Hubbard Street Dance alumna Linda-Denise Fisher-Harrell returns as company's new artistic director

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Linda-Denise Fisher-Harrell began her professional dance career with Hubbard Street Dance Chicago almost 30 years ago, and has now returned as their new artistic director.

"As a dancer, as a little girl from Baltimore who just wanted to grow up and be in a Michael Jackson video, to have the ability to say that I'm leading a dance company is insane!" she said.

But it's not as far-fetched as she'd have you believe. After leaving Chicago, Fisher-Harrell joined the famed Alvin Ailey Dance Theater in New York City. There she was a principle dancer and protégé of the legendary Judith Jamison.

"Such a huge, statuesque figure anyway. That was my boss. I got the chance to work with her on a daily basis," Fisher-Harrell recalled.

After retiring from dancing, she utilized those lessons as the director of the Ailey Camp in Baltimore, and as professor of dance at Towson University. She returns now to Chicago at a challenging time for Hubbard Street Dance.

"We had our school close down, that was difficult. We sold our building," she said. "But COVID has been a time of reflection. An opportunity for us to look back at things and say, 'OK, in a perfect world, how would we do things differently?'"

As one of a handful of Black female directors of an international dance company, Fisher-Harrell has a mission.

"We want to be at the top of the contemporary dance field. We always want to be innovating. We always want to be pushing boundaries, but also including al the contemporary dance voices," she said.

What will she do first?

"Just move!" Fisher-Harrell said. "For me, I just need to pack up my stuff and get my family acclimated and all those things. Imagine what's going to happen when we are able to get into the studio and onto the stage. I say, 'Watch out!'"

Fisher-Harrell said she's been returning to Chicago each summer for Hubbard Street dance workshops. She officially begins her new position as the company's artistic director on March 1.
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