Sara Zalek is an interdisciplinary artist, Avant-garde maker of situations and curious objects. Rooted in physical investigations of trauma, resilience, and transformation, their work is intimate, raw, poetic. They create learning situations, workshops, and sensing environments to encourage thoughtful interpersonal connections.

Zalek performs live often and in both live and online situations; they most currently took residence at the Dance Center at Columbia College of Chicago, were a 2015 Chicago Dancemakers Forum Lab Artist, a 2017 3Arts Make a Wave Awardee, and Ragdale Foundation Fellow. They have performed and curated performances at the Chicago Cultural Center, Elastic Arts, Experimental Sound Studio, Links Hall, Lumpen Radio, and so many more.

Through Butoh Curious / Butoh Chicago, Zalek connects national and international teaching artists with Chicago art makers across genres in the independent and fringe arenas (including dance, butoh, physical theater, experimental and improvisational music). They create opportunities for positive communication and arts integration using workshops, performances, and conversations about personal and collective body. Butoh Curious / Butoh Chicago


2020 3Arts Emergency Relief Grant
2020 Columbia College Virtual Dance Resident

2017-8 3Arts Fellow Nominee

2017 Ragdale Foundation Fellow

2017 Make a Wave Grant Recipient, 3Arts
2016 DCASE Residency & IAP Grant Award
2016 RDDI Artist (National Dance Project/NEFA)

2016 Cheney Foundation Grant Award
2015 Chicago Dancemakers Forum (CDF) Lab Artist
2015 3Arts Sponsored Artist Project

2014 HCL Sponsored Artist

2014 DCASE Grant for Spawned Seeds: Post-Butoh Festival

2012 LinkUp Residency in collaboration with Aurora Tabar



03.05.20 The Best Experimental Music on Bandcamp: Feb 2020

01.08.20 Performance Response Journal

04.30.19 See Chicago Dance

05.01.19 New City Stage, Dance Top 5

10.18.18 Scapi Magazine
04.03.18 Chicago Sun-Times

04.19.17 Windy City Times
03.31.17 New City Stage
03.15.17 Creative Imposter (podcast interview)
12.01.16 Performance Response Journal

10.31.15 Chicago Tribune
04.16.15 Chicago Tribune

04.15.15 Chicago Tribune

02.08.14 See Chicago Dance

04.12.14 Chicago Tribune

03.31.12 Time Out Chicago

05.03.11 Time Out Chicago



BFA 2006 School of the Art Institute of Chicago: sculpture, performance

BA 1991 Syracuse University, BA: Business Communications

Select Solo Performance & Installation:

April 2020 I'm Going Outside @Acorn Series, ESS Quarantine Concert Series


September 2019 Long Poem @Ignition Project Space, Chicago

June 2019 Long Poem @Oliva Gallery, Chicago, Performative response to the visual work of Tamara Wasserman

March 2019 Gold Test: Heart @UrbanGuild, Kyoto, Japan

May 2018 Gold Test: Eyes @Jazz Gallery, Milwaukee, WI, curated by Peter Woods


May 2017 (Outer)Space is the Place @Links Hall Chicago, 2 nights w/2 guest musicians, K.G. Price, N.W. Long

October 2016 / Formidable Dreams Expanded Cinema @Silent Funny Chicago

November 2016 Lilt / InLine by InHabit performance series, @No Nation Gallery Chicago


September 2015 In:Between Worlds Out of Site Chicago @Polish Triangle Chicago

August 2015 Idols Red Rover (force to Power theme) @OuterSpace, Chicago


Select Collaborations:

April 2020 Quarantine Concert Series: Homeroom, with Cher Jey on voice (@19.44)

February 2020 Steelworkers Drone, Cassette Tape @Reserve Matinee

June 2019 Senstitive Circuits: A silent walk focusing on listening to the diverse soundscape of the west Edgewater neighborhood, with Norman W. Long and Gwyneth Zeleny Anderson @Experimental Sound Studio, 5925 N Ravenswood, Chicago


November 2019 There's No Edge to Imaginary Things, written by Olivia Cronk & Philip Sorenson, directed by Logan Berry

3 days @Otherworld Theatre Company, Chicago

November 2018 OSCILLATIONS: DIVYAMAAN SAHOO / LES CHANTEUSES DU REIN @Experimental Sound Studio, Ravenswood, Chicago


March 2018 Trickster Quartet with Hanna Brock and Elaine Lemieux

Yelling at the Dark, 2 cities, 2 nights @Arts + Literature Laboratory, Madison, WI & @Elastic Arts, Chicago


August 2017 Environmental Dialogues with Norman W. Long, soundwalks & public performance @Big Marsh

October 2017 Les Chanteuses du rien, @Regional Dance Development Initiative/Elevate as part of the Chicago Architecture Biennale


June 2016 If not now, when? And Puedo tener su basura? @Mexico City Museo, Mexico City


August 2014 Emergency Response Team Out of Site with Ginger Krebs @Polish Triangle Chicago

December 2012 WatchTower with Jose Hernandez, Ginger Krebs, Bryan Saner, Aurora Tabar, 24HRS/25DAYS @New Capital Projects Chicago


2012-2018 Butoh Body

OuterSpace Studios Chicago

ongoing open weekly movement class
taught or curated by Sara Zalek

January 2019, January 2016 @Light Box Detroit, MI


2014-5 High Concept Laboratories Chicago

Series of weekly intro to Butoh classes



At large is an ad-hoc arts organization, seeking opportunities to foster diversification in the field of art through dedication to artistic practices, public art, and community workshops. Zalek created and currently manages all aspects of


Zalek discovered Thai bodywork through a personal chronic injury, which led to a 200 hour training at Blue Lotus in Chicago in 2017-8. In March, 2019, they visited Pichest Boonthumme in Thailand for more intensive study. Following a strong curiosity about body/mind integration, movement of body and energy, deep listening, and community involvement, they are dedicated to somatic healing and creative arts for all.


Zalek co-managed OuterSpace Studios with Jessica Marasa from 2017-2019. By fostering space, they advocate for teaching and rehearsing artists to have access to space and community. In 2019 they began serving on the Board of Trustees, The Runaways Lab Theater. In 2021, they have co-created an apartment residency in Rogers Park for summer months called Roger Dodger


Marketing and administrative crafts are inadvertent skills Zalek has acquired, the desire to share this experience with artists is fierce.



June 5, Aug 14, November 13

Elastic Arts, Chicago

Tadashi Endo

HAUTNAH, Student Intensive Workshop & Performance
May 31-June 6 2019, OuterSpace Studios, Chicago

Yuko Kaseki

Shoot Geez My Gosh
May 3 2019 No Nation Tangential Art Space & Gallery, Chicago


100 Years of Solitude by Yumiko Yoshioka
Bridge Dance Festival

April 25 2018 Links Hall, Chicago

Yelling at the Dark!

Chicago-Madison Exchange
March 3 2018 Elastic Arts, Chicago
March 10 2018 Arts + Literature Lab, Madison WI

BATTLES: SS3 Post-Butoh Festival

Guest Teachers: Mari Osanai, Paul Michael Henry, Ken Mai
April 5-30, 2017 25+ performers
Locations throughout Chicagoland

Tadashi Endo

Fukushima Mon Amour
August 2016 the Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago

Yumiko Yoshioka / Hector Canoge

April 2016 DFB Gallery Chicago

Tadashi Endo

IKIRU, Requiem for Pina Bausch

June 2015 Old Town School of Folk Music Chicago
Link to Video

SSII: Post Butoh Festival
April 2015 Chicago Cultural Center Chicago, IL
Chicago Tribune Preview
Chicago Tribune Review

Link to Video


Vangeline Theater in Chicago

December 2015 HCL, MANA Contemporary Chicago

See Chicago Dance Review


Spawned Seeds: Post Butoh Festival 

April 2014 Chicago Cultural Center Chicago

Chicago Tribune Review

Organizing Workshops in Chicago:

Body Resonance with
Yumiko Yoshioka
April 9-11, 2021 on Zoom

July 10-12, 2020 on Zoom


Tadashi Endo

May 2019


Yuko Kaseki
Frontier in Body

May 2019
OuterSpace Studios


Yumiko Yoshioka, Body Resonance
April 2018, 2016, 2014

Japanese Culture Center / Defibrillator Gallery / OuterSpace Studios

Jakob Maché, Body Tales

March 2018
OuterSpace Studios


Mari Osanai, Noguchi Taiso
February 2018 & April 2017
Japanese Culture Center


Diego Piñon, Body Ritual Movement
November 2017
OuterSpace Studios

Joan Laage, Butoh Workshop
September 2017

OuterSpace Studios

P. Michael Henry
April 2017

High Concpet Labs


Ken Mai, Butoh Workshop

April 2017
Japanese Culture Center

Tadashi Endo, Butoh Workshops
2019, 2016 and 2015

OuterSpace Studios

Michael Sakamoto, Body Mind Funk Time

November 2016
Reunion Chicago

Vangeline Theater, Butoh Workshop

January 2016, December 2015, 2014, 2013
OuterSpace Studios