"Either CDF is particularly adept at knowing which choreographers are poised on the cusp of breakthrough, or the award itself provides the fuel for its winners to jet toward thrilling creations. Regardless of which is the case—most likely both—CDF Lab Artists account for many of the most exciting and memorable performances of the last five years."

Zachary Whittenburg, Time Out Chicago

The Chicago Dancemakers Forum (CDF) is a catalyst for innovation and a means to increase dynamic interaction among Chicago’s dancemakers. Launched in 2003, CDF was created in response to the dearth of funding for artistic research and development. By focusing on the creative process, the program is designed to cultivate artistic exploration and growth. Additional support is provided to CDF grantees through round table discussion and work-in-progress showings. 


CDF awards are competitive, annual grants given to four choreographers each year todevelop significant new work. The impact of these grants continues well beyond the year of the award. With both the process and product influencing future work, CDF grants lead to the formation and growth of companies and ensembles, and provide framework to build and enrich citywide collaboration. From the moment an idea strikes, through research and development, refinement and performance, CDF provides artists with time and space for creativity and a platform for performance and engagement. 


CDF is led by a consortium comprised of two independent dance artists, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Links Hall, The Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago, the University of Illinois at Chicago, the city of Chicago's Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, and Hubbard Street Dance.


The Lab Artists Program awards grants of up to $15,000 and provides professional support to leading dance artists in their research and development of new choreographic directions and production of new work. CDF awards emphasize exploration and artistic growth through the creative process. Grantees are active in their field, are expected to demonstrate the skills and experience necessary to undertake projects of extended scale, and show the capacity to benefit from an environment of artistic interchange.


To date, CDF has awarded $500,000 in grants, making a substantial impact on Chicago’s diverse dance community.