Columbia College Chicago selects new Dance Center Chair

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Onye Ozuzu to Lead Department Beginning in June


Chicago, IL – The Dance Department at Columbia College Chicago has named Onye Ozuzu as its new chair, beginning June 29.

A dance administrator, performing artist, choreographer, educator, and researcher, Ozuzu received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature with a minor in Economics and a Masters of Fine Arts degree in Dance Performance and Choreography at Florida State University.  She has most recently been serving as Associate Chair, Director of Dance in the Department of Theatre and Dance at the University of Colorado, Boulder.  Her work there is noted for its balance of visionary and practical progress in the arenas of curricular, artistic, and community development of diversity, collaboration, and interdisciplinary performance arts. 

“We’re thrilled Onye is joining us and so excited for the new technique and choreography ideas she will bring to Columbia,” said Eliza Nichols, dean of the School of Fine and Performing Arts at Columbia College Chicago. “The Dance Center takes pride in our faculty, comprised of working artists, and Onye will be an amazing addition to this group.

The Dance Center aims to provide students with a superior contemporary dance education in the context of higher learning. Established in 1969 to house the Dance Department, The Dance Center has grown into a nationally respected academic program. Challenging technique courses across a range of styles, combined with the study of improvisation, composition, dance history and theory, music, and technical theater, provide students with learning and practice to prepare them for professional and graduate endeavors. The Dance Center is also Chicago’s leading presenter of contemporary dance. Since 1974, its public programming arm has presented more than 255 professional contemporary dance companies of national, international and regional significance to campus and Chicago audiences.   

Currently, Ozuzu teaches African-based contemporary dance technique, Composition, World Dance and Culture, Improvisation, Creative Dance for Children, and a graduate seminar titled The African in American, Perspectives and Implications: A Dancer’s View.  Onye has been actively making and performing work since 1997 and has appeared nationally and internationally at The Joyce Soho (Manhattan, NY), Kaay Fecc Festival De Toutes les Danses (Dakar, Senegal), La Festival del Caribe (Santiago, Cuba), Lisner Auditorium (Washington DC), McKenna Museum of African American Art (New Orleans), and more.  She was a 2010 recipient of the Innovative Seed Grant, University of Colorado’s most prestigious research grant, for her ethnographic research project ADADIA African Drum and Dance in America: the Oral History Archive.

“The combination of world-renowned performers, innovative academic programs, and an acute sensitivity for emerging collaborative, interdisciplinary, and culturally relevant values, make The Dance Center an unmatched environment for student development,” said Ozuzu. “As chair, I’ll continue to ensure The Dance Center is at the leading edge of public performances, curriculum, and engaged arts practices.”

Ozuzu will spend this summer at EarthDance Workshop and Retreat Center as well as teaching at Bates Dance Festival, where she continues to work as an AfroModern contemporary technique teacher and expand on Technology of the Circle, a group improvisation and interdisciplinary performance process.  Her most recent choreographic endeavor, “And They Lynched him on a Tree,” is a multidisciplinary collaborative effort that premiered in February at the ATLAS Black Box Theatre, in Boulder, Colo.

Columbia College Chicago is an urban institution that offers innovative degree programs in the visual, performing, media and communication arts to more than 12,000 students in over 120 undergraduate and graduate programs. An arts and media college committed to a rigorous liberal arts curriculum, Columbia is dedicated to opportunity and excellence in higher education. For further information, visit

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