- The Latest
- Breaking Stereotypes
- Rant & Rave
- Dance As Activism
- Dancers Trending
- Viral Videos
- The Dancer's Toolkit
- Health & Body
- Dance Training
- Career Advice
- Style & Beauty
- Dance Auditions
- Guides & Resources
- Performance Calendar
- College Guide
- Dance Magazine Awards
- Meet The Editors
- Contact Us
- Advertise/Media Kit
- Buy A Single Issue
- Give A Gift Subscription
How to Create a Residency from Scratch
Back in 2002, dancer and choreographer Jonah Bokaer founded an art space in Brooklyn called Chez Bushwick. As Manhattan and Brooklyn were quickly becoming unaffordable, and many studio spaces were closing, Bokaer seized upon "creative placemaking"—the idea that the arts can play an integral role in community-building—before it became a buzzword. "We have been sustaining and maintaining one of the most affordable dance studios in New York State since the very beginning of my career," he says.
Fifteen years later, the challenges for choreographers in expensive urban centers continue unabated, and Bokaer has found his original mission magnified. While Chez Bushwick remains a haven for the next generation, there is also a growing number of young dancemakers who have been inspired to create their own residencies, communities and, ultimately, opportunities.
Chez Bushwick, PC Yuri Hyun
Why Create Residencies?
Though residencies can vary widely, one goal is common: the desire to create community. When Pepper Fajans founded Brooklyn Studios for Dance, he wanted a place where dance professionals, amateurs, artists, audience members and neighbors could mix seamlessly. The result is a rehearsal, performance and class space run out of the Cadman Congregational Church in Brooklyn. In Los Angeles, Christopher Bordenave was unable to find the kind of welcoming dance hub he craved. So this winter he opened No)one. Art House with the goal of it becoming a place where young people of color can be inspired by a diverse range of dance styles, music, film and visual art.
Claim Your Space
No matter your working model or scale, developing a strong network and utilizing your resources are key to getting a residency off the ground. For Fajans, the year-and-a-half-long path to opening Brooklyn Studios for Dance began when he was introduced to the church's board of trustees. Fajans offered himself up as the caretaker of the building, which was in need of repairs. In return for his efforts, Fajans has acquired a room out of which to run classes and rehearsals, and curate events and performances.
No)one. Art House, PC Tyler Adams
Bordenave originally began developing his company No)one and initial residency program in donated spaces. But artists shouldn't always rely on freebies, he warns. "Space donations can be tricky, and with favors, sometimes the stipulations change." Bordenave was eventually able to afford his space by teaming up with a stylist and a photographer.
To ease the burden of maintaining a space, residencies can take advantage of their community. Brooklyn Studios for Dance offers discounts to artists who help out. Arts On Site, a Manhattan space run by Chelsea Ainsworth, regularly puts out calls for volunteers.
Boost Your Career
A thriving residency program has obvious benefits for the dance community it fosters—but it can transform the artistic career of its founder, too. Bordenave's program has helped him and his colleagues capitalize on opportunities to collaborate with diverse artists, and bring in guests hailing from Nederlands Dans Theater, Batsheva Dance Company, Ballet BC and Cullberg Ballet. After Solange Knowles attended one of No)one's performances choreographed by Danielle Russo, her people reached out and were interested in presenting the performance again. The resulting show drew 200 people from the R&B world and was a coup for the company, Russo and the mission of broadening the dance community.
Rebecca Warthen was on a year-long assignment with the Peace Corps in Dominica last fall when a storm started brewing. A former dancer with North Carolina Dance Theatre (now Charlotte Ballet) and Columbia City Ballet, she'd been sent to the Caribbean island nation to teach ballet at the Dominica Institute of the Arts and in outreach classes at public schools.
But nine and a half months into her assignment, a tropical storm grew into what would become Hurricane Maria—the worst national disaster in Dominica's history.
On the occasion of its 70th anniversary, the Ballet Nacional de Cuba tours the U.S. this spring with the resolute Cuban prima ballerina assoluta Alicia Alonso a the helm. Named a National Hero of Labor in Cuba, Alonso, 97, has weathered strained international relations and devastating fiscal challenges to have BNC emerge as a world-class dance company. Her dancers are some of ballet's best. On offer this time are Alonso's Giselle and Don Quixote. The profoundly Cuban company performs in Chicago May 18–20, Tampa May 23, Washington, D.C., May 29–June 3 and Saratoga, New York June 6–8.
Ever wonder why some dancers' port de bras appears to be disconnected from their body? It typically comes down to how they stabilize their shoulder blades, says Marimba Gold-Watts, Pilates instructor to dancers like Robert Fairchild.
"Dancers often hear the cue to pull down on their latissimus,"—the biggest muscle in the back—"which doesn't allow the shoulder blades to lie flat," she says. "It makes the bottom tips of the shoulder blades wing, or flare out, off the rib cage."
Sidra Bell is one of those choreographers whose movement dancers are drawn to. Exploring the juxtaposition of fierce athleticism and pure honesty in something as simple as stillness, her work brings her dancers to the depths of their abilities and the audience to the edge of their seats.
A few weeks ago, American Ballet Theatre announced the A.B.T. Women's Movement, a new program that will support three women choreographers per season, one of whom will make work on the main company.
"The ABT Women's Movement takes inspiration from the groundbreaking female choreographers who have left a lasting impact on ABT's legacy, including Agnes de Mille and Twyla Tharp," said artistic director Kevin McKenzie in a press release.
Hypothetically, this is a great idea. We're all for more ballet commissions for women. But the way ABT has promoted the initiative is problematic.
Some dancers move to New York City with their sights set on a dream job: that one choreographer or company they have to dance for. But when Maggie Cloud graduated from Florida State University in 2010, she envisioned herself on a less straightforward path.
"I always had in mind that I would be dancing for different people," she says. "I knew I had some kind of range that I wanted to tap into."
New York City Ballet is celebrating the Jerome Robbins Centennial with twenty (20!) ballets. The great American choreographer died in 1998, so very few of today's dancers have actually worked with him. There are plenty of stories about how demanding (at times brutally so) he could be in rehearsal. But Peter Boal has written about Robbins in a more balanced, loving way. In this post he writes about how Robbins' crystal clear imagery helped him approach a role with clarity and purpose.
Who says you need fancy equipment to make a festival-worthy dance film? Right now, two New York City–based dance film festivals are calling for aspiring filmmakers to show their stuff—and you don't need anything more cumbersome than a smartphone to get in on the action.
Here's everything you need to know about how to submit:
When Lisset Santander bourréed onstage as Myrtha in BalletMet's Giselle this past February, her consummate portrayal of the Queen of the Wilis was marked by steely grace and litheness. The former Cuban National Ballet dancer had defected to the U.S. at 21, and after two years with the Ohio company, she's now closer to the dance career she says she always wanted: one of limitless possibilities.