Inside DM

Dancers as Activists

Gibney Dance Company empowers its members to create their own social-impact initiatives.

Nigel Campbell teaching at Move(NYC), his tuition-free summer program. PC Scott Shaw, Courtesy Gibney.

What if your full-time dance job required more than rehearsing and performing? What if it also asked you to create new ways to give back to your community? The six members of New York City–based Gibney Dance Company have been empowered to do exactly that, as artistic director Gina Gibney expands the troupe’s mission beyond its traditional performances and domestic violence outreach. Each member will now direct his or her own “advocacy fellowship,” with Gibney’s oversight. “I’ve seen so many young artists who want to make a difference but didn’t have the resources available to them to make it work,” says Gibney. “Being advocates for the field is now part of their job description.”

The dancers are being guided by Gibney’s staff, board members and outside partners at every stage, from planning to production. They started by drafting their own program designs, case statements, timelines and methods to evaluate success. While funding for this extension of the company—in particular the dancers’ salaries—comes from Gibney donors, the dancers are actively participating in the fundraising for their own projects. Programs range from an organization that helps dancers through tough career moments, like negotiating a contract or getting injured, to youth dance programs. Some have already tested their ideas through pilots: Nigel Campbell is one of the first company members to roll out his initiative. With co-founder Chanel DaSilva, he started Move(NYC), a tuition-free summer intensive for advanced dancers from New York City’s five boroughs. “We wanted to help dancers who have the drive to become professionals, but may not have the means to do so competitively,” says Campbell. Under their program this summer, 30 students, ages 13 to 18, studied under dancers from Batsheva, Kidd Pivot and Hamilton, among others.

Campbell is happy to have a job that doesn’t just emphasize giving back to the community, but provides him with the resources he needs to achieve it. These outreach projects are part of the dancers’ new 52-week contract (up from about 36), which includes a paid, one-month sabbatical in August, given so that the dancers can study elsewhere or take on other creative projects. “It means I can focus on helping my community as well as my art,” says Campbell. “I don’t have to run to bartend or babysit. I know that a paycheck is coming every two weeks. I don’t have to worry about that—I can commit my time, energy and focus to where it really matters.”

Though Gibney is realistic about the tough economic challenges dance companies face, she hopes that other groups will someday be able to take on this model. “Dancers have such an incredible ability to bring people together. To give people a better understanding of their world,” she says. “If there could be more platforms for artists to realize their ideas, that’s my humble goal.” 

Dance on Broadway
Michelle Dorrance. Photo by Jayme Thornton

What do Percy Jackson, Princess Diana and Tina Turner have in common? They're all characters on Broadway this season. Throw in Michelle Dorrance's choreographic debut, Henry VIII's six diva-licious wives and the 1990s angst of Alanis Morissette, and the 2019–20 season is shaping up to be an exciting mix of past-meets-pop-culture-present.

Here's a look at the musicals hitting Broadway in the coming months. We're biding our time until opening night!

Keep reading... Show less
UA Dance Ensemble members Candice Barth and Gregory Taylor in Jessica Lang's "Among the Stars." Photo by Ed Flores, courtesy University of Arizona

If you think becoming a trainee or apprentice is the only path to gaining experience in a dance company environment, think again.

The University of Arizona, located in the heart of Tucson, acclimates dancers to the pace and rigor of company life while offering all the academic opportunities of a globally-ranked university. If you're looking to get a head-start on your professional dance career—or to just have a college experience that balances company-level training and repertory with rigorous academics—the University of Arizona's undergraduate and graduate programs have myriad opportunites to offer:

Keep reading... Show less
Dancers Trending
Alice Sheppard/Kinetic Light in DESCENT, which our readers chose as last year's "Most Moving Performance." Photo by Jay Newman, courtesy Kinetic Light

Yes, we realize it's only August. But we can't help but to already be musing about all the incredible dance happenings of 2019.

We're getting ready for our annual Readers' Choice feature, and we want to hear from you about the shows you can't stop thinking about, the dance videos that blew your mind and the artists you discovered this year who everyone should know about.

Keep reading... Show less
Health & Body
Getty Images

Ah, stretching. It seems so simple, and is yet so complicated.

For example: You don't want to overstretch, but you're not going to see results if you don't stretch enough. You want to focus on areas where you're tight, but you also can't neglect other areas or else you'll be imbalanced. You were taught to hold static stretches growing up, but now everyone is telling you never to hold a stretch longer than a few seconds?

Considering how important stretching correctly is for dancers, it's easy to get confused or overwhelmed. So we came up with 10 common stretching scenarios, and gave you the expert low-down.

Keep reading... Show less


Get Dance Magazine in your inbox