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Jenai Cutcher, tap dance, red shirt, william frederking

Jenai Cutcher was the founding Executive and Artistic Director of the Chicago Dance History Project from 2015 to mid-2023. Under her leadership, CDHP has interviewed 177 individuals, produced 37 public events, and digitized over 8 terabytes of archival material including programs, photographs, and performance footage from the past seven decades.


Cutcher’s creative practice includes dancing, choreographing, teaching, and researching histories of dance to present in a variety of media. She has performed nationally and internationally with tap dance artists such as
Brenda Bufalino, Michelle Dorrance, Barbara Duffy, John Giffin, Savion Glover, Derick Grant, Katherine Kramer, Max Pollak, and Lynn Schwab and her own choreography has been presented throughout the country.


Jenai has written articles for several dance publications including Dance magazine and The Village Voice, papers for presentation, three dance books for children, and Columbus Moves: A Brief History of Contemporary Dance. Her feature-length documentary, Thinking On Their Feet: Women of the Tap Renaissance, explores the work of the women who resurrected and revolutionized the art of American tap dance and continue to pioneer the field.


Cutcher is the 2019 recipient of Chicago’s esteemed Ruth Page Award. She has a BA in English and MFA in Dance, both from The Ohio State University.


Sometimes she brings her tap shoes to her CDHP interviews.

Jenai Cutcher
 Founding Executive & Artistic Director


Sean Rafferty
Digital Media Production Manager

In addition to editing video for CDHP, Sean Rafferty films and edits videos for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Midwest Event Solutions. He has produced videos for arts organizations including the Brevard Music Center, Winifred Haun & Dancers, Chicago Metamorphosis Orchestra Project, and South Chicago Dance Theatre. In his free time, he enjoys taking in as much wonderful Chicago performing art as he can and relaxing at home with his wife, dancer Mandy Milligan, and his two cats, Berlioz and Cleo.

Board of Directors

Cheryl Cornell, Patti Eylar,

Kim Grigsby, Gail Kalver, Audrey Peiper, Judie Green, Michael Anderson

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