When One Door Closes...
Cedar Lake shut down, and suddenly its dancers were thrust back into the job hunt.
Cedar Lake in Richard Siegal's My Generation. Photo by Julieta Cervantes, courtesy BAM.
The dance world lost a cherished company when Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet took its final bow at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in June. Just two months prior, its founder, Walmart heiress Nancy Laurie, announced the company’s closure, leaving its 16 members stunned and jobless. “Finding out about Cedar Lake’s final days was shocking,” says Jon Bond, who danced with the company for eight years. “I thought I would finish my career there.”
When it came to finding a new job, it seems natural that many of the dancers from Cedar Lake, a company that had become known for bringing European choreographers to the U.S., would gravitate towards companies with similar contemporary repertoire. This fall, Bond started dancing with Nederlands Dans Theater. Matthew Rich and Joseph Kudra have joined BODYTRAFFIC in Los Angeles, and Guillaume Quéau and Daphne Fernberger are at Dresden Frankfurt Dance Company (formerly The Forsythe Company).
Others are taking the time to explore less traditional routes. Ebony Williams hopes to continue working as a freelance dancer in both the concert and commercial dance worlds. Ida Saki has joined the cast of Sleep No More, under a performance schedule that will allow her to finish her degree at New York University, from which she took a leave of absence upon joining Cedar Lake. Joaquim de Santana and Vânia Doutel Vaz have joined the cast of Sleep No More, as well.
Saki was sad to see the company go, but is excited to find out where the next stage of her career will take her. “It was my dream company, so it was so surreal to be a part of it,” she says. “For now, I’m happy and growing.”
Yvonne Rainer's Parts of Some Sextets (AKA "the mattress dance") hasn't been revived since it premiered in 1965. Nor has Rainer had any wish to do it again, to ask performers to heave 10 mattresses around while carrying out 31 tasks that changed every 30 seconds. It was an unwieldy, difficult dance. (Even the title is unwieldy.) But Emily Coates, who has danced in Rainer's work for 20 years, became curious about this piece and was determined to see it again—and to dance in it. She will get her wish November 15–17, when the mattress dance will be performed as part of the Performa 19 Biennial.
Back in 2011 when Joe Lanteri first approached Katie Langan, chair of Marymount Manhattan College's dance department, about getting involved with New York City Dance Alliance, she was skeptical about the convention/competition world.
"But I was pleasantly surprised by the enormity of talent that was there," she says. "His goal was to start scholarship opportunities, and I said okay, I'm in."
Today, it's fair to say that Lanteri has far surpassed his goal of creating scholarship opportunities. But NYCDA has done so much more, bridging the gap between the convention world and the professional world by forging a wealth of partnerships with dance institutions from Marymount to The Ailey School to Complexions Contemporary Ballet and many more. There's a reason these companies and schools—some of whom otherwise may not see themselves as aligned with the convention/competition world—keep deepening their relationships with NYCDA.
Now, college scholarships are just one of many ways NYCDA has gone beyond the typical weekend-long convention experience and created life-changing opportunities for students. We rounded up some of the most notable ones:
"The show must go on" may be a platitude we use to get through everything from costume malfunctions to stormy moods. But when it came to overcoming a literal hurricane, Houston Ballet was buoyed by this mantra to go from devastated to dancing in a matter of weeks—with the help of Harlequin Floors, Houston Ballet's longstanding partner who sprang into action to build new floors in record time.