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Flash Perspective, 9-16: Dancing Now in NYC
Five Sold-out Houses Can't be Wrong

By Robin Staff, Tamara Greenfield & Andrea Sholler
Copyright 2005 Dancenow/NYC

Editor's Note: Following a recent New York Times article questioning the strength of modern dance in New York, we asked Robin Staff, Andrea Sholler, and Tamara Greenfield, directors of the citywide Dancenow/NYC festival which concludes tomorrow, to give us their perspective on the current modern dance climate in New York. Their response follows. -- Paul Ben-Itzak

Dear Paul,

We want to thank you, the Dance Insider and the incredible network of Dancenow/NYC supporters from the NYC dance community who are 'watching out for us' and have given DNNYC so much support and assistance from the very start -- recognizing the work that we do and that while we are a small presenting arts organization with a minuscule budget we have dedicated ourselves to experimenting with unconventional ways to present dance in NYC, continuing to challenge the artistic community here, taking risks with young artists and by designing non-traditional programming to attract new audiences and better integrate dance into the lives of the residents of and visitors to NYC.

Presenting dance in NYC is (and has been for nearly 21 years) a labor of love, driven by the vast and diverse spectrum of creativity that we believe is very much alive here.

At this point in time, we have finished the first week of the 11th annual festival with five sold-out shows (filled with audience members we did not know -- with the exception of the opening 4OUp showcase which brought the entire dance community together in one delicious evening) for our inaugural season at Dance Theater Workshop. We are inspired by what we witnessed at DTW as well as at the exquisite Synod House at St. John the Divine. We can testify that dance in NYC is totally percolating with great new talent, fierce and raw energy and many poignant new voices like Naoko Kikuchi, Kyle Abraham, Gerald Casel, Julian Barnett, Erico Villanueva, Deborah Lohse, Nicole Berger, Wanjiru Kamuyu, and Nicole Wolcott (just to name a few), as well as true and tried artists like Nugent + Matteson, Laurie McLeod, Doug Elkins, Victoria Marks, Zvi Gotheiner, Bridgman/Packer and Megan Williams, who we are elated about and looking to see what they will do next. We are honored that DTW took a risk with us this year and opened up its doors to allow us to give these artists an opportunity to perform their work in its state-of-the art theater. Of the 50+ dancemakers that we presented during the Base Camp and Upclose & Personal series, more than two-thirds had never had their work presented at DTW. These new and emerging dancemakers are a passionate and driven group of artists who are bringing a full diversity of style, craft and innovation to the theater.

From the response of the audience both during and after the shows we feel confident to note that the creativity of the choreographers and artistry of the dancers is generating quite a buzz. It is fantastic to see a whole new group of dancers out there on the stage -- well-trained, gorgeous movers totally invested in their craft. On Saturday night, the final group bow included 100+ performers -- each one deserving the incredible round of applause that was bestowed upon them. This is the next generation. EXCITING!

We would also like to mention that out of the 350+ proposals submitted to participate in this year's festival we had close to 200 proposals from the NYC artists to create work for such unconventional venues as the huge Synod House Cathedral, the tiny 10 x 18-foot stage at Joe's Pub (and pub aisles and dining area) and the block-long drained outdoor pool in Highbridge Park. We have watched for the past three years as the artists who join us to perform in our dancemopolitan series at Joe's Pub become addicted to creating new work for this unusual site and are also starting to design their own cabaret-like shows around town. These NYC artists are chomping at the bit withideas to create work for non-traditional dance sites. Artists like Mary Suk, Todd Williams, Ellis Wood, Azsure Barton, Christopher Morgan, and Doug Elkins (to name a few) have all risen to the challenge -- happily forcing us to expand this series from three shows per year to 19 shows in 2005-06.

There is A LOT GOING ON in the dance community. With a day off on Sunday, September 11, we finally had some personal time to reflect -- and to go through stacks of un-opened mail and dance flyers and brochures for the upcoming season/s; we have been chatting all week about all that we want to see after the festival run is over. The spectrum of dance that will be presented -- from PS 122 to DTW, from Fall for Dance to Danspace Project at St. Mark's Church -- is vast in itself. We are thrilled that there is so much new work to check out, and that there will also be a chance to see many proven old favorites. It will always be the case that some of the work will be good, some will be not-so-good and some of it will be off the charts -- but, it is all valid and needs to be respected. We, the Dancenow/NYC team continue to produce the annual festival (and take risks) because if each year we uncover/discover a few exciting new artists and give a few others a chance it is totally worth it.

Thanks for the support! We the Dancenow/NYC team are very happy be a part of the great NYC community of dance. Will keep you posted of what we see from where we sit.


Robin Staff, artistic director
Andrea Sholler, managing director
Tamara Greenfield, urban development director

The 11th edition of the Dancenow/NYC festival continues through tomorrow. For details, please visit the Dancenow/NYC website.

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