Rachel Damon (b. 1981, St.Paul, Minnesota) is a Chicago-based theatrical designer, choreographer, and performer whose
self-made career bridges onstage and backstage. She uses her multidisciplinary skills to spearhead performance works
created through collaboration, improvisation, and teamwork; inviting audiences into environments where emotion and
vulnerability are freely expressed, new models of individual agency are explored, and human life is viewed as a creative
Damon's artistic voice has evolved through works created under the aegis of Synapse Arts, for which she has served as
co-founder and Artistic Director since 2004. Recent pieces include Factor Ricochet
, a 2011 experiment in breaking down
hardened gender identities, danced by a diverse quartet of improvising dancers with a set of movable walls; Without
, a 2012 collaboration with Chicago drummer and composer Frank Rosaly and four dancers, in which the artists
explore their animalism with water in large tubs; Swath
, a 2013 piece with hand-drawn projections by Manual Cinema's
Julia Miller, depicting rural lifestyles in which culture and nature interact in sometimes brutal ways; and 2016's
for an all-female cast, which uses needlework as a source of movement invention, and features a massive textile
installation within the performance space, and explores cultural constructions of femininity.
Her many honors include awards from The Chicago Dancemakers Forum, The Illinois Arts Council, 3Arts, The Chicago
Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, Experimental Sound Studio's CROSSCUT program, and residencies with
the Ragdale Foundation, the Morrison Shearer Foundation, and the Chicago Cultural Center. Immersed in theater, dance,
music, and visual arts classes and productions as a child, Damon attended the Minnesota state arts magnet high school,
The Perpich Center for Arts Education, graduating as a Dance Major in 1999. She later earned a BA in Theatrical Design
with a Minor in Dance from Columbia College Chicago in 2005; as a senior she received an Alfred P. Weisman Award, a gift
that supports creative endeavors by the College's students.
As an arts educator, Damon has worked with high school, college, and professional performers to develop their dance and
interdisciplinary techniques. She has held guest artist positions at Dance Theater New Trier (Winnetka, IL), The Perpich
Center for Arts Education (Golden Valley, MN), Knox College (Galesburg, IL), and The School of the Art Institute of
Chicago. She served as a teaching artist with the ensemble Chicago Moving Company from 2005 – 2010 and is currently an
adjunct faculty member at The Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago.
In addition, Damon's production and design work has appeared in world-renowned venues such as the Melbourne Symphony
Orchestra (Australia), The Fine Arts Center (Mexico City), The University of Texas at Austin; and in Chicago at The
NeoFuturarium, The Goodman Theater, and The Museum of Contemporary Art. She served in various technical and
administrative positions at the alternative Chicago venue Links Hall from 2004 to 2014 and as the Production Stage
Manager and Lighting Director for Grammy-winning ensemble Eighth Blackbird from 2009 to 2015. She is currently a Stage
Manager at Blue Man Group Chicago.
Rachel loves to knit while watching action movies, and she eats dessert every day.
Ensemble and Teachers
Teaching Artist, Movement Coach
Kristina Fluty is a movement
artist/educator/consultant who has been dancing and teaching all around Chicago since 2002. Her primary
creative/performance home has been Molly Shanahan/Mad Shak since 2003, and she is also happy to present her own work at
Links Hall, Hamlin Park, Epiphany Church, Stage 773, and many festivals and collaborations with other choreographers.
Kristina is full-time at The Theatre School at DePaul University, and also teaches dance at Lou Conte Dance Studio and
Dovetail Studios, among other locations and companies. Check out
for more info on Kristina's
background and consulting endeavors.
Elisa Foshay loves dancing, making dances and helping other people to dance. A longtime
Synapse collaborator, you can currently find Elisa teaching dance for Chicago Public Schools and other folks, raising
her daughter and trying to find more time for herself. She holds a BA in Dance from Columbia College Chicago and a MFA
in Choreography and K-12 teaching license from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
Katie Matteson Campana
Teaching Artist, Performer
Katie currently dances joyously with Synapse Arts, Emily Stein, and DanszLoop Chicago. This modern ballerina teaches
dance at The Ruth Page School of Dance as well as through Synapse's arts partnership with Loyola Park. She also gets to
teach the fanciest jazz squares around in a few Chicago Public Schools, setting pieces for Drama and Musical Theatre.
When not busting moves, Katie likes to bust more moves, listen to good music, and practice making fancy cocktails.
Laura Tennal is a Native of Little Rock, AR and holds a BFA in Theatre Arts- Dance Performance from Northern Illinois
University. She has been dancing with Synapse Arts since moving to Chicago in 2005, and after a brief hiatus from dance
she is beyond thrilled to have the opportunity to continue doing so. Laura has also recently discovered a love for
teaching children and is excited about the possibilities that holds.
A native of Chattanooga, TN, Gretchen holds a BFA in Dance from Columbia College Chicago. She is in her 5th season with
Synapse Arts, and has performed throughout the Chicagoland area in such venues as the Chicago Home Theater Festival,
Thaw, Produce, Dance for 9.99, Harvest Contemporary Dance Festival, and in Philip Elson's 2014 Terms and Conditions at
Links Hall. She is the joint recipient of a Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events Individual Artist Program
Grant in her work with the Dancers Cooperative, a new collaboration that seeks to challenge the current and ongoing
struggle for sustainability in dance and the performing arts. When not dancing or coercing her cat into loving her,
Gretchen is working towards earning a Pilates certification under the apprenticeship of Kinetic Axis Studio.
Teaching Artist, Performer
Megan Rhyme is a dancer, choreographer, and teaching artist based in Chicago. She has performed as
a contemporary dancer with Chicago artists such as Synapse Arts, Salty Lark Dance, Renegade Dance Architects, Nicole
Gifford Dance, Janet Schmid, 3 card molly, and Jonathan Meyer. Her choreography has been produced by The Chicago Fringe
Festival, The Field Chicago and Links Hall. She has worked with notable art integration programs such as Chicago Arts
Partnerships in Education, the Auditorium Theater's ArtsXChange, and Dancing With Class, Inc.
Megan Szajna is currently a sophomore at Columbia College Chicago planning to graduate with honors
in May of 2019 with a BA in Dance and a BA in Advanced Management. She has had the opportunity to
study dance improvisation, ballet, West African, modern, and other dance forms under Darrell Jones,
Jeffrey Hancock, Meghann Wilkinson, Margi Cole, and more. Megan has performed in works on Columbia's Dance
Center stage choreographed by faculty members Keesha Beckford, Allen Desterhaft, and Rachel Damon,
and has been selected for various student choreographed works. She has also performed at the Auditorium
Theater alongside Cerqua Rivera Dance Theater as a part of Columbia College's Open House. She is excited
to become more involved in the Chicago dance community through performing, teaching, and collaboration!
Board of Directors
Margaret Reynolds– Chairperson
Proprietor, Dizzy Cow Candy and Curiosity Shop
Retired Owner, Belle Plaine Studio
Megan Zegler – Treasurer
Administration Manager, Cancer Research Foundation
Katherine Dreher – Secretary
Director of Development and Marketing, Bright Promises Foundation
Director, Strategic Philanthropy
Director, Erica Mott Productions
Owner, Lumen Siccum Productions
Michelle Burger-Modrzejewski – performer, choreographer
Asimina Chremos – consultant
JulieAnn Graham – performer
Matthew Griffo – composer, graphic designer
Matthew Gregory Hollis – photographer
Christopher Knowlton – performer, choreographer
Sarah Lackner – lighting designer
Chih-Hsien/Joan Lin – performer
Matthew McMunn – performer
Chrissy Martin – choreographer
Julia Miller – visuals designer
Dan Mohr – graphic designer, co-curator
Adam Rose – webmaster
Grant Sabin – scenic design
Brian Shaw – consultant
Sammy Spriggs – performer, choreographer
Jessi Taylor – costume designer
Rustel Weiss – sound designer
Vienna Willems – performer
Photo by William Frederking