Gallim Dance performs Practicing Awe at Grace Farms. PC Vanessa Van Ryzin, Courtesy Grace Farms.
While not a new idea, the development of rural sites dedicated to arts creation is trending with renewed intensity, particularly in the Northeast. “Getting out of the city and going where the company lives together, shares meals together, it creates a family,” says Andrea Miller, artistic director of Gallim Dance. Gallim participates in residencies across the country, including several with Jacob’s Pillow and, more recently, Grace Farms. “We can dive into creation more vulnerable and open, leading to new ways of thinking that we bring back to our work in the city.”Here are three organizations growing in new directions.
Jacob’s Pillow Expansion
The pioneer for rural dance retreats and performance, Jacob’s Pillow celebrates its 85th anniversary this summer with the opening of the$4.5 million Perles Family Studio. The studio will not only provide a high-caliber setting for intensive students and festival companies, but will also increase year-round residency space for the Creative Development Residency Program.Invited artists—this season there are 10 residencies, with plans to grow—are provided with free housing for one to three weeks, 24-hour studio access, full access to Pillow archives, and a showing with audience feedback and dialogue. They also receive a stipend for the residency and additional funds for a dramaturg or other outside eye. “The Pillow feels like hallowed ground, and any visiting artist joins the history of those that came before them,” explains director Pamela Tatge. “Many artists feel it renews their commitment to the art form.”
Lumberyard Under Construction
American Dance Institute is rebuilding and rebranding the organization as Lumberyard, named after its new home in a Hudson riverfront lumberyard in Catskill, New York, two hours north of New York City. Due for completion in May 2018, plans include $5 million renovations of the 30,000-square-foot lumberyard building, transforming it into a theater, artist housing, offices and kitchen, followed by renovations of three barns, one including a large dance studio, to be completed at a later date.
Lumberyard distinguishes itself by supporting creation of contemporary multidisciplinary work through Incubator, a curated residency program. “Our goal is to strengthen the artists’ work and put their needs first, to get their city premiere as ready as possible,” saysexecutive and artistic director Adrienne Willis. “We wanted to be far enough from New York City that artists feel like they are getting away, to minimize distractions that pull from creative work.”
Grace Farms’ Extraordinary First Year
This past October the impressive Grace Farms in New Canaan, Connecticut, held its one-year anniversary benefit featuring performances by Wendy Whelan and Gallim Dance alongside other visual, literary and performing artists. Kenyon Adams, the Grace Farms Foundation’s Arts Initiative director, describes the unique site as a place for collaboration and dialogue. The $67 million Riverbuilding sits on an 80-acre property of meadows, woods, wetlands and ponds, and houses a 700-seat indoor amphitheater/sanctuary. The site is open to thegeneral public and artists alike to encourage exploration of five initiatives: nature, arts, justice, community and faith. Admission is free.
“Everyone is invited to come here on their own at any time for peace and solitude, to enjoy the sheer beauty of nature and our building,” says Adams. While this generosity does not equate to free studio time, the site does offer space grants. Grace Farms also engages in thought-provoking discussions, such as hosting artists from a variety of disciplines for arts + mars, a workshop with NASA scientists to learn about NASA’s Journey to Mars mission. “Here you can clarify the priorities that drive your work,” Adams says, “and see the possibilities that arise when you take time to pause.”
Pacific Northwest Ballet principals Rachel Foster and Jonathan Porretta took their final curtain call on June 9, 2019. Photo by Lindsay Thomas, Courtesy PNB
We all know dance careers are temporary. But this season, it feels like we're saying goodbye to more stars than usual.
Many have turned to social media to share their last curtain calls, thoughts on what it feels like to say farewell to performing, and insights into the ways that dancing has made them who they are. After years of dedicating your life to the studio and stage, the decision to stop dancing is always an emotional one. Each dancer handles it in their own way—whether that means cheekily admitting to having an existential crisis, or simply leaving with no regrets about what you did for love.
We will miss these dancers' performances, but can't wait to see what awaits each in their next chapters.
A previous lab cycle. Photo by Evan Zimmerman/MurphyMade, Courtesy RRR Creative
Choreographic incubator Broadway Dance Lab has recently been rechristened Dance Lab New York. "I found the nomenclature of 'Broadway' was actually a type of glass ceiling to the organization," says choreographer Josh Prince, who founded the nonprofit in 2012.