Vershawn Sanders-Ward / Red Clay Dance Company


About Rest.Rise.Move.Nourish.Heal

Rest. Rise.Move.Nourish.Heal is site-responsive dance ritual created by Founder and Artistic Director Vershawn Sanders-Ward in collaboration with composer/music director avery r. young, filmmaker Jovan Landry, and Kelley KFLEYE Moseley and Evelyn Danner.

This new work was developed in relation to the urban farm, ART ON THE FARM in GRANT PARK, a space stewarded and visually designed by Erika Allen and Urban Growers Collective.

Sanders-Ward visions this work as “a practice, a process, an uncovering of the beautiful labor of bringing us ALL home to land, reclaiming ancestral cultural traditions, technologies, and tools that can lead to individual and collective healing.”

We invite you to witness this righteous journey!

Neighborhood: Downtown - Art on the Farm, Grant Park

Art Type: Dance

Grant Amount: $30,000

Media Gallery

Click on each image to enlarge and to see the photo caption.

About the Artists

Vershawn Sanders-Ward, (she/her/hers) is the Founding Artistic Director and CEO of Red Clay Dance Company and is currently a candidate for Dunham Technique Certification. She holds an MFA in Dance from New York University and is the first recipient of BFA in Dance from Columbia College Chicago (Gates Millennium Scholar.). Sanders-Ward is a 2022 Dance/USA Artist Fellow, 2019 Chicago Dancemakers Forum Awardee, a 2019 Harvard Business School Club of Chicago Scholar, a 2017 Dance/USA Leadership Fellow, a 2013 3Arts awardee, and a 2009 Choreography Award from Harlem Stage NYC. In 2015, 2018 and 2020, NewCity Magazine selected Ward as one of the “Players 50, People Who Really Perform for Chicago” and in 2023 was inducted in the NewCity’s “Hall of Fame”.

Her choreography has been presented in Chicago, New York, San Francisco, The Yard at Martha’s Vineyard, and internationally in Toronto, Dakar and Kampala. Vershawn is currently on faculty at Loyola University Chicago in the Fine and Performing Arts Department and has received choreographic commissions from Columbia College Chicago, Northwestern University, Knox College, AS220, and the National Theatre in Uganda. Her upcoming site-inspired choreographic project, Rest.Rise.Move.Nourish.Heal which is set to premiere June 2023 was selected for a 2021 National Dance Project Award from NEFA with additional support from the NEA.

As an arts advocate, she serves on the Board of Trustees for Dance/USA as well as the Board of Directors for the African American Arts Alliance of Chicago. Vershawn was selected to attend the inaugural Obama Foundation Summit for Emerging Global Leaders and has had the pleasure of gracing the cover of the Chicago Reader and DEMO, Columbia College Chicago’s Alumni Magazine.

Founded in Brooklyn, NY in July 2008 and now based in Chicago, IL, Red Clay Dance Company is the brainchild of Vershawn Sanders-Ward, the institutions’ Founding Artistic Director & CEO. Red Clay Dance Company is Chicago’s premier Afro-contemporary dance company, voted Best Dance Organization by the Chicago Reader in 2019 and selected as Best Dance Company in 2020 by the African American Arts Alliance of Chicago. The touring company is a versatile and dynamic ensemble of dance Artivist that tours and performs locally, nationally and internationally the choreographic work of its founder. The company has produced 13 concerts for it’s beloved hometown of Chicago and performed in venues like the Dance Center of Columbia College, the DuSable Museum Roundhouse, the Museum of Contemporary Art, ODC Theater, Dance Mission Theater, The Painted Bride, Joyce Soho, and the National Theater of Uganda.

Community Partner

Urban Growers Collective is a Black- and women-led non-profit farm in Chicago, Illinois working to build a more just and equitable local food system. They aim to address the inequities and structural racism that exist in the food system and in communities of color.

Rooted in growing food, their mission is to cultivate nourishing environments which support health, economic development, healing, and creativity through urban agriculture.

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