Yolanda Cesta Cursach is an Independent Curator of contemporary theater, dance and music and has earned recognition for her leadership and insight during her recent tenures as Curator of Performance at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and service as panelist and advisor for various agencies.
Joining the MCA in 1997, until 2018 she defined the artistic direction and line production of MCA Stage, using the museum’s 300-seat state of the art theater for the support of touring and local artists and commissions of creative residencies. Her tenure was defined by a close work with artists at every stage of investigation, creation and presentation, initiating partnerships with numerous organizations, and cultivating a collaborative environment within and across institutions. She is credited by colleagues with expanding the MCA as a shared resource for Chicago and elevating its national and international profile as a leading center for the performing arts.
Her work is constitutionally defined by a sustained interest in thediversity of cultural practices in the US and abroad and commitment to equity.She is a nationally recognized knowledge leader about theater and dance artists in Ibero-Latin America, Northern and Southern Europe, and North and Central Africa. For ten years she served as Chair of Programming and Structure of the Chicago Bodies of Work International Festival of Disability Arts and Culture.
Her curatorial objective is to support artists whose independent approaches promote a multiplicity of viewpoints about society, art as a motor for social change, ways of collaboration, and the inseparable relationship within community and the world. She is a strong proponent for artists who are testing their practice and going in new directions while drawing on the specificity of particular historical, social and cultural realities.
In her leadership role she focuses on policy and development of international artist exchanges; inclusive programming; commissioned residencies; and national touring by international artists and artists with disabilities. She leads efforts as part of several independent and formal networks of US and International presenters to support artists’ practices and build communities with artists that involve and include expanding populations of today’s urban experience.
Prior to joining MCA, she led Redmoon Theater as its first Managing Director, created the Producing Manager position for Performing Arts Chicago, was Producing Manager for three annual City of Chicago Holiday Parades on Michigan Avenue, and was on the Programming staff of the International Theater Festival of Chicago.
She is a Facilitator for Forward Dialogues, a program for emerging artists at the Maggie Allesee National Center for Choreography (2017-2019); U.S. Curator and Tour Producer for Southern Exposure: Performing Arts of Latin America Program of the National Endowment for the Arts (2016-2020). Other notable service: Panelist, National Endowment for the Arts, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Creative Capital, MAP Fund, USArtists International, and CalArts Herb Alpert Award for the Arts; Consortium member, Chicago Dancemakers Forum (2003-current);Board, 6018NORTH (2010-current); Judge of Election Cook County (2000-current); volunteer, US State Department International Visitor Leadership Program.
She is anative of Rome, Italy and was reared in Madrid, Spain. She has a B.A. Summa Cum Laude from Syracuse University in Political Science and Romance Languages with honors by Phi Sigma Iota National Foreign Language Society,and completed M.A. studies at The University of Chicago in Political Science.
SELECTION OF AWARDS/RECOGNITION
Association of Performing Arts Professionals-APAP: Planning Committee, 2018-2019
New City Magazine: Named “Players 2017: The Fifty People Who Really Perform for Chicago”, 2017
Trust For Mutual Understanding Delegate, Budapest, Hungary, 2017
Steering Committee, appointed by Chicago Cultural Accessibility Consortium (CCAC), 2014-2017
Hub Site, National Dance Project, appointed by the New England Foundation for the Arts, 2012-2015
Chair, International Programs, and Partner-elected Board Member, National Performance Network, 2009-2015
Paul Harris Fellow, Rotary International, Lifetime Award for Humanitarian Work, 2006