Home at Last: RIOULT Dance NY Opens a New Center in Queens
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."
It's a cycle familiar to many: First, a striking image of a lithe, impossibly fit dancer executing a gravity-defying développé catches your eye on Instagram. You pause your scrolling to marvel, over and over again, at her textbook physique.
Inevitably, you take a moment to consider your own body, in comparison. Doubt and negative self-talk first creep, and then flood, in. "I'll never look like that," the voice inside your head whispers. You continue scrolling, but the image has done its dirty work—a gnawing sensation has taken hold, continually reminding you that your own body is inferior, less-than, unworthy.
It's no stretch to say that social media has a huge effect on body image. For dancers—most of whom already have a laser-focus on their appearance—the images they see on Instagram can seem to exacerbate ever-present issues. "Social media is just another trigger," says Nadine Kaslow, a psychologist who works with the dancers of Atlanta Ballet. "And dancers don't need another trigger." In the age of Photoshop and filters, how can dancers keep body dysmorphia at bay?
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.