photo: Lindsay Linton
photo: Lindsay Linton
"Butler engendered a piece in which the ballet’s dancers share the stage with a live string quartet (Aaron Schwebel, Jamie Kruspe, Joshua Greenlaw and Olga Laktionova) that shifts on its platform across the stage as they play American composer John Adams’ John’s Book of Alleged Dances (1994), creating a spectacle of red-hot, sexy and sassy dance, at once playful and awe-inspiring."
Susan Walker, artsblog.com
"Butler is a young American choreographer on the rise, and one can see why. Her movement is quite original as she makes the body express itself in intriguing ways — shudders, shimmies, flexes, outthrusts, isolations — a sort of shake, rattle and roll, so to speak. It is also slow and deliberate so the audience can see the body movement in great detail."
Paula Citron, ludwig-van.com
"In her ambitious and thoughtfully assembled Re/Build/Construct (Part I), Butler takes cues from Plato’s Allegory of the Cave to explore how external structures shape internal landscapes and social dynamics."
Siobhan Burke, The New York Times
"The 25-minute, eight-section world premiere is masterfully performed by the full HSDC company. Shot entirely outdoors at parks across the city, Butler's overall vision for the pandemic-era production was "keeping the social distance and still making work that is about connectivity and community,". A Tale Of Two is also heavily inspired by the work of the Black/Brown youth-led anti-violence organization GoodKids MadCity."
Felicia Holman, See Chicago Dance
"The evening concludes with Rena Butler’s This, That, and the Third. This work is possibly the most far-reaching and multifaceted of the three presented here and definitely the most joyous."
Jeffrey Leibham, Panorama Now
Rena's video reel is here.
Rena Butler hails from Chicago and began her dance studies at The Chicago Academy for the Arts and later at Taipei National University of the Arts in Taiwan. She went on to receive a BFA from SUNY Purchase Conservatory of Dance.
Rena has performed with a range of companies in the USA, including Hubbard Street Dance Chicago (also a Choreographic Fellow), AIM by Kyle Abraham, Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company, David Dorfman Dance, Manuel Vignoulle/M-Motions, The Kevin Wynn Collection, Pasos Con Sabor Salsa Dance Company, among many others. She most recently danced with Gibney Company and was their inaugural Choreographic Associate.
In 2019, Rena was a recipient of the prestigious Princess Grace Foundation Award for Choreography. Her commissions include creations for BalletX, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, GroundWorks DanceTheater, Jacob's Pillow Contemporary Summer Program, Parsons, Charlotte Ballet, the Juilliard School, Boston Dance Theater. Additionally she has created works for The New Orleans Museum of Modern Art in collaboration with Academy Award-Winning jazz composer, Terence Blanchard, CHTV Stories television program in Switzerland, a film short in collaboration with Third Coast Percussion x Devonté Hynes/Blood Orange, The Young Choreographer’s Festival in NYC, The Ailey/Fordham School, TEDxChicago Virtual Salon 3.0: Design Your Life, among others.
Rena has been spotlighted in Dance Magazine’s On The Rise feature in 2013, and the featured cover story in Dance Magazine’s November 2021 issue.
As a teacher, Rena has taught dance and choreographic workshops at L’Ecole Nationale Supérieure de Danse de Marseille in France, The Macau Cultural Center in China, Ailey Camp Chicago, and SUNY Purchase Conservatory of Dance.
She served on the Consortium for Chicago Dancemakers Forum for 3 years, was on the annual panel for Black Girls Dance in Chicago, and co-created and directed DanceLab—a free, choreographic course for Chicago teens, empowering participants of varying socioeconomic backgrounds + identities to find commonality in creation. She currently serves on Dancewave’s Artistic Advisory Council in NYC.
In 2022, Rena created an evening length work for Sweden's Norrdans and in the autumn is choreographing Orfeo and Eurydice, directed by Matthew Ozawa, for the San Francisco Opera and working with Gibney Pro.
In 2023, Rena made her Canadian choreographic debut with a new creation commissioned by The National Ballet of Canada celebrating the music of Grammy Award-winning composer John Adams for his 75th birthday that premiered in March.
Also in 2023, Rena will be working with New World School of the Arts, University of Utah, Parsons Dance Company, Lyric Opera, Hubbard Street Dance, Oregon Ballet and Oklahoma City Ballet.