Early in 2011, filmmaker Chris Olsen created nearly 50 minutes of original film for inclusion within a newly created multimedia stage ballet from Thodos Dance Chicago called “The White City: The Columbian Exposition of 1893.” The ambitious original work, co-conceived and choreographed by Artistic Director Melissa Thodos and Tony Award® winner Ann Reinking, brings the infamous ‘Chicago World’s Fair’ to life through dance, in a story filled with passion, intrigue, and murder, and a cast of historic characters including famed architect John Root, ill-fated Chicago mayor Carter Harrison Sr., and America’s first serial killer, Dr. H.H. Holmes.

During the ballet-making process, Olsen began documenting the projects development, capturing a multitude of dynamic moments from its choreographic beginnings, all the way through to its critically acclaimed March 2011 premiere at the Harris Theater in Chicago’s Millennium Park. The end result is the visually arresting half-hour dance odyssey “Beneath the White City Lights: The Making of an American Story Ballet,” an artistic insider’s view of the creative process, which combines breathtaking performance video, intimate rehearsal footage and revealing interviews with the ballet’s co-creators and many of the talented dancers who helped bring this story to life.

The film made its broadcast premiere on PBS WTTW-11 (CHICAGO) on Thursday, February 23, 10:30pm, and made its theatrical debut at the LITTLE ROCK FILM FESTIVAL on Friday, June 1st @ 2:30pm.  The film, which was recently nominated for a 2012 EMMY-Award for Outstanding Achievement for Documentary Programs – Cultural (Chicago/Midwest), continues to broadcast on PBS stations across the country, and is now available ON DEMAND!


*NOMINATION – 2012 MIDWEST EMMY – Outstanding Achievement for Documentary Programs – Cultural

Kai Harding, Inc.

Producer/Director/Cinematographer/Editor: Chris Olsen
Camera/Lighting: Chris Olsen, Kyle Bainter
Sound Post Production: Eric Cauwels

Ann Reinking – Herself
Melissa Thodos – Herself
Jeremy Blair – John Root
Brian Hare – H. H. Holmes
Wade Schaaf – Mayor Carter Harrisson
Josh Manculish – Eugene Patrick Prendergast
Mollie Mock – Sophia Hayden
Jessica Miller Tomlinson – Female Victim
Danielle Scanlon – Young Woman in Love
Michael McDonald  – Young Man in Love
Chris Multhauf – Narrator