By Laura Di Orio.
Exciting new dance companies are springing up across the country! As artists it’s important for us to be informed about these new companies and to support the creation of new initiatives. Here are a few to note:
Angella Foster, Artistic Director
The artists of Alight Dance Theater consider themselves, above all, storytellers. The company, led by Angella Foster, commits to creating emotive work that resonates with the audience. Along the way, Alight doesn’t stress about being purists of movement vocabularies. “If biting your index finger tells the story, we’ll do it,” Foster says, “but, if the moment needs a triple turn and some crazy backflip trick, we’re not shy about busting out the flashy stuff.”
The company focuses heavily on its community and wishes to be part of a “dance local movement”. Alight offers several free performances every year and tends to seek out locally-based choreographers. “In a world where most local papers are owned by international conglomerates, we believe that our commitment to serving in our community and making art in, for and sometimes about this place sets us apart,” Foster says.
Recent excitement? A new site-specific work in celebration of the 75th anniversary of Alight’s home of Greenbelt, Maryland, in 2012. Check out the company at www.alightdancetheater.org.
Billy Bell’s Lunge Dance Collective (circa March 2010), New York
Billy Bell, Creator/Choreographer
Lunge Dance Collective is a dance ensemble comprised of up-and-coming artists, in addition to already established performers. Billy Bell, former So You Think You Can Dance contestant and LDC’s founder and current sole choreographer, aims to create not just a dance performance, but instead wishes to be known for “experiential” or “logical” dance. The son of a general contractor, Bell is inspired by logic and history and often builds dances centered around the idea of architecture.
Since its formation, LDC has performed in NYC, Los Angeles, Boca Raton, FL, and Guelph, ON.
LDC’s dancers are pulled together on a per project basis to suit the company’s needs and location. While many of the performers are Bell’s friends and colleagues, LDC also accepts online auditions and hopes to soon hold an open call. Bell says he wants to give exposure and experience to on-the-rise dancers and hopes that LDC will become “an established springboard for professional careers in dance.”
Recent excitement? A best-of performance on September 30, 2011, at NYC’s Symphony Space. For more on the company, check out www.lungedance.com.
CONTINUUM Contemporary/Ballet (circa 2010), New York
Donna Salgado, Creator/Choreographer
CONTINUUM Contemporary/Ballet is comprised of classically-trained dancers who respect ballet’s traditions but are interested in exploring their more contemporary artistic voice. “We know that ballet vocabulary has an undeniable movement potential,” says Donna Salgado, CONTINUUM’s founder, “but we seek beauty in the distortion and the improvisation.”
Salgado says she’s largely inspired by her fellow New York dancers, people who are talented, tremendous risk takers and are eager to create art. She finds most of her dancers through word of mouth. “We are looking for creative dancing artists who have emotional maturity, life experience and education,” Salgado says. “We are looking for people who can really work in the studio.”
Recent excitement? CONTINUUM just got back from Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, where they performed on the Inside/Out Stage. To learn more, go to www.continuumcontemporaryballet.org.
Indelible Dance (circa November 2009), New York
Robin Cantrell, Creator/Choreographer
The word ‘indelible’ means “not able to be forgotten or removed”, and Indelible Dance is a contemporary ballet company that focuses strongly on the Internet and technology. Indelible’s founder, Robin Cantrell, says the company aims to “create work with the awareness that the Internet exists and that it is an integral part of experiencing art.” Cantrell generally leads the choreographic process but remains open to collaborations with the dancers.
Indelible has performed in some untraditional settings – in the subway, in Cantrell’s bedroom, on rooftops, under the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. “We aim to present one full-length live show per year,” Cantrell says. “We build the audience for our live shows by first building a fan base online. Videos are short, high-quality and creative. A clever meme will be viewed by tens of thousands of individuals.”
Recent excitement? Indelible performed its second evening-length program, featuring eight live musicians, eight dancers and 16 pieces, on September 2-3, 2011, at Triskelion Arts in Brooklyn. Find out more at indelibledance.com.
Sarah Konner and Austin Selden Dance Collaboration (circa 2010); Philadelphia, PA
Sarah Konner and Austin Selden, Creators/Choreographers
Sarah Konner and Austin Selden Dance Collaboration is a company best described by one of its founders, Austin Selden, as the “dark romantic comedy of dance theater”. Many of the duo’s choreographic collaborations include vocals and elements of humor and often tell stories of romantic relationships between man and woman.
“I’ve been drawn to narrative, dark, romantically tragic themes and images from my childhood,” Selden says. The choreographers, both graduates from the University of Michigan, tend to use dancers who are friends or colleagues in their work, as they usually have ideas of specific people for specific parts.
Recent excitement? A new evening of work to be shown at Triskelion Arts in Brooklyn, NY, in February 2012. For more, check them out at www.facebook.com/SarahandAustin.
Spark(edIt) Arts (circa 2010); Brooklyn, NY
Nadia Tykulsker, Creator/Choreographer
Spark(edIt) Arts is a company of artists of multiple mediums – dancers, musicians, poets, animators, visual artists, film-makers – who come together to generate dance-theater works that aim to question social constructs. “We are captivated by physical form – interested in what humans expose through movement,” says Nadia Tykulsker, Spark(edIt)’s founder. “We work with visual, auditory and sensory artists to offer the opportunity to experience the spectrum of human emotions.”
Since Tykulsker is influenced by a number of dance styles – hip-hop, house, breaking, West African and classical modern – she says the best way to describe the company is with the adjectives: “athletic, sassy, bold, unexpected, hip, provocative, urgent, dynamic and colorful.” With an expansive style and diverse pool of artists, Spark(edIt) hopes to question how and where dance can be viewed and, in turn, make dance more accessible to a wide range of audiences.
Recent excitement? An upcoming “unconventional” collaboration with photographer Deneka Peniston and colored smoke! To learn more, check out www.facebook.com/sparkedit.
WalkingTalking/Catherine Miller (circa summer 2010); Brooklyn, NY
Catherine Miller, Creator/Choreographer
WalkingTalking/Catherine Miller is a project-to-project dance and performance company that explores and creates dance, theater and hybrid work. “Using any means available from complicated theatrics to the fundamentals of walking and talking,” says Miller, “I choose to make work because I believe in the power to transform lives, inspire change and spark revolution on emotional, social and global scales.”
Miller, who received her BFA from the North Carolina School of the Arts, is WalkingTalking’s sole choreographer, but she says she relies heavily on her dancers’ input during the process. “There is always an underlying physicality and reverence for motion in my work,” she says. “The partnering is physical and raw – very influenced by my studies in contact improvisation and puts equal emphasis on the women and the men.”
Recent excitement? A new evening-length piece in collaboration with the design firm, Harrison Atelier, is in the works.
Zehnder Dance (circa 2010), New York
Sarah Zehnder, Creator/Choreographer
Zehnder Dance is an all-female modern dance company whose repertoire is based on hip-hop and modern aesthetics. The company’s founder, Sarah Zehnder, a self-taught hip-hop dancer, says the work of Zehnder Dance aims at “pushing the boundaries of traditional partnering and challenging what constitutes power onstage.”
Zehnder’s work is very physical and athletic. Her dancers lift each other, throw one another and push and pull one another – actions that Zehnder says are not often seen by women every day. “My work represents women in various aspects of life, the struggles we go through and the strength we have to endure all of life’s pain,” she says.
Recent excitement? Zehnder Dance will perform on September 24, 2011, as part of the Dumbo Dance Festival in Brooklyn, NY. Visit www.zehnderdance.com for more information about the company.
Top photo: Indelible Dance. Photo by Jacob Pritchard