Meet Petra Gucunski, founder and director of Continuum Dance Co., a company dedicated to bringing the joy of dance to the corporate workforce. We asked Gucunski a few questions about Continuum and where the company is headed. Check out her responses below!
What gave you the idea for Continuum Dance Co. and what are its founding principles?
“After graduating college, I had to make a tough decision — pursue dance or take a corporate job. It never crossed my mind that I could do both, and I took a job in global marketing, hanging up my jazz shoes with a tinge of sadness, but believing I was doing what I needed to do.
After two years of corporate work, I was really missing dance and felt unfulfilled. Drop-in classes didn’t provide enough of a sense of a community. I craved connection with other dancers and choreographers and wanted to feel like I was part of something bigger than myself. I knew a few other dancers in a similar situation. That’s when the idea for Continuum was born — an outlet for creativity and physicality amidst the 9-5 grind.
I founded the company in January of 2018, with the mission of providing dancers who work full-time with opportunities to choreograph and perform. I was and still am passionate about bringing dancers back into the studio, and enabling them to pursue something that makes them happy and fulfilled.”
What’s your favorite thing about the company?
“Community. The first season we had 15 dancers, all people I had danced with at one point or another in my life and had recruited for the company myself. Since then, we have gained lots of new members; 42 dancers performed in our last showcase. Some are friends of other company members while others are dancers who stumbled upon our audition form on Eventbrite. Weekly rehearsals and our biannual showcases allow everyone to develop a particular kind of bond that can only emerge from the act of creating something special together.”
Can you tell us about the business model? Do you hold auditions? Do dancers pay to participate? Where do you rehearse? Is there a maximum number of dancers who can participate?
“The season kicks off with auditions held by choreographers who have submitted a proposal and been selected. Each choreographer can select up to 16 dancers for their piece, and dancers pay $40/month per piece. Fees go to rehearsal space and theater rental for shows. Because we do not have the funds to pay choreographers, they are invited to participate in as many pieces as they want at no cost. Over the course of our four-month season, we have weekday rehearsals in Manhattan and weekend rehearsals in Jersey City.
We hold our performances at Union County Performing Arts Center in Rahway, NJ, where we are in residency. In addition to performances by our own company, we bring in guest performers to bring variety to the show lineup and attention to local artists.”
What has been the biggest challenge running the company?
“The juggling. I’m still working full-time, which takes up a huge chunk of my day. There’s not enough time in a day to do everything I want to. Finding balance has been tricky, but I’m passionate enough about the company to not mind losing a few hours of sleep in bringing my vision to life.”
What do you envision for the future of Continuum Dance Co.?
“My short-term goal is to have another rehearsal space in central NJ. Lots of our dancers live down the Jersey Shore, and trekking all the way to Jersey City or Manhattan is tough for them. The long-term goal is definitely to have sister companies across the United States. Boston and somewhere in California are the first places that come to mind. There’s nothing more meaningful to me than spreading the joy of dance to the largest number of people possible.”
For more information on Continuum Dance Co., visit www.continuumdanceco.com.
By Charly Santagado of Dance Informa.