Joanna Furnans

“Sophistication”: A Discussion of Value, Genre, and Hierarchy


The Learning Lab

Join an open discussion about the idea of “sophistication” in how we value Chicago’s diverse dance communities.  


Artists, administrators, presenters, writers, audience members and performers in the Chicago Dance Community. All are welcome.

About the Piece

Someone recently said that only two dance companies in Chicago were making “sophisticated” work. Which leads me to ask: what are we referring to when we talk about “sophistication”? What does the performance of sophistication look like across and between dance genres? How does sophistication relate to value? Do artists, presenters, and audiences have similar interests in the production of sophistication? What is the relationship between sophistication and access? What is the relationship of sophistication to subculture? To sustainability? How do we watch and support dance without hierarchical eyes? And how do we coexist as a community with different artistic interests and values? Using Lois Weaver’s Long Table format, let’s bring these questions to the table with the hope of facilitating better understanding, support, and recognition of each other’s work.

About the Artist

Website: performanceresponsejournal.com

Social Media: @PRJChicago


The Performance Response Journal is an online collection of responses to dance and performance in Chicago. Joanna Furnans is a Chicago-based independent dance artist. Her current project, Doing Fine, is supported by a 2018 Chicago Dancemaker’s Forum lab artist award and a 2019 Schonberg Fellowship at the Yard. Previous works were supported by the Chicago Moving Company, the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE), Links Hall’s Co-MISSION Residency, and the Walker Art Center’s Choreographer’s Evening. Furnans is a sometimes-writer for the Chicago dance community. She co-founded the Performance Response Journal and has been a contributing dance writer for the Windy City Times, Art Intercepts, and See Chicago Dance.