Margi Cole attended the Alabama School of Fine Arts, a public performing arts high school, and earned a BA in dance from Columbia College Chicago and an MFA in dance from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. At the University of Illinois, Margi’s accomplishments included performing in work by Renee Wadleigh, Bill Young, Ralph Lemon, Martha Graham and Jose Limon and making the list of “Teachers Rated Excellent by their Students” in four consecutive semesters while on faculty.
In 1996 Margi founded The Dance COLEctive with the intention of operating as an umbrella to help administratively support the presentation of her work and work by her peers. Since establishing the company Margi has created more than 30 works and commissioned 13 solos. Throughout her long career, Margi has had the great pleasure of performing in works by many choreographers and continues to perform for local choreographers and her own solo work. Her work has been performed at various venues and multi-artist festivals, both onstage and site-specific, locally and nationally.
Margi has taught and guest-lectured at numerous educational and professional organizations, including the Alabama Ballet, the American College Dance Festival, Ballet Tennessee, Northwestern University, Columbia College Chicago, Lou Conte Dance Studio, the Joffrey Academy of Dance, the American Dance Festival and other institutions throughout Illinois, the Midwest and the Southeast. More recently she has expanded her teaching internationally, to include Maiden Voyage in Belfast and Dance Ireland in Dublin.
She has received two Choreographic Mentoring Scholarships from the Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago and two Illinois Arts Council Individual Artist Fellowships, and she won a Panoply Festival Choreography Award for Contemporary Dance in Huntsville, Alabama. She also received a 2005 Chicago Dancemakers Forum Lab Artist Award, an honor of $15,000 in grant money given to only four choreographers each year to aid in the development of significant new work. The grant supported an extensive project about the Brontë sisters and their masculine alter egos. The nature of the project offered her first opportunity to travel abroad to for research purposes. The resulting 33-minute piece premiered in 2006, supported by a videoscape and original score. Written on the Body received recognition from the National Endowment for the Arts, which allowed her to perform the work extensively in the Southeast Region.
In 2005 Margi was awarded an American Marshall Memorial Fellowship, joining other leaders in their respective fields to represent the United States on a month-long tour of European countries. She was one of 57 fellows that year from around the country and the only artist in the group.
Margi is active in the Chicago dance community, serving on grant panels and in public forums as an arts administrator, mentor, performer and choreographer. In 2011, she was integral in organizing the Dance/USA and Marshall Forum annual conferences in Chicago. She was a Chicago Dancemakers Forum Consortium Member for two years and a member of the Marshall Memorial Fellowship Selection Committee and served as a mentor during the Thodos Dance Chicago New Dances Project in 2014. She was named one of The Players in NewCity’s “Fifty People Who Really Perform in Chicago” in 2012 and recognized by Today’s Chicago Woman among its 2014 “100 Women of Inspiration.”
Most recently, Margi received a 2015 Individual Arts Program Creative Projects Grant from the City of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events to support her collaboration with Peter Carpenter Performance Project at the Storefront Theater. She is currently on faculty at Columbia College Chicago and serves as the Series Program Manager of the Dance Center’s Presenting Series, now in its 43rd season. In November, Margi joined the board of Audience Architects, a dance service organization with the mission to build and engage dance audiences in Chicago and advocate for Chicago dance.
Photo by Eric Olson