Black and white headshot of Vernon Gooden, an African American man with an athletic built, and short dark hair.



A Dallas, Texas native, Vernon is an emerging choreographer, performer, and teacher now residing in Chicago. He began dancing at the age of 11. As a 2001 graduate of the acclaimed Booker T. Washington High School For The Performing Visual Arts, he received a Level I ranking by the National Foundation For The Advancement In The Arts for college scholarship for high school seniors. Vernon was later nominated by NFAA  and was named by The White House Commission a 2001 Presidential Scholar in the Arts. Mr. Gooden later trained at The Juilliard School under the direction of the late Benjamin Harkarvy and Larry Rhodes.  He has performed with noted companies such as Paul Taylor 2 Dance Company, Dallas Black Dance Theatre, Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company, Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Theatre, Joel Hall and Dancers, Deeply Rooted Dance Theatre, Winifred Haun & Dancers, and Chicago Repertory Ballet. He has performed works of noted choreographers such as Paul Taylor, Katherine Dunham, Donald McKayle, Bill T. Jones, Milton Myers, Cleo Parker Robinson, Nai-Ni Chen, Adam Houghland, Jessica Lang, Christopher Huggins, Kevin Iega Jeff, Winifred Haun, and Wade Schaaf. He performed in the 2023 production of Carmen at Lyric Opera of Chicago. This is Vernon’s first season with Dance in the Parks.

Photo by Michelle Reid