Hyde Park School of Dance gears up for celebration

Staff Writer

Hyde Park School of Dance (HPSD) is preparing for its 20th anniversary with “En Avant,” a celebration featuring a variety of dance performances this June. In anticipation of the event, HPSD Founding Artistic Director August Tye reflects over the past 20 years and looks forward to many more.

“En Avant,” French for “moving forward,” will take place June 14 at 7 p.m. and June 15 at 2 p.m. at the Reva and David Logan Arts Center, 915 E. 60th St. Performers include The Joffrey Ballet, Joel Hall, Deeply Rooted, Tyego Dance Project and HPSD alumni and students.

The HPSD, then known as the Hyde Park School of Ballet, was founded in 1993 by its first board president, Marilyn Sheperd. When the board of the School of Chicago Ballet — where Sheperd’s daughters were dance students — voted to close the school, Sheperd decided to create a new board for a new dance program. She then asked Tye, a Kalamzoo, Mich., native who at the time was a new dance teacher, fresh out of college and new to Chicago, if she would be the artistic director of the school.

“It was scary to start a school,” Tye said. “I was only 23 when they started the school, but I was able to do it because I had [Sheperd’s] support.”

Tye said the school, which teaches dance forms such as ballet, modern, jazz and hip-hop to those from ages three to adult, quickly grew from 30 students the first semester to 60 the next semester and then 90. The school also went from a few teachers to 27 instructors, 11 accompanists and countless volunteers that do things such as sew costumes, create scenery and chaperone the children who come into the school in the afternoons.

Tye said that while it’s nice to celebrate the past 20 years, the school is also thinking about the future.

“We have been at First Unitarian Church for 20 years,” Tye said. “It’s a great place but eventually we want a place of our own with a theater so we can have in-studio showings. We also look forward to developing it into [a] full-time dance school.”

Tickets to “En Avant” are $35–$75 for the performance; a $100 ticket to the Saturday performance includes a post-show reception. Tickets are available at 773-493-8498 or hydeparkdance.org.