On Friday, May 6th, 2016 the corner of Clark Street and Thorndale Avenue in Chicago’s Edgewater neighborhood was officially designated “Honorary Joel Hall Way.” (Pictured from left to right: 48th Ward Alderman Harry Osterman, Lori Cannon and Joel Hall. Photo by Leni Manaa Hoppenworth)
The historic distinction commemorates Joel Hall’s 40+ years of service to the Chicago community — and a lifetime of artistic achievements and contributions to the dance world. Chicago City officials, community activists, representatives from local businesses, the Joel Hall Dancers, and a host of friends and family joined Joel Hall to celebrate the occasion during a moving ceremony at the Edgewater dance studio complex.
“For over 4 decades, Joel Hall has achieved truly global acclaim as a choreographer and dance instructor who has inspired countless generations of artists and audiences,” said Alderman Harry Osterman of Chicago’s 48th Ward, and sponsor of street naming designation petition in the Chicago City Council. “Joel Hall has passionately and diligently dedicated his life and career to using the arts to enrich our community and its many citizens through affordable and accessible dance education and performance. Mr. Hall also once served among Mayor Harold Washington’s international ambassadors for the arts — sharing dance from the streets of Chicago to the far reaches of the globe.” (Artwork by Jane Williams Ferris foretold the moment.)
A native of Chicago’s Cabrini Green, Joel Hall maintains an esteemed reputation as an icon and “living legend” of the dance world. His own unique dance style of American Urban Jazz Dance — is based in jazz, and expresses a rich vocabulary fusing both classical and modern dance idioms. Since the 70’s, Joel Hall has created more than seventy ballets for his own company and is noted in several major books on the contemporary dance arts, including; Black Dance by Edward Thorpe, dance critic for The London Standard, and The Black Tradition in American Dance by Richard Long. (Photo of Joel Hall at left by Tony Smith)
About Joel Hall:
Over the years, Joel Hall has been the recipient of numerous awards & accolades. In 1993, he was also inducted into the Chicago Gay & Lesbian Hall of Fame. Hall has been further saluted by The Chicago Dance & Music Alliance with their prestigious “Lifetime Achievement for Service to the Field” award — and has also earned a “Lifetime Achievement Award” from the Jazz Dance World Congress. In November of 2014, Joel Hall was honored with the “Lifetime Achievement Award” from the African American Arts Alliance — and he also was profiled in The History Makers series online, and officially archived by the Library of Congress. (Click here for more.)
About Joel Hall Dancers & Center:
Joel Hall Dancers & Center (JHDC) — officially incorporated in 1974 as The Chicago City Theatre Company —targets those who may not otherwise be exposed to the arts — by providing affordable dance classes along with local, national, & international showcase performances.
The Joel Hall Dancers express contemporary urban life through dance while educating, entertaining, and inspiring their audience. The signature dance style of JHD incorporates ballet, jazz, modern, funk, and “street dance” using contemporary jazz and house music to create an innovative and continuously evolving dance style that is appealing, relevant, and approachable for those frequently underserved by the arts.
The Joel Hall Dancers maintain a citywide, national, and international reputation, not only for their diversity and innovation, but also for their substantive sociological content and engaging aesthetic style. Under the leadership of Founder & Artistic Director Joel Hall, the Joel Hall Dancers have carried their unique yet universally accessible voice to venues that span the world. Both JHD and its audience exhibit a rare diversified spectrum of cultural, ethnic, racial, and socio-economic backgrounds.
Photos in gallery below courtesy of Leni Manaa-Hoppenworth.