A Burst of Support for NYC Dance

April 20, 2014

Every once in a while a funding organization hits on a good idea that’s a win-win for both art and education. Such is the new CUNY Dance Initiative, which will bring more dance to university students in NYC while also providing space for choreographers.

Starting this summer, 11 CUNY campuses in all five boroughs will host a total of 12 to 14 residencies. The goals are all good things: Supporting dance artists in the making of new work, enriching college campuses, and building dance audiences for the future. Kudos to the New York Community Trust and Mertz Gilmore Foundation, both of which have both been very generous to dance for decades, for making this project possible. For more info, click here.

A pilot project last year was carried out in four venues: City College (Manhattan), LaGuardia Performing Arts Center (Queens), Queens College (Queens), and On Stage at Kingsborough Community College (Brooklyn).

Carlos dos Santos Jr., the Brazilian choreographer who creates the brilliant Grand Defilé for Youth American Grand Prix gala each spring, was chosen for the City College pilot project. Working with six dancers, a capoerista, and two composers, he prepared a premiere called 20 to celebrate his 20 years in the U. S. He and his team had complete access to City College’s Aaron Davis Hall. “It was amazing because we were working in the theater; the theater lights—everything—was right there.”

The partnerhip also fit in with City College’s budding project to include more dance programming at Aaron Davis Hall. After completing his performances last fall, dos Santos, who has performed and taught internationally, is now talking with City College about possible workshops this fall, with “more experimentation.” They also talked about including Brazilian Orisha, the dance of the gods of Africa, in which dos Santos is initiated.

Other dance artists who were part of the pilot were tapper Andrew Nemr and the chamber ballet group Ballet Next.

The application is accessible at this site. The deadline is April 30, and the first round of artists will be announced in early summer.

As dos Santos says, “I hope it grows and develops even more because it really is an amazing opportunity—not just for the choreographers but for the whole community to be exposed to these different forms.”