“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 founding mission remains its focus: to fuse dance, music, and visual art to explore and celebrate contemporary society.


Cerqua Rivera’s season extends spring through fall, culminating in a concert series where the year’s new work debuts in full production performed by the company’s 8-member Dance Ensemble and 10-piece Jazz Band. Cerqua Rivera normally produces an innovative monthly summer series called Inside/Out – new work preview performances and discussions– and performs in festivals and schools plus other venues across Chicagoland, reaching nearly 10,000 people in a regular year.

In 2020, Cerqua Rivera Dance Theatre builds on the momentum from last year’s 20th Anniversary - just differently than we'd planned. In keeping with social isolation orders, we immediately suspended rehearsals and programming mid-March. With the revised Illinois Stay at Home order currently extending through May, we have revised our schedule with the best interests of our artists and audiences as our guiding principles.

Schedule subject to change. Follow Cerqua Rivera on Facebook and Instagram for the latest news as well as announcements about appearances in schools, festivals, and other venues across Chicagoland.


Details and ticket links https://www.cerquarivera.org/schedule


New Work – Cerqua Rivera Dance Theatre launches its 26th year with two brand-new projects. We will develop these projects in the shortened season and return to them in 2021. We have postponed SOUL REMEDY by Monique Haley and Pharez Whitted to 2021.


  • COMPLICATING INCIDENTS, by Hubbard Street Dance Chicago alumna Alice Klock and Grammy-nominated Brazilian composer Clarice Assad (her third collaboration with Cerqua Rivera), exploring family love and responsibility in tension with circumstances that shape our identity


  • IDENTITY CITY, by cofounders Wilfredo Rivera and Joe Cerqua, examining evolving concepts and acceptance (or not) of gender identity (year one of a four-year process)​, featuring collaborators Shannon Alvis, Katlin Bourgeois, Raheim White

2020 Revised Season Schedule - Including Cerqua Rivera’s innovative Inside/Out series and new partner Intrigue Dance and Performing Arts Center near Chinatown:

  • July 23 – Inside/Out with Identity City – 7 pm @ Studio5 Performing Arts Center - ONLINE (details to follow)

  • August 6 – Inside/Out with Complicating Incidents – 7 pm @ Intrigue Dance & Performing Arts Center

  • September 3 – New Work Showcase – 7 pm @ Old Town School of Folk Music

  • October 9 & 10 – America/Americans, the fall concert series – 8 pm @ Studio5 Performing Arts Center

  • October 24 – Benefit Performance honoring Sandra McNaughton, America/Americans – 7:30 pm @ Reva & David Logan Center for the Arts

** Please note, we anticipate possibly limiting ticket availability for live events this fall. We await guidance from health officials and industry leaders. We may also incorporate online access. Subscribe to our email list (scroll to bottom) to get all the updates. 


To comply with social distancing guidelines and minimize crowding when we return to rehearsal, we are suspending Company Classes for the remainder of 2020.


We're 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



2020 Company Roster


Dance Ensemble:

Shelby Moran Amarantos

Jesse Hoisington

Brennen Renteria

Fernando Rodriguez

Rachel Spies

Simone Stevens

Kristen Vasilakos 

Carson VonFeldt

Performing Apprentices:

Josephine Castillo

Riley Cornacchini

Lucy Pierson

Ryan Schwaar 


Jazz Band:

Timothy Archbold

Joe Cerqua

Paul Cotton

Rob Dicke

Stu Greenspan

Dan Hesler

Leandro Lopez Varady

Felipe Tobar

Pharez Whitted

Juli Wood



History and Administration


Wilfredo Rivera                                                               Catherine Painter

Artistic Director                                                              Executive Director

wilfredo@cerquarivera.org                                       catherine@cerquarivera.org

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 annual season extends spring through fall. They produce a monthly series called Inside/Out – new work preview performances and discussions where audiences get involved in the art and get to know our artists. They also perform in community and school settings. The season culminates in a fall concert series where the year’s new work debuts in full production, performed by the complete Dance Ensemble and Jazz Band. All told, Cerqua Rivera engages nearly 10,000 people per year.


Cerqua Rivera Dance Theatre can be found online at www.cerquarivera.org

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


Cerqua Rivera Dance Theatre is supported by Weinberg Family Foundation, Farny R. Wurlitzer Foundation Fund from the DeKalb Community Foundation, The Joyce Foundation, ETC, The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, MacArthur Foundation, ComEd, League of Chicago Theatres Foundation, Arts Work Fund, Gaylord & Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, Albany Bank & Trust Company NA, The Cliff Dwellers Arts Foundation. Cerqua Rivera is partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency

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