For over a decade, husband-and-wife team Pascal Rioult and Joyce Herring, artistic and associate artistic directors of RIOULT Dance NY, dreamed of building a space for their company and fellow artists in the community, and a school for future dancers. This month, their 11,000-square-foot dream opens its doors in the Kaufman Arts District in Astoria, Queens, a New York City neighborhood across the East River from Manhattan.
In an area where many dancers and artists already live thanks to lower-than-Manhattan rents, RIOULT Dance Center could become an affordable hub for professional dancers to take class and rent studio and performance space. It is not the first such dance center to arrive in Queens in recent years: Jessica Lang opened her eponymous center in nearby Long Island City in 2016.
Members of RIOULT explore the Dance Center during construction. Photo by Penelope Gonzalez, Courtesy RIOULT
The RIOULT Dance School will have classes for toddlers through adults, rooted in the modern dance traditions of Limón, Graham, Horton and May O'Donnell. "I believe the essence of American modern dance trains a true performer and we want to keep it going," says Rioult. Ballet, creative movement and hip hop will supplement the modern techniques, and styles like flamenco, African, Afro-Caribbean and Masala Bhangra will mirror the culturally diverse Queens community. RIOULT hopes to eventually launch a fast-track pre-professional conservatory program.
An architectural rendering of one of the studios at RIOULT Dance Center. Photo by Architecture Outfit, Courtesy RIOULT
The new space houses five studios, one of which transforms into a 100-seat black-box theater. "For nearly 25 years, my company didn't have a sense of home. We were nomads always schlepping from one place to another on the subway," says Rioult. "Now we are very excited to welcome others into our home."