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My name is Ellyzabeth Adler.

I am a choreographer, cook, creative, director, executive director, filmmaker, former ballet dancer, founder, poet, reader, short story writer, teacher, and yogi. I was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA. I live in Chicago, Illinois, USA. You can also find me here. I’ve told 7 stories. I joined Cowbird on February 12, 2012.

"Artists create from a place of vulnerability, sometimes going against the grain. We need to find our artistic voice and follow our passion to inspire positive change in the world. "

Ellyzabeth Adler founded Chicago Danztheatre Ensemble in 2001, creating a resource for performers whose interests extend beyond their primary artistic discipline. Ellyzabeth hoped to foster a sense of true artistic collaboration, drawing on the many artistic media to create multi-sensory dance theatre performances that would inspire audiences to engage in making positive changes in the world.

Believing in bringing quality arts education to children, she later created opportunities for artists to work as teachers and visiting artists in Chicagoland schools and community centers, specifically focusing on areas that do not have other arts programs available. Ellyzabeth developed a multidisciplinary approach to teaching children literacy, social emotional learning, and the artistic process; believing that early cultivation of the imagination and critical thinking skills would initiate a life-long quest for learning, curiosity and social and civic engagement.

Ellyzabeth’s first love has always been ballet and her ultimate focus on becoming an interdisciplinary artist grew out of her childhood curiosity for the arts. She received the majority of her training at ‘The William Reilly Academy of Ballet’ from Mr. Reilly and Sheila Reilly (the Marquette University Dance Chair & the Director of the Interlochen Center for Arts) as well as Van Collins. (Jazz and Contemporary Dance). She also attended the Milwaukee Ballet School. At 15, she started performing in the Milwaukee area. Some of her performance highlights of this time include the city’s celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday at the Performing Arts Center (PAC); the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee; the Milwaukee Ballet; the Elmbrook Arts Center and with many small theatre and dance companies.

In addition to dance, Ellyzabeth studied classical piano and visual art. She also found an early passion for civic engagement by helping her parents fight for the ADA and Veterans with Disabilities Act. Her inquisitive nature led her to a year-long high school internship at radio station WKKV-103, where she had the opportunity to learn about broadcast journalism, on-air hosting and special events planning. After high school, she apprenticed with the Springfield Ballet Company for a year before returning to her academic pursuits.

From 1994 -1997, Ellyzabeth attended Roosevelt University on a full academic scholarship, where she earned dual bachelor’s degrees in Performing Arts and Broadcast Journalism. Her performing arts degree led her to study poetry, acting, physical theatre, costume design, dance and voice as well as a specially arranged year-long course study of Script Analysis of Shakespeare’s plays with department head, Yolanda Lyon Miller. Through her Broadcast Journalism studies, she had the opportunity to create and produce an hour-long radio show in which she interviewed Markus Pierson, the visual artist who sued RJ Reynolds for copyright infringement, claiming that “Joe Camel” was based on his Coyote Series and his work with the American Cancer Society.

Ellyzabeth continued her academic education on a full scholarship at the University of Illinois at Chicago, 1997-2000, earning a Masters of Arts in Directing and Movement. At UIC, she was inspired studying danztheatre artists and theorists Rudolph Laban, Pina Bausch and Martha Clark and physical theatre director, Ann Bogart (SITI Company.) Through this inspiration, she found an art form to combine her love of the arts into original performance work that could engage audiences on a multi-sensory level.

After finishing academic classes at UIC, Ellyzabeth moved to San Diego, where she performed with Isaacs/McCaleb & Dancers. While in San Diego, she ran the Children’s Performing Arts Camp for the Lawrence Family JCC in La Jolla. She returned to Chicago in 1999 to defend her thesis, which,based on Brian Kirst’s Perished, outlined her techniques for creating kinesthetic theatre to provoke emotional awareness. Ellyzabeth has since gone on to use her thesis as a stepping stone to develop a curriculum for children with Autism to help them to understand emotion and physical responses. This curriculum was implemented at LEEP clinic and she has taught it at schools within Chicago.

Before founding CDE, Ellyzabeth’s choreography was performed in several festivals and concerts in Chicago, including Motivity: A Choreographer’s Festival, Duets for My Valentine, Vaudeville Underground and Women's Performing Arts Festival.

At the age of 26, Ellyzabeth founded Chicago Danztheatre Ensemble and work-shopped a critically lauded performance of T.S Eliot’s The Wasteland. That same year, she was accepted into ‘Moving Arts’, (Cologne, Germany) a summer intensive workshop led by Guy Dartnell. She spent the next several months traveling Europe and studying at various dance and theatre workshops.

In 2002, she developed the outreach component of the company, ‘Kids Project’, which she continues to teach and manage. To date, Ellyzabeth has collaboratively adapted, directed and choreographed seven full-length works: T.S Eliot’s Death Dream Kingdom, The Wasteland, Ever your own, Edgar, The Yellow Wallpaper, Chicago Stories, This Is Not A Pipe, and Mirrors. She has also created over a dozen concert-length works around women’s issues, the body, suicide, pathways to enlightenment and the human condition. In 2008, she was commissioned by the United Congress of Community and Religious Organizations - working with international painter Florent Mouttii - to create a performance based on his images of immigrants to France in response to the country’s race riots. The piece was performed at their annual conference.

In 2009, Ellyzabeth spent a month teaching in Bangalore, India. She taught dance, art, and literacy at The Balle Mane (“Girls Home”) at Gopalapura, a home for about 60 girls between the ages of 6 and 18 years old.

Ellyzabeth has directed for Equity Library Theatre, Puddin’ Head Books, Collage Productions, and the Eclipse Theatre. She worked with The Chicago International Children’s Film Festival for nine years as a Media Educator, Film Print Coordinator and Special Events Planner. She also served as a Teaching Artist at ProsArts Studio as and Poetry Pals, where she taught interfaith dialogue between Jewish, Christian and Muslim children.

Ellyzabeth has taught performance, development workshops, and given lectures at the Women’s Theatre Alliance, Making the Most of Out-of-School Time (MOST), the Chicago Teaching Artist Collective and Theatre In the School-Chicago Chapter.

Ellyzabeth’s quest for knowledge continues to this day. She is currently studying mediation with Vietnam’s Buddhist Monks, Thích Nh?t Hn?h and Jerrahi Sufi Order. She still loves ballet, smiling and makes a fabulous inside/outside double chocolate cinnamon berry filled cake that should be eaten as a main course.

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