Rena Butler

Interview Highlights
Q: What social changes and responsibilities have you seen people making during the pandemic?
"I think it’s still... kind of mutating. I think people are still trying to find a way to engage each other. I think of it in many different sectors, like, there’s the “take dance, stay in shape, keep dancing, keep dancing” aspect, and then the mental health aspect. There is one topic that morphs into something else and keeps bubbling and branching out. I do feel Hubbard Street has been taking more initiative to engage its public, which I really love, like Robyn Mineko Williams teaching a movement phrase each day. I think she is going to build something out of it. It isn’t something I have seen Hubbard do, or they’re doing it in a different way. It is nice to see the mindfulness behind it. I think people are still trying to get the art out there and keep the organizations running and jobs kept. The effort to engage more and find new things within the dance community is lovely to see. I have never seen certain dance companies online and it is nice to have a moment to sit down and watch things and see what my algorithms are picking up."

Q: How have people’s priorities shifted during the pandemic?
"I see people social distancing but it doesn't feel vicious. For example, when I go to the grocery store, I see people yielding to each other but not in a vicious or fearful way. I think as a country, we have a hard time being caring. Our motto is “work hard, bigger, better, faster.” And so now I can see our community coming together more. I do feel like there is this openness that is starting to happen. It's a good thing we are all hibernating for now, but I hope we hold on to this collectiveness. I am really interested to see the response when things do get better, because sometimes in a blink of an eye, you forget the bad moments and I wonder if people will hold onto this feeling. It's exciting in a way."
Read full interview here

Born in Chicago, IL, Rena Butler trained at The Chicago Academy for the Arts, studied overseas at Taipei National University of the Arts, and received her BFA from SUNY Purchase Conservatory of Dance. Rena currently dances for Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, and previously for companies such as Kyle Abraham/Abraham.In.Motion, Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company, Manuel Vignoulle, and The Merce Cunningham Trust “Night of 100 Solos: A Centennial Event” in Los Angeles, CA. Butler was named Choreographic Fellow for Hubbard Street Dance Chicago in 2018. Her choreographic work includes a collaboration with Academy Award-winning composer Terrence Blanchard, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, and more. Her upcoming commissions include BalletX, Boston Dance Theater, and a dance film for Grammy-Award winning ensemble, Third Coast Percussion. She currently serves on The Consortium for Chicago Dancemakers Forum, and is based in Chicago and New York.