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DANCE NOW offers a virtual tour through the past, present and future

Tsiambwom M Akuchu. Photo by Yi-Chun Wu.
Tsiambwom M Akuchu. Photo by Yi-Chun Wu.

DANCE NOW celebrates its 25th anniversary with the DANCE NOW STORY, a reimagined festival composed of a series of online events featuring more than 40 artists. Traditionally held each year immediately after Labor Day, the DANCE NOW Festival is known as the kick-off to the dance season in New York City. In lieu of the live festival at Joe’s Pub this season, DANCE NOW is creating an alternative virtual space to celebrate its artists and this landmark anniversary. 

Launching in September 2020, and running through May 2021, the DANCE NOW STORY will be a virtual tour featuring 40-plus artists in 12 digital events that will include the presentation of new digital commissions and archival works, revelations about artists’ creative processes and interactive artist-to-audience celebrations. Each monthly chapter will bring new, emerging and longtime veterans of the festival together to honor DANCE NOW’s past, embrace the present and explore future possibilities for DANCE NOW’s community of artists and audiences. 

Orlando Hernández. Photo by Yi-Chun Wu.
Orlando Hernández. Photo by Yi-Chun Wu.

“Our 25th anniversary celebrates the boundless imaginations of dance innovators who are part of the DANCE NOW community – past and present,” said Executive Artistic Director and Producer Robin Staff. “In these challenging times, we feel it is especially important to continue to provide artists with greatly needed paid creative opportunities and audiences an up-close-and-personal cultural experience. COVID-19 has shifted our programming but not our vision. As we move into the next decade, we will continue to embrace the untraditional, untried and unknown while working to expand resources for artists and making dance accessible to all. That has been the foundation of both my personal goals and of this organization for 25 years.”

The anniversary season will feature premieres of 19 digital commissions. Remaining true to the DANCE NOW Challenge that asks artists to create a complete artistic statement in five minutes or less for the tiny stage at Joe’s Pub, this year’s artists have been asked to make short works within 165 square feet of space (roughly the dimensions of the Pub’s stage). Alongside these new pieces will be 18 beloved works from the festival archives, including past works from six DANCE NOW veterans – Robert Battle, Jane Comfort, Satoshi Haga, David Parker, Claire Porter and Gus Solomons Jr. – who will be honored at the artist-to-audience celebrations. These Zoom celebrations, complete with a cocktail/mocktail recipe, will each be hosted by a different artist to engage attendees in conversation, recreating the intimate and lively environment of Joe’s Pub via DANCE NOW’s new web platform. 

The virtual series will also include an interactive timeline featuring photos, interviews and additional facets of the DANCE NOW STORY. DANCE NOW is working toward a fully accessible site, with alt text, closed captioning and audio description, and ASL as necessary for the pieces it will be presenting. 

Claire Porter. Photo by Yi-Chun Wu.
Claire Porter. Photo by Yi-Chun Wu.

The September Chapter (release: September 10, at 12pm) will feature commissioned works by Ayodele Casel, Mike Esperanza and LMnO3. The October Chapter (release: October 8, at 12pm) will include works by Jamal Jackson, Katy Pyle and Nicole Wolcott. The November Chapter (release: November 12, at 12pm) will feature pieces by Orlando Hernandez, Mariana Valencia and Nicole Vaughan-Diaz). The February Chapter (release: February 11, 2021, at 12pm) will feature works by Kate Ladenheim, Alice Sheppard, Subject: Matter and Maleek Washington. The March Chapter (release: March 11, 2021, at 12pm) will include works by Tsiambwom M. Akuchu, Brendan Drake and Jasmine Hearn. And the May Chapter (release: May 6, 2021, at 12pm) will feature pieces by Sarah Chien, Kayla Farrish and Joshua L. Peugh. 

Each monthly chapter will be released at 12pm ET on the designated event date and will remain online through May 31, 2021. Audience Celebrations start on Zoom at 7pm. Several ticket packages, ranging from $10 to $100 will be available starting August 10. Proceeds from ticket sales support future artist commissions. Artists creating, performing, collaborating and teaching in the 25th Anniversary Season programming will have access to all events for free. 

Detailed program information for the fall will be available in August. Winter/spring program information will be available in January 2021. 

For more information, visit www.dancenownyc.org

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