bold choices!


Me and Laurel Summer 2021

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