Gibney Goes Big: Inside the NYC Dance Hub's Latest Expansion
New York City–based dancers know Gibney. It's a performance venue, a dance company, a rehearsal space, an internship possibility—a Rubik's Cube of resources bundled into two sites at 280 and 890 Broadway. And in March of this year, Gibney (having officially dropped "Dance" from its name) announced a major expansion of its space and programming; it now operates a total of 52,000 square feet, 23 studios and five performance spaces across the two locations.
Six of those studios and one performance space are brand-new at the 280 Broadway location, along with several programs. EMERGE will commission new works by emerging choreographic voices for the resident Gibney Dance Company each year; Making Space+ is an extension of Gibney's Making Space commissioning and presenting program, focused on early-career artists. For the next three years, the Joyce Theater Foundation's artist residency programs will be run out of one of the new Gibney studios, helping to fill the gap left by the closing of the Joyce's DANY Studios in 2016.
The organization has been contemplating this expansion since 2014, when it moved into 280 Broadway, says Gina Gibney, but the first phase focused on renovating the existing spaces. The remainder of the property was subleased, and was mainly used for storage. "It was a mess," Gibney says. "It was crammed full of costumes and props and old suitcases.
Photo by Whitney Browne, Courtesy Gibney
Driving the expansion was Gibney's intimate understanding of the challenges faced by dance artists in New York. "I've spent a lot of time surrounded by dancers who have very specific and particular needs, and I live and breathe those needs on a daily basis," she says. "We never seemed to have enough of those studios where 6 to 12 dancers could actually stage a piece to perform in a sizable house. I really wanted to create those types of studios, not only where people could rehearse in two-hour blocks, but where mid-career artists could rehearse substantial works over big chunks of time."
Paired with new studios, the new, fully equipped black-box theater will provide a year-round home for production residencies that enable artists to develop work requiring technical support in a theater setting during the creative process.
It sounds like a dream come true for dancers at all levels—emerging, mid-career and seasoned artists can find support for their work, including a promised 25,000 hours of affordable space each year, in addition to existing production residencies, choreographic residencies, workshops and classes.
Major funding for the expansion was provided by the City of New York, as part of its Affordable Real Estate for Artists initiative. Gibney's ongoing support comes from an array of funders and from earned income from space rentals—the organization offers studios at commercial rates to Broadway productions, for example, which helps subsidize its reduced rates for nonprofits, individual artists and activists.
There was some grumbling on social media when the organization announced it was dropping "Dance" from its name. But Gibney herself notes that most people drop the "Dance" and just say, "I'm going to Gibney." Keeping that name was important to the board and the leadership team, to reflect the fact that the organization is artist- and women-led. Says Gibney herself, "We're really interested in being an organization that serves the whole field of dance, and we also have a huge social justice mission. But we wanted something simple, because we're complicated."
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If "Fosse/Verdon" whet your appetite for the impeccable Gwen Verdon, then Merely Marvelous: The Dancing Genius of Gwen Verdon is the three-course meal you've been craving. The new documentary—available now on Amazon for rental or purchase—dives into the life of the Tony-winning performer and silver-screen star lauded for her charismatic dancing.
Though she's perhaps most well-known today as Bob Fosse's wife and muse, that's not even half of her story. For starters, she'd already won four Tonys before they wed, making her far more famous in the public eye than he was at that point in his career. That's just one of many surprising details we learned during last night's U.S. premiere of Merely Marvelous. Believe us: You're gonna love her even more once you get to know her. Here are eight lesser-known tidbits to get you started.
Every dancer knows that how you fuel your body affects how you feel in the studio. Of course, while breakfast is no more magical than any other meal (despite the enduring myth that it's the most important one of the day), showing up to class hangry is a recipe for unproductive studio time.
So what do your favorite dancers eat in the morning to set themselves up for a busy rehearsal or performance day?
When it comes to dance in the U.S., companies in the South often find themselves overlooked—sometimes even by the presenters in their own backyard. That's where South Arts comes in. This year, the regional nonprofit launched Momentum, an initiative that will provide professional development, mentorship, touring grants and residencies to five Southern dance companies.
You ever just wish that Kenneth MacMillan's iconic production of Romeo and Juliet could have a beautiful love child with the 1968 film starring Olivia Hussey? (No, not Baz Luhrmann's version. We are purists here.)
Wish granted: Today, the trailer for a new film called Romeo and Juliet: Beyond Words was released, featuring MacMillan's choreography and with what looks like all the cinematic glamour we could ever dream of: