June 9, 2020

“Best in Chicago dance in 2019” – Chicago Tribune


"Cerqua Rivera Dance Theatre winds up its 20th anniversary season with

a powerhouse repertory of emotionally-driven works" – See Chicago Dance


Through an intense focus on personal narratives, the combined talents of its diverse company, and the multiple artistic languages with which they communicate, Cerqua Rivera engages audiences in magnetic human stories at once new and deeply familiar. The company’s mission for 20 years has been to apply the talents of a diverse group of collaborators to concerns that shape its community. The present moment demands Cerqua Rivera’s attention.


Cerqua Rivera Dance Theatre is proud to announce its plans to develop work in this time, about this time. These plans are guided by the company’s primary concern – for the safety of its artists, audiences, and community. Schedule subject to change as public health advice and the concerns of our artists and audiences evolve.


This company is perfectly suited to adding context, responding, and bringing joy in this moment. Audiences know that Cerqua Rivera tackles big issues and never shies away from challenging conversations. They also know that uniting people in a common humanity is the organization’s goal. This unique company finds common bonds where others only see divisions.


To respond to this unprecedented time and to make and share art safely, Cerqua Rivera has completely restructured its 2020 season and announces a new slate of artistic projects.


Details and ticket links


2020 New Work:


Cerqua Rivera’s 2020 new work creatively responds to and utilizes social distancing. Work will be created on two casts, each including half the Dance Ensemble, and a chamber ensemble of the full Jazz Band.


  • AMERICAN CATRACHO and ROOT (updated excerpts) – The company is reimagining sections of these critically acclaimed audience favorites informed by the current times. AMERICAN CATRACHO Directed and Curated 2016-2019 by Wilfredo Rivera featuring choreography by Christian Denice and Noelle Kayser and music by Joe Cerqua; ROOT created 2018-2019 by Monique Haley and Joe Cerqua

  • IDENTITY CITY – Directed and Curated by Wilfredo Rivera, featuring choreography by Shannon Alvis, Katlin Bourgeois, A. Raheim White and music by Joe Cerqua – This new project examines evolving concepts and acceptance (or not) of gender identity (year one of a four-year process) – This year’s work focuses on feelings of isolation and metamorphosis

  • MOOD SWING – Artistic Director Wilfredo Rivera will lead four choreographers (Shannon Alvis, Katlin Bourgeois, Monique Haley, A. Raheim White) and composer Joe Cerqua in developing duets between musicians and dancers that respond to the current pandemic crisis and social justice movement

2020 REVISED Season Schedule

Including Cerqua Rivera’s innovative Inside/Out series and virtual concerts:


  • July 24 - Inside/Out with Identity City – 7 pm – virtual event with Studio5 Performing Arts Center

  • *DATE CHANGE* August 29 - Inside/Out with American Catracho and ROOT – 7 pm – virtual event with Studio5 Performing Arts Center

  • *EVENT CANCELLED* September 3 @ Old Town School of Folk Music

  • Fall Concert Series – featuring the 2020 new work in full production

    • *DATE CHANGE* October 25 - Livestreamed Benefit Performance honoring Sandra McNaughton, America/Americans – 7:30 pm

    • November 5, 6, 7 @ 7 pm & November 7 @ 2 pm – concert streamed online


For the safety of its community, Cerqua Rivera is suspending Company Classes for the remainder of 2020.


Cerqua Rivera Dance Theatre is committed to our mission and building on our 20 year history. Join us this year - however you can.


"There’s an art to being a dance company, and for twenty years, Cerqua Rivera has been reimagining the parameters of that art. From the beginning, cofounders Joe Cerqua and Wilfredo Rivera imagined a fundamentally different relationship between music and dance in concert, and over the company’s first two decades, they’ve steadily expanded their exploration of what that can be. But over the past few years, there’s been an increasing momentum to how all of that imagining gets put together. Their current company of dancers is extraordinary, and the Cerqua Rivera musicians have continuously expanded the horizons of what they can bring to an audience." - DancerMusic


Schedule subject to change. Follow Cerqua Rivera on Facebook and Instagram or check this site for the latest news.



2020 Company Roster


Dance Ensemble:

Shelby Moran Amarantos

Jesse Hoisington

Brennen Renteria

Fernando Rodriguez

Rachel Spies

Simone Stevens

Carson VonFeldt

 Performing Apprentices:

Josephine Castillo

Riley Cornacchini

Lucy Pierson

Ryan Schwaar  


Jazz Band, Chamber Ensemble:

Joe Cerqua

Rob Dicke

Stu Greenspan

Leandro Lopez Varady

Felipe Tobar

Juli Wood  


History and Administration


Wilfredo Rivera                                                               Catherine Painter

Artistic Director                                                               Executive Director                              

773-507-3415                                                                  601-675-2738


Cerqua Rivera Dance Theatre was founded in 1999 by Joe Cerqua, composer and musician; Wilfredo Rivera, choreographer and dancer; and Matt Lamb, painter. Over the years, programming grew from collaborations among the founders to include a collective of creative artists across the three disciplines (dance, music, visual art).  Its work is rooted in the founders’ vision of what art can do - gather people to contemplate factors that knit a community together and differences that add complexity to society.


Cerqua Rivera approaches each season with a selection of artistic concepts generated by Cofounder and Artistic Director Wilfredo Rivera in collaboration with talented choreographers recruited to make work on the company. Each choreographer is paired with a skilled composer to develop the concept and lead creation with the company’s Dance Ensemble and Jazz Band.


The company’s founding mission remains its focus: to fuse dance, music, and visual art to explore and celebrate contemporary society.


Cerqua Rivera’s annual season extends spring through fall, culminating in a concert series where the year’s new work debuts in full production, normally performed by the company’s full 8-member Dance Ensemble and 10-piece Jazz Band. In a regular year, Cerqua Rivera produces a monthly summer series called Inside/Out – new work preview performances and discussions where audiences get involved in the art and get to know the artists. The company also performs regularly in community and school settings, partnering with peer organizations and teaching young people about the many influences that have shaped dance in America.


All told, Cerqua Rivera engages nearly 10,000 people in a normal year.


Cerqua Rivera Dance Theatre can be found online at

on Facebook - Cerqua Rivera Dance Theatre                     on Instagram and Twitter @cerquarivera


Cerqua Rivera Dance Theatre is supported by Arts Work Fund – Arts for Illinois Emergency Relief Fund housed at The Chicago Community Trust, Weinberg Family Foundation, ETC, The MacArthur Funds for Arts and Culture at The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, Gaylord & Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, Farny R. Wurlitzer Foundation Fund from the DeKalb Community Foundation, Albany Bank & Trust Company NA, Microsoft, The Cliff Dwellers Arts Foundation, Chicago Dance Supply.


Cerqua Rivera Dance Theatre is partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency.


We are grateful to the Small Business Administration and our fellow Americans for relief funds through the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, Economic Injury Disaster Loan Advance Grant program, and Payroll Protection Program.

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