When Béa Rashid moved her dance studio, Dance Center Evanston, to Evanston Plaza on the corner of Dempster Street and Dodge Avenue in 2004, she noticed a vacant space next door. Ms. Rashid recognized the potential of the space as a performance venue for dance in particular, with its high ceilings and spacious floor area.
“I saw the space immediately as a performance space. … We don’t really have enough performance venues that can support dance [on the North Shore],” said Ms. Rashid. However, it was not until 10 years later that the opportunity presented itself to her and Steve Rashid, her husband and co-director for Studio 5.
In October of 2016, the husband-and-wife team officially opened Studio 5. Unlike other Evanston performance venues, Studio 5 is not primarily designed as a theater. Its unique design allows the space to be transformed from two separate dance studios into a 128-seat performance venue in less than an hour. Whether it is hosting dance events, music shows, spoken word and storytelling events or the recurring film series with Hollywood screenwriter Dana Olsen, the Rashids have cultivated Studio 5 as unique space for professional art in Chicagoland.
When they were getting started, the Rashids utilized the vast network of performers they know both inside and outside Chicago. Both have had extensive careers in the Chicago art scene, Ms. Rashid as a dancer and choreographer, and Mr. Rashid as an audio engineer, composer and jazz radio host. Mr. Rashid said, “[in the beginning] I started out just calling friends.” As Studio 5’s reputation has grown among local performers, the Rashids have sought to schedule performances that people might not be able to see elsewhere. “People can trust the quality of what’s coming in,” said Ms. Rashid.
Studio 5 is equipped with a state-of-the-art sound system, and Mr. Rashid said sound quality goes beyond what can be found at most other performing venues. Mr. Rashid said they wanted studio-recording quality in the space so that they could properly record all musicians who perform there. All jazz performances can be found on WDCB (90.9 FM), the Chicago jazz radio station, where Mr. Rashid hosts a show.
Since its start in 2016, Studio 5 has developed into a trusted and well-respected performance venue in Chicagoland and the North Shore. The Rashids are proud of this growth and are excited to see Studio 5 continue to develop, bringing in larger audiences and more multimedia performances. They want to foster more conversations between audiences and artists and give audience members and young artists the opportunity to understand the process of creating professional art.
Whether hosting Tom Mula’s “Jacob Marley’s Christmas Carol,” read by the writer himself, or interpretive piano playing to accompany a silent movie, Studio 5 is offering performances that are hard to find elsewhere. Their upcoming performance “RockCitizen” by the renowned dance group The Seldoms promises an exciting mixture of powerful and vivid dance inspired by the social activism of the 1960s and 1970s. Performances will be at 8 p.m. on Nov. 16 and 17.
“I want Studio 5 to be known in the community as a playground for creativity. Providing performances that are fun, unique and make you think,” said Mr. Rashid. Studio 5 is a reminder that adults and artists need to play too.