Pick a Borough, Any Borough

August 4, 2014

New York City dance has just been blessed with a brilliantly sensible project. The idea is so obvious, why didn’t anyone think of it before? The NYC public colleges have the space, and dance artists need the space. So, the CUNY Dance Initiative was born. Companies as established as Larry Keigwin, Elisa Monte and Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, as well as newbie groups like BARE Dance Company and ELSCO Dance, will benefit. But perhaps benefiting even more will be the students of CUNY schools in all five boroughs. They’ll take master classes, watch rehearsals or have other opportunities to see dancing up close. And—who knows?—for some of those kids, it might change their lives.


After a pilot project last year, the CUNY Dance Initiative is really doing it up big this year, with 11 campuses hosting a total of 20 residencies. We didn’t need a Mellon Foundation report to tell us that affordable studio space is a critical need for hundreds (thousands?) of New York dance artists, but it helped. With the support of two long-term dance-friendly funding organizations—the New York Community Trust and the Mertz Gilmore Foundation—this initiative nurtures the growth of dance artists, their companies, and the students at these schools.


Right: Les Ballets Trockadero. Photo by Lois Greenfield.


Each school has selected its own group out of 178 applicants. And here is the plum: Not only does CDI provide rehearsal and performance space for several weeks, but it also helps with artists’ fees, rehearsal expenses, and marketing costs for a final performance. So this is more than a two-way convenience. It’s a big gift!


And it’s a class-leveling gift. As Lane Harwell of Dance/NYC said in Huffington Post apropos of this initiative, “How about a New York with arts and culture for everyone, 24/7, and everywhere? And I don’t mean a New York where the arts are merely consumed, but where creation, excellence and risk-taking are infinitely expanding.” So…here are some of the pairings: Maria Bauman will be at Brooklyn College, Elisa Monte at City College, the up-and-coming Malcolm Low at Hostos Community College in the Bronx, the hip-hop group Full Circle, also at Hostos (it’s their old stomping ground), the feisty women’s hip-hop group decadancetheatre at Hunter College, Michele Wiles’ Ballet Next at Kingsborough Community College, and the Trocks at Lehman College in the Bronx. Queens College will host Keigwin + Company, and John Jay College hosts Ephrat Asherie’s hip-hop group as well as the super sexy tappers, Chloe Arnold’s Syncopated Ladies.


Above: Ephrat Asherie Dance. Photo by Ian Douglas.


For the whole megillah—schedule of residencies and performances—click here. This will also tell you how to apply.