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June 2024

MSP 175: Rachel Damon

By Podcast

PODCAST 175: Rachel Damon

Release Date: 6.3.24


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When Decisions are Commitments with Rachel Damon

Episode 175: Show Notes

Joining us today is Rachel Damon, a choreographer, theatrical designer, performer, and co-founder and artistic director of Synapse Arts, a Chicago-based dance theater company. Rachel’s self-made career is a testament to her multidisciplinary talents, blending onstage and backstage roles to create dynamic performance works through collaboration, improvisation, and teamwork. In this episode, Rachel shares her remarkable journey from lovable weirdo at musical theatre summer camp to internationally-renowned production stage manager and performer who lives her life by making decisions as commitments. Tuning in, you’ll discover how her dual passions for choreography and crafting have fueled her personal and professional growth, the power of educating performers to negotiate their value, ensuring that art is recognized as legitimate work, and why diversity is a cornerstone of Synapse Arts’ identity. We also explore Rachel’s love for theatre production, her innovative partnership with the Chicago Park District, and the unique site-specific performances born from this collaboration. Join us for an engaging conversation that covers all this and more!

Key Points From This Episode:

  • An overview of Rachel’s background and what sparked her interest in dance and theatre.
  • The importance of exposing young people to theatre and the creative arts.
  • The immediacy that she loves about theatre production work and stage management.
  • How Links Hall in Chicago acted as a springboard for her career.
  • Insight into Synapse Arts, how it got started, and how it has evolved since.
  • Synapse’s partnership with the Chicago Park District’s Arts & Culture Unit (ACU).
  • Rachel’s site-specific and outdoor performances that punctuate everyday life.
  • The significance of her interdisciplinary work, including her “textile dances.”
  • Challenges she has encountered in her onstage and backstage career.
  • How Rachel empowers artists and advocates for art to be valued as work.
  • Ways that you can contribute to Synapse’s 20th Birthday Bash Campaign.
  • Why a diversity of identities and lived experiences is important in the arts.

“Being with the weird people who are risky, accepting, and idea-driven [is] where I feel safe and inspired.” — Rachel Damon

ABOUT Rachel

Rachel Damon (she/her) is a designer, choreographer, producer, and performer whose career bridges onstage and backstage. As a cofounder and Co-Director of Synapse Arts she has been honored to receive support from MetLife, The Saints, The Illinois Arts Council, 3Arts, and DCASE for projects that have been presented at The Dance Center, The Museum of Contemporary Art, The Detroit Institute of Art, Ingenuity Cleveland, TEK BOX Minneapolis, The Field Museum, Roy Hart International Arts Centre (France), and Vo’Arte (Portugal).

Damon has developed her dance-theatre, site-specific, film, and kinetic textile works through residencies with The Ragdale Foundation, The Morrison-Shearer Foundation, Links Hall, The Chicago Cultural Center, and South House (England).

A Stage Manager at Cirque du Soleil/Blue Man Group and a 2005 graduate of Columbia College Chicago, Damon loves to knit while watching action movies, and she eats dessert every day.


Connect with Rachel Damon

Synapse Arts

Synapse Arts on Instagram


Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

Podcast produced by: The Moving Architects
Interviewer: Erin Carlisle Norton