Feature Articles

CUNY Dance Initiative continues to expand and present premier work

Tap set to Bach's Variations

The CUNY Dance Initiative (CDI), a residency program offered by City University of New York, is now in its third year and has recently announced its fall 2016 public events.

CDI, a new model for collaboration, facilitates residencies for NYC choreographers and dance companies on CUNY campuses. All in one go, it supports local dance artists, enhances college students’ cultural life and education, and builds new audiences for dance at CUNY performing arts centers – which will ultimately expand audiences for dance across New York.

Residencies for NYC choreographers

CUNY Dance Initiative announces Fall 2016 Events.

Since January, 12 CUNY colleges have hosted 23 total residencies. The residency artists and their projects represented a wide range of ideas and styles that reflect the diversity of dance in NYC. The artists have engaged with the CUNY communities through open rehearsals, classes and discussions, and have presented in-progress showings, as well as premieres.

CDI Manager Alyssa Alpine told Dance Informa that the opportunities the program extends to the NYC dance community are “extremely valuable”.

She said, “In addition to providing generous-sized rehearsal spaces, residency stipends and performance fees, CDI connects artists with presenters, potential employers (i.e. dance programs looking to hire adjunct faculty), and audiences unfamiliar with the artist’s work – or even dance in general. We support both emerging and established choreographers, and a range of styles from ballet to ballroom, hip hop to post-modern dance. The challenges facing today’s generation of dance makers are substantial, and by opening the doors of CUNY colleges to local artists, CDI is creating new pathways that will help NYC’s diverse dance scene thrive.”

CUNY Dance Initiative

Dzul Dance. Photo by Adrian Buckmaster.

So far, the feedback Alpine has received from artists and CDI college partners over the past two years has been “overwhelmingly positive”. Because of this, CDI has experienced a steady expansion since its first season. 

“CDI began as an informal pilot program in 2012-13, and in just three years, we’ve grown from four CUNY campuses to 12 in all five boroughs, and from supporting eight resident choreographers/companies per year to 23. Within this structure, we’re growing as well. In 2016, we’ve been able to increase the number of performance residencies — residencies that culminate in a performance, as opposed to providing rehearsal space only — and modestly raise our base artist fee.”

CUNY Dance Initiative

Azul Dance Theatre in ‘Born Within’. Photo courtesy of CDI.

“CDI’s rapid upward trajectory has required a substantial commitment of resources (financial, facilities and staffing), and this has only been possible because our funders and our CUNY college partners recognize the impact of CDI and want to both sustain and expand this program.”

This fall, seven choreographers/companies will present world premieres. Bessie Award-winning performer Caleb Teicher will premiere his full-length Variations, set to Glenn Gould’s iconic recording of Bach’s “Goldberg Variations”. Plus, Gabrielle Lamb will present a new group work inspired by artist Soghra Khurasani’s woodblock prints; Chloe Arnold’s Apartment 33 debuts; and Dzul Dance’s new work, presented during Hispanic Heritage Month, explores the idea of ritual as a transformative experience via pre-Hispanic rites of passage. The fall season also includes premieres and performances by CDI artists Azul Dance Theatre, Lauren Cox/Humans Collective and MAWU, and showings by mwest dances, luciana achugar and Urban Bush Women. (Scroll down to see the full schedule.)

CUNY Dance Initiative

Gabrielle Lamb’s choreography for National Choreographers Initiative. Photo by David Friedman.

Alpine couldn’t choose just one project that’s she’s excited about. “I’m looking forward to all seven premieres and will be at each one!” she said. “We support artists working in a huge range of styles, and each one is of a very high caliber.” 

She added, however, “I am particularly excited that we’re presenting the premiere of Caleb Teicher’s full-length Variations, which is a fascinating take — via tap dance — on Bach’s ‘Goldberg Variations’.”

For more information on CDI, visit www.cuny.edu/danceinitiative.


Dzul Dance: Rites of Passage (world premiere)
Gerald W. Lynch Theater at John Jay College
FREE preview of excerpts: Friday, September 23, 11 am (includes Q&A)
Performance: Saturday, September 24, 8 pm 

Lauren Cox/Humans Collective: Symbioh (world premiere)
LaGuardia Performing Arts Center at LaGuardia Community College
Friday, September 23, 8 pm

Caleb Teicher & Company: Variations (world premiere)
Kupferberg Center for the Arts at Queens College
FREE preview of excerpts: Wednesday, September 28, 12:30 pm (includes Q&A)
Performance: Thursday, September 29, 7:30 pm

Chloe Arnold: Apartment 33 (world premiere)
Marian Anderson Theater at Aaron Davis Hall
City College Center for the Arts
Friday, September 30, 7:30 pm 

Hostos Center for the Arts & Culture
Hostos Community College
Repertory Theater
Friday, November 4, 7:30 pm 

Azul Dance Theatre: Vision (world premiere)
Tribeca Performing Arts Center at BMCC
FREE Contemporary Dance Improvisation Workshop: Saturday, October 29, 10 am
Performances: Friday and Saturday, November 11 and 12, 7:30 pm

Gabrielle Lamb: Untitled (world premiere)
Baruch Performing Arts Center
Friday, November 18, 7 pm 

Dance in the Making: mwest dances + luciana achugar (world premiere)
Williams Theater at the College of Staten Island
FREE Open Rehearsal: Thursday, November 3, 2:30-3:30 pm
Performance: Friday, November 18, 7:30 pm

Urban Bush Women
Baruch Performing Arts Center
FREE Work-in-progress showing: Friday, December 9, 6:30 pm

Photo (top): Caleb Teicher and dancers perform Variations. Photo by Amanda Gentile.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

To Top