Project Tool

67 3Arts supporters
$5,486 raised of $5,000 goal
0 Days 0:00:00 LEFT
Funded on May 12, 2017
    • 110% contributed

Project Tool is a dance performance installation in which I will build a collection of sprung wood dance floors. What is learned physically, emotionally, and conceptually in the process of building will become the material that is used to craft the performance. This project stems from my fascination with the inter-relationships between body, task, and tool. In collaboration with designer Steve Silber, I will build a number of hexagonal sprung wood floors that can be arranged and configured in numerous ways to transform many different types of spaces into places where performance (dance performance, particularly) can happen. The act of building this floor will explore the use of tools as if they are partners in a dance with the body. With this project, I’m interested in crafting a live performance that is meaningful to watch, think, and talk about while also leaving behind a physical artifact, a resource that can be used by dancers and dance presenters all over the city. This project will also carry on through my body and the bodies of other dancers who participate through the skills and know-how to make the floors upon which we dance and the opportunity to channel that practicality into our artistic practices.

About This Project

I come from a long line of farmers and carpenters on both sides of my family, one from rural Northwestern Ohio and the other from rural Southeastern Nigeria, West Africa. I worked in my grandmother's garden in the Midwest with long-handled hoes, rhythmically changing which hand was on top and which hip spiraled to the front as I found the circular flow that broke ground. In Nigeria, I worked in a low crouched position with short-handled hoes, my torso forward with the weight of the instrument hanging from the easy swing in my shoulders, the engine of the blade emanating from my hips rocking, and my feet sliding 1-2, 1-2. I would later revisit those stances and efficiencies of technique in my ballet classes and in my West African dance classes, respectively. 

As a choreographer and dancer, I have studied and used the dances of many different cultures in my work. And I have been curious about the purposes, the effect of dancing, and its relationship to other things. The link between the movements that our ancestors practiced with the tools they used to survive and the types of movements that they used to craft their dances is clear. Yet, what about us today? As the evolution of digital technology begins to leap and bound, I believe reclaiming our hereditary relationship between body, mind, and tool is especially important. Our brain, so wired by and to movement, is still genetically oriented toward actions with tools that engage our bodies in very physical ways, beyond our thumbs interacting with a tiny computer screen. Project Tool offers a somatic excavation of this concept by isolating and identifying the actions, techniques, aesthetics, and capacities of the body involved in the act of building and working with tools. It also offers my collaborators and me, in this time of insecurity regarding the future of the arts, an opportunity to claim our right to be artists who contribute to society through our work. Project Tool offers us the opportunity to stand strong in the embodied fact that we can literally build our own platforms. 

Project Tool’s creative process will yield the following products:

(1) The performance: I and two other dancer/builder/performers will engage in the act of building. The building will become stylized over time through improvisation, projected images, original sound compositions, spoken dialogue, and text. The performance will begin with the “building of” these floors and evolve over the course of 6-9 months into “performing on” these floors. From time to time, we will host guest dancers and companies. Their participation will include an invitation to have their names carved into the bottom of the floors, granting them access to borrow the floors freely in the future.

(2) The floors: a collection of modular sprung wood dance floors, archived at the Rebuild Foundation in Hyde Park, will be available to be borrowed for use by dancers and choreographers throughout the city of Chicago.

As a backer of this project, you will be pivotal in helping us create the modular dance floor. This includes the physical materials (such as the wood and hardware to assemble), the equipment (tools), and the personnel (Steve Silber, Fabrication and Floor Designer, who will design our prototypes and train the core movement practitioners, and Bryan Saner, Wood Milling Consultant, who will train and advise lumber milling process). Your support directly finances the critical components needed to construct the floors, the object that will continue to give back to and sustain the performance of dance in our city for long after this performance is complete. 

Thank yous

Contribute any amount or choose from the levels below.

  • $25
    Personal thank you on social media ($25.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $50
    Above plus a handwritten love letter via email and your name listed on the project’s website ($50.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $100
    All of the above, plus a wood floor plank named in your honor ($100.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $250
    All of the above, plus an invitation to a guided workshop to experience the inter-relationships between body, task, and tool led by Onye Ozuzu ($150.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $500
    All of the above, plus equity in the floor. Join the ranks of artists eligible to access this portable dance floor in the future. Detailed rental agreements and accessibility terms to be determined ($400.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $1000
    A floor named in your honor. Support the fabrication of one modular dance floor, a hexagon spanning 8 feet across ($1000.00 is tax deductible.)

Onye Ozuzu

Onye Ozuzu is a dance administrator, performing artist, choreographer, educator, and researcher currently serving as Dean of the School of Fine and Performing Arts at Columbia College Chicago. Physically and choreographically, she has focused on the body as technology and …

View Onye Ozuzu's profile
  • Update 1: 3Arts Match Earned!
    Posted on April 10, 2017


    3Arts has added their pledged match to Project Tool’s funding campaign, bringing us to 68% funded. Thank you all for your donations that have brought us to this point.

    However, this is an “all or nothing” campaign. We will not get any of the pledged funds until we reach our funding goal. If you have a moment, please spread the word about this project. There are so many dancers and artists who will be impacted by the availability of these floors. Let’s encourage all of Chicago to get involved in Project Tool.

    Update 2: We Did It!!! We met our Goal!
    Posted on May 06, 2017


    A gigantic thank you to this amazing community of people who contributed to Project Tool. We reached our goal of $5,000! And we still have a week left to raise the bar a little higher. Can we reach $6,000 by May 12?

    Additional support would fund:

    • More performances with the project team in different sites around Chicago
    • Travel to bring experts in different fields to intersect with the project
    • Performance elements, such as costumes, video projections, and visual designs 
    • And more modular floors that will link together to form one large performance space (one floor costs approximately $800 to fabricate)

    As a community, I know we can do this. Please spread the word about the project to your friends and network.

    And THANK YOU all for your donations!

    Update 3: Project Tool at the Chicago Cultural Center
    Posted on January 29, 2018


    After over a year of incubating and building, the Project Tool team will reveal the collection of sprung wood dance floors and the accompanying performance. The Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events will present Project Tool at the Chicago Cultural Center. Two free performances will be held February 2nd and 3rd at 7pm in the Garland Gallery.

    Project Tool is a dance performance in which the creative team and I have been exploring, through the process of using hand held tools and legacy processes, the relationship between mind, body and tool. Artist Steve Silber designed the hexagonal modular floors that can be arranged and configured in numerous ways to transform many different types of spaces into places where performance (dance performance, particularly) can happen. Dancer-builders include Keyierra Collins, Keisha Bennett, Jessica Marasa, and Anna Martine Whitehead. Additional collaborators include Sound Design by Damon Locks, Visual Design by Petra Probstner, Videography and Projection Design by Jovan Landry, and Wood and Fabrication Consultation by Bryan Saner.

    The installation of Project Tool at the Cultural Center will be from January 25 to February 9 with dancer-builders activating the space throughout the residency at various times during the Cultural Center’s normal business hours: Monday–Friday, 10am–7pm; Saturday–Sunday, 10am–5pm.

    Thank you again for all your support! We hope to see you there.

    • Thank you to the following for contributing to 3Arts with the recommendation that we support this project.

    • Carole McCurdy

    • Mazi Mutafa

    • Patrycja Humienik

    • Karen Bradley

    • Chiedu Ozuzu

    • Ginger Farley

    • eliza nichols

    • Joan Ozuzu

    • Pranita Nayar

    • Zachary Whittenburg

    • Chi Clark

    • Margi Cole

    • Shawn Lent

    • Darrell Jones

    • Donatto Surratt

    • Lisa Lee

    • Kristina Fluty

    • Katie Bellamy

    • susan wiesner

    • Akanu Ozuzu

    • Heather Gilbert

    • Kevin Jeff

    • Kubilay Uner

    • Lisa Gonzales

    • Jeff Hancock

    • michelle ellsworth

    • Joanne Belknap

    • Anonymous Supporter

    • J'Sun Howard

    • Folayemi Wilson

    • Justin Richards

    • Norman Teague


    • Jon Satrom

    • Stephanie Kobes

    • Pamela Crutchfield

    • sandra meyer

    • Jan Bartoszek

    • Anonymous Supporter

    • Rosita M Sands

    • Nathan Bakkum

    • Peter Carpenter

    • Raquel Monroe


    • Deanna Downes

    • Dionne Champion

    • Adam de Monet

    • Adam Rose

    • Chih-Hsien Lin

    • annie rodriguez

    • Marie Casimir

    • Benjamin Wardell

    • Paige Caldarella

    • Pam McNeil

    • April Pollard

    • Jewel Malone

    • erika randall

    • Jane Jerardi

    • Nancy Friesen

    • Thomas DeFrantz

    • Christiane Rey

    • Jessica Marasa

    • Meghann Wilkinson

    • Jackie Kazarian

    • Tracey Dobson

    • Julia Mayer

    • Osubi Craig

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3AP Presenting Partner:

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 Additional support provided by: 

Department of Cultural Affairs logo  Illinois Arts Council