The CUNY Dance Initiative (CDI), an expansive program providing New York City choreographers and dance companies with creative residencies on CUNY campuses, announces its 10th year of supporting the dance field and the awarded artists for its 2023–24 cycle.
There is no other dance residency program of CDI’s scope in the country. Since its launch in 2014, CDI has facilitated 220 residencies at 13 CUNY colleges in all five boroughs, granted more than 11,000 hours of studio and stage time to artists; sponsored workshops and master classes for more than 5,000 students; and attracted more than 20,000 New Yorkers to performances and showings at CUNY performing arts centers. For artists, the impact of a CDI residency can be far-reaching: alumni have received Bessie Awards and Guggenheim Fellowships for work developed during residencies, and made connections that have yielded additional teaching and performance engagements.
From July 2023 to June 2024, CDI is underwriting residencies for 23 early to mid-career choreographers selected from a pool of 209 applicants. The awarded artists mirror both the city and CUNY’s cultural vibrancy. CDI supports a wide range of dance styles and forms reflecting the diversity of the awarded artists, as well as the variety of curatorial perspectives that shape the selection process. In addition to supporting rehearsals and the creative development of new and existing projects, all residencies include master classes, open rehearsals or Q&As to directly connect artists with CUNY communities.
CDI was developed not only as a lifeline to the dance sector’s ever-present need for affordable rehearsal space but also as a solution that has continued to grow since inception. Medgar Evers College, in Brooklyn’s Crown Heights neighborhood, has joined CDI and is hosting its first residency in 2023–24. In addition to working with 13 CUNY colleges, CDI also partners with three arts organizations in the boroughs: Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden (Staten Island), Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning (Queens), and Brooklyn Arts Exchange (Brooklyn). These partnerships expand CDI’s impact as it extends its resources to a new cohort of dance artists.
The 2023–24 awarded artists are Nora Alami, Les Ballet Afrik, Boogie Gang, CocoMotion / NuTribe Dance Company, Gotham Dance Theater, Orlando Hernández, Sloka Iyengar, Camille J., Enya Kalia Creations / Enya-Kalia Jordan, LayeRhythm, Kyle Marshall Choreography, Sekou McMiller and Friends, Rachna Nivas, onCUE Chronicles / Quilan Arnold, Passion Fruit Dance Company, Stephen Shynes, Hussein Smko, Christopher Williams Dances, and ZCO / DANCEPROJECT. Approximately a third of the residencies this season will culminate in public performances, including premieres by #QueertheBallet, Kizuna Dance, Amanda Selwyn Dance Theatre and A Palo Seco Flamenco. Details on public performances will be announced in the coming months.
“Hostos Center for the Arts & Culture has been a partner with CDI from the very start,” says Félix Arocho, the center’s director. “Through CDI, we have been able to host and present close to 20 extraordinary NYC choreographers and dance companies — from veteran artists to emerging ones. CDI impacts Hostos and the Bronx in ways large and small — from providing artists access to our rehearsal and performance spaces to creating new audiences for their works. CDI is transformative — it foments growth, artistic development, creativity, collaboration — unveiling incredible dancers and choreographers waiting to be nurtured and known.”
“As a flamenco company without a home studio, it can be difficult to find affordable rehearsal space due to the nature of our footwork,” notes Rebecca Thomas, artistic director and choreographer of A Palo Seco Flamenco Company. “A CDI residency gives us the ability to rehearse, create and workshop new ideas without being stressed about time, space, or any agenda other than our artistic vision. Teaching students at Queens College this past year was a perk of our residency there, and we look forward to continuing the work we created and premiering it at Hostos Center for the Arts & Culture.”
“CDI has been an incredible resource for us, exposing our students to a rich array of NYC artists and dance forms,” comments Aviva Geismar, director of the dance program at Queensborough Community College. “Our students have had transformational experiences taking master classes in dance styles that we are not able to offer as part of our curriculum. These experiences boost student confidence and have even led to ongoing professional relationships between the students and working artists.”
For more information, visit www1.cuny.edu/sites/dance-initiative.