Feb / 15



We’ve just wrapped another short film which will premiere as part of Thodos Dance Chicago’s 2016 winter concert beginning Saturday, February 20th at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, and continuing March 5th at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance.  The film features Melissa Thodos,  Kevin Iega Jeff of Deeply Rooted Dance Theater, and Robyn Mineko Williams.

Apr / 7

Second Stories-Part 1

Big thanks to the incomparable Ms Natalie Tursi for burning this out with me today! Looking forwards to “Part 2” with the always awesome Robert McKee!

*Photography/Direction/Choreography: CK Olsen
*Production Company: Kai Harding

Feb / 20


We’ve just wrapped a new short film which will premiere as part of Thodos Dance Chicago’s 2015 winter concert beginning Saturday, February 20th at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, and continuing March 7th at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance.  The film features  seven choreographers whose works will appear in this new performance, digging into the meaning of “Chicago Inspired”. The concert features a reprise of the effervescent “Fosse Trilogy,” celebrating ’60s dances by native Chicagoan and jazz dance great Bob Fosse. Additionally, Melissa Thodos premieres “Near Light,” and guest choreographer Garfield Lemonius presents “Memoirs.” Two pieces by Chicago modern dance pioneer Sybil Shearer will again grace the stage, as will the beautiful “Lullaby” choreographed by Brian Enos. Works by Company Members, John Cartwright and Tenley Dorrill, will be presented after making their premiere at TDC’s “New Dances 2014”. The film also includes former Fosse dancer, and Chicago dance legend Sherry Zunker, and former Sybil Shearer Dancer and Morrison-Shearer Foundation board member Toby Nicholson.

Feb / 9

“MEARRA” on PBS-WYCC March 7th, 2015 @ 7PM

MearraStills-blog_00024Kai Harding Entertainment is proud to announce that Emmy®-winning producer/director Christopher Kai Olsen has partnered with critically acclaimed singer/songwriter Linda Marie Smith to bring her legendary celtic story told through original music and multimedia to television.

The ancient celtic legend of the Selkie is the setting for Mearra-Selkie from the Sea, a musical multimedia extravaganza performed and filmed live at the Irish American Heritage Center in Chicago, which will make its broadcast premiere on Saturday, March 7th 2015 at 7:00 p.m. The broadcast marks the first anniversary of Chicago-based singer/songwriter Linda Marie Smith’s hometown release of her CD of the same name. The broadcast gives Chicago audiences another opportunity to be drawn into this unforgettable family friendly presentation based on the story of a mythical seal with the mysterious ability to metamorphose into a human being.

Infusing Linda Marie Smith’s original, richly orchestrated songs with evocative, hand-drawn, animated images (created by the spectacular Catherine and Sarah Satrun), Mearra Selkie from the Sea presents an enigmatic and bittersweet story of love, loss, and transformation that begins with Mearra, a young Selkie maiden, who falls in love with a lonely fisherman (Ian) who is equally entranced by her supernatural beauty. Mearra bids farewell to her life in the sea, marries Ian, and starts a family. However, seven years later, the sea inexorably calls for Mearra’s return.

With a genre-crossing vocal style that encompasses a folk/rock sensibility, Linda Marie Smith’s music is romantic, soulful, earthy, and mystical, with lyrics and melodies that weave colorful stories of curious places and intriguing people. Linda has been compared to the likes of Christina Perri, Aimee Mann, Lucinda Williams, Natalie Merchant, Jewel, and Sarah McLachlan.

Says Linda Marie Smith, “Creating Mearra – Selkie from the Sea has been one of the most enjoyable and yet one of the most ambitious endeavors in my songwriting career. As a child, fairy tales and folklore captivated me. I loved being transported to other worlds where the impossible was possible. Folklore involves fantastic people or animals and brings our attention to things we value most highly, fear most deeply, and hope for most ardently. My spirit and childlike innocence were rekindled while doing research for Mearra – Selkie from the Sea.”

Chris not only produced and directed the film, but also served as Creative Director for the Mearra – Selkie from the Sea project. Olsen’s innate visual storytelling flows seamlessly alongside Linda Marie Smith’s musicality, breathing additional layers of meaning into the visuals that accompany the concert, and capturing every passionately performed lyric and dramatic orchestration of this haunting musical narrative on film. The result is the breathtaking hour-long performance special Mearra – Selkie from the Sea, which will broadcast multiple times on Chicago’s PBS affiliate WYCC (Channel 20) during the month of March, including:

             -BROADCAST PREMIERE: Saturday, March 7th at 7pm

            -RE-BROADCAST: Sunday, March 8th at 8pm

             -RE-BROADCAST: Thursday, March 12th at 3am

             -RE-BROADCAST: Sunday, March 15th at 4pm

And make sure to check out new writeup from Chicago Sun Times theater critic Hedy Weiss HERE!

Jan / 26

The “Lifeline” Happening at Thomas Masters Gallery

Kai Harding founder Chris Olsen recently partnered with Thodos Dance Chicago, Thomas Masters Gallery, and fashion designer Katrin Schnabl to develop a cross-disciplinary collaborative performance experience that eventually came to be known as “Lifelines”.  This invite-only “Happening”, composed of multilayered video projection, improvisational dance, electronic music, and wearable fabric sculpture, took place at the Thomas Masters Art Gallery on Friday January 23rd, 2015 playing to a packed house of avid fans of the avante-garde… and made for one heck of an evening! Kudos to all involved, especially our brilliant dancers Kyle Hadenfeldt, Diana Winfree, Brandon Harneck, and Tenley Dorrill.  Here are some pics of the event, and video should follow soon… But if you missed it, make sure to stay tuned for more happenings later this year!

Dec / 1

Mearra: Selkie from the Sea @ Old Town School of Music

Experience Linda Marie Smith’s latest live music show, “Mearra – Selkie From the Sea” Sunday, December 7th at 3pm, at the famed Old Town School of Music in Chicago. This family-friendly performance features an original adaptation of a classic Celtic tale told with original songs and performed with a eight piece ensemble, playing along to original projections directed by Kai Harding filmmaker Chris Olsen, and animated by Catherine and Sarah Satrun.

In this re-imagined story, Mearra, a mythical seal, makes use of her magical ability to transform into a human being, marries Ian, a lonely fisherman and eventually starts a family; knowing all the while she must inevitably return to the sea as a seal, or perish. The characters experience love, loss and transformation while emotionally charged music, beautiful stage lighting and evocative projected imagery all come together to make for an unforgettable multi-media concert experience.

For more information, please visit https://www.oldtownschool.org/concerts/2014/12-07-2014-linda-marie-smith-presents-mearra-selkie-from-the-sea-3pm/

Nov / 10

The White City @ the Auditorium Theater!

You may have seen our recently created 3o second commercial broadcast spot on television this month (shown below), but in case you missed it, make sure to check out Thodos Dance Chicago’s critically acclaimed dance performance of THE WHITE CITY (featuring nearly an hour of original film projections created by filmmaker Chris Olsen and produced here at Kai Harding) as it makes its triumphant return to Chicago at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University on November 29th! Get your tickets now at www.auditoriumtheatre.org.

Nov / 3


KHI-BTWCL-EMMY-HeaderBENEATH THE WHITE CITY LIGHTS returns to Chicago with new broadcasts throughout October and November on PBS-WYCC including October 31st at 8PM, November 2nd at 9PM, and November 8th at 7PM, and many more!

(Make sure to check the Calender for additional airdates!)

Sep / 24

EMMY®-Nomination for A LIGHT IN THE DARK!

Annnnd… we have some pictures from the big night too, courtesy of Kathleen Virginia Photography!


Sep / 19

A LIGHT IN THE DARK-Live at the Doudna-10/10/14

THODOS DANCE CHICAGO‘S acclaimed story ballet “A Light in the Dark: The story of Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan” (co-choreographed by Melissa Thodos and Broadway legend Ann Reinking, with music composed by Bruce Wolosoff) makes its return to the Midwest on October 10th, 2014 as part of Eastern Illinois University’s Fall Program at the Doudna Fine Arts Center.

From the Doudna Website:

“Their first story ballet, “The White City,” was so well received that you asked to see “A Light In the Dark” as a TDC encore and Doudna Fine Arts Center ‘Best Of’. Through contemporary dance, “A Light In the Dark” tells the story of how Anne, Helen’s teacher, led her from a state of almost feral wildness into education, activism and intellectual celebrity. A 49-year-long relationship between the two shows Sullivan’s evolution from teacher into governess and then eventual companion, while Keller went on to become a world-famous speaker, author and advocate for persons with disabilities, amid numerous other causes.”

For More Information, Please Visit:

http://www.eiu.edu/doudna/events.php?id=155   or   www.thodosdancechicago.org

Aug / 28

Madzilla-Beneath The Scales

This summer, Kai/Harding joined founder Chris Olsen in a partnership with Mo Wagdy, Jonathan Becker, and two amazing crews of talented Chicago filmmakers on a Make-A-Wish Project for a 5 year old boy with Leukemia, with a dream of starring in his very own Giant Monster Movie! On Thursday August 28th nearly a thousand VIP audience members had the privelage of seeing the results of our labor at Chicago’s famous Music Box Theatre!

The evening began with Chris’s heartwarming documentary film “BENEATH THE SCALES-The Story of Madzilla”, followed by Jonathan’s campy monster filled short film MADZILLA!  Production on both films has been a blast, and we had so much fun hanging out with the amazingly talented 60+ film/production volunteers (and many notable Chicago Supporters, including Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Richard Roeper and more!) to finally see little Maddex’s Make-A-Wish dream become a reality on the big screen!

There were two screenings that night, during which we celebrated alongside our fellow filmmakers from both MADZILLA and BENEATH THE SCALES (including Tyler Roth of Company 3, Joel Signer and the Method Studios graphics team, and Brian Reed, Philip von During, and the rest of the Bam Audio crew) on the Make-A-Wish BLUE carpet, under the Music Box Marquee!

There’s been a ton of press for the project which you can see below, and Film Critic Richard Roeper just gave MADZILLA 10 thumbs up… Eight more thumbs than any other film in history! Both films are available for viewing on Youtube… links to follow!