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Chicago’s Lou Conte Dance Studio closes due to coronavirus economic fallout

The studio was the birthplace of what became the world-renowned Hubbard Street Dance Chicago.

Choreographer Lou Conte is photographed in Chicago in his namesake studio in 2013.
Choreographer Lou Conte is photographed in Chicago in his namesake studio in 2013.
Sun Times File

For 46 years, Chicago’s dance enthusiasts could hone their fancy footwork skills at the Lou Conte Dance Studio — first at its original Hubbard Street location and later at a massive, state-of-the-art dance center on West Jackson Boulevard — home to the world-renowned Hubbard Street Dance Chicago (which drew its name from that original studio hub).

The studio became one of the best-known centers for dance instruction for people of all skill levels, all walks of life. But all its drop-in adult dance classes — from ballet, jazz, modern, tap, African, hip-hop and more — have come to an end as the studio announced Friday it has closed its doors for good, a cultural casualty of the economic hardship born of the coronavirus pandemic.

It was Lou Conte — dancer, choreographer and instructor — who was approached by three dancers in 1974 to teach tap at his eponymous studio. The four would go on to launch Hubbard Street Dance Chicago; Conte would go on to serve as the troupe’s director for 23 years.

In a statement Friday announcing the closure, Hubbard Street Dance executive director David McDermott said, in part: “With a heavy heart and with gratitude ... today we announce that the Lou Conte Dance Studio will be closed indefinitely. The closure is a direct result of the COVID-19 public health crisis.

“... Tens of thousands of dancers attended classes at LCDS each year. Here, dancers of all ages have found instruction and inspiration, and together they have built a warm and welcoming community.”

The studio closure follows news in January that Hubbard Street Dance sold its headquarters at 1147 W. Jackson to a condominium developer.

Earlier this month, Hubbard Street Dance announced it canceled all performances through April 12 due to the pandemic and closure of all theaters. Tickets for its “Boundless” spring series, May 14-17, are currently on sale.