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Thumbnail Drew Jacoby for Fall for Dance

An Inside Look at Fall for Dance 2011 at NY City Center

Fall For Dance Poster Image featuring Drew Jacoby | Photo Credit Lois Greenfield

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]his year, tickets to the 8th annual Fall For Dance Festival at the newly renovated New York City Center sold out in four hours. Audiences are ready to see dance.

Whether they are avid arts-goers or first-timers to the theater, this week houses will fill as lucky ticket holders are presented with five diverse programs of companies from around the globe. To prepare for the Fall for Dance Festival (and our extensive coverage of it here at DancePulp) I interviewed Executive Director and CEO of City Center, Arlene Shuler and Stanford Makishi, Artistic Advisor for Fall For Dance this year. The curation of a ten-day event of this magnitude is a lengthy and meticulous process requiring much discussion, logistics, audience consideration, and above all, dedication to bringing excellent work to the public at a low cost. After eight years of presentation and feedback, one thing remains certain: Fall For Dance aims to cultivate new audiences for dance. “Soon after I came to New York City Center about 8 years ago, I thought it was important to develop new programming; but something rooted in our history. We are the home of New York City Ballet, and almost every major dance company has performed here,” Shuler says. She had the idea for the Festival based on her own postive experience with public programming: “The first Fall For Dance Festival was loosely based on the New York Dance Festival in Central Park. I would see new companies there and love them and go see them again.”

[quote_left author=”Arlene Shuler, President and CEO New York City Center”]
Our primary goal is to build new audiences. Arts and dance audiences are getting older. There is a need for a new generation of viewers.
[/quote_left]

And although many dance fanatics and company hopefuls will undoubtedly fill seats, Shuler’s focus is on those who will be introduced to something brand new. She explains, “Our primary goal is to build new audiences. Arts and dance audiences are getting older. There is a need for a new generation of viewers.” There are also those who see dance, but only see one genre, and the Festival provides an opportunity for this scenario too: “They may have seen NYCB or Alvin Ailey but they may not know a downtown company. When they see someone new they like at Fall For Dance they get excited, and then they go see them again” she notes. Of course a vested interest in dance is not crucial because the $10.00 ticket price makes attendance a no-brainer for most. It is less than a movie ticket. It surprised and impressed me that with massive arts budget cuts and hard financial times for all non-profits, NYCC does not plan on raising the price. Shuler says if it ever goes up, it won’t be by much. To learn more about audience members, FFD surveys them each year, and they get “consistent data every time.”

Shuler tells me, “20% of the viewers are brand new to dance or they go to dance less than once a year. 40%-45% say that after Fall For Dance, they go see more dance or the same companies they were introduced to. We are achieving our goals.” Overwhelmingly so. DancePulp was there to film long lines for ticket buyers who didn’t want to risk it online. FFD was so conscientious of the website’s traffic that they set up a virtual waiting room for visitors to take a number to purchase online tickets.

[basic_list]

    Find our Fall for Dance Festival 2011 reviews here.

      [/basic_list]

      Stanford Makishi, former Executive Director of Baryshnikov Arts Center acts as the Artistic Advisor for the curation of the Festival, alongside numerous other dance experts including Wendy Perron of Dance Magazine. Together, their diverse but highly experienced background in dance allows them to look at companies from all angles. Makishi sees his advisory position as the highest vote of confidence: “My first encounters with this festival were as an eager audience member, so I’m somewhat surprised and hugely honored to be involved in this year’s programming.” About this year’s presented companies he says, “[They] were selected as having something important to say – about contemporary choreography, or aesthetics, or cultural tradition, or classicism, or performance itself.  The process involves open discussion among the members of a small panel, on which I sit, and each company is chosen by consensus.  But that doesn’t at all mean that there isn’t disagreement from time to time, for we all come from different backgrounds, and we all have very strong opinions.” In curating each of the five evenings, much of the program is about logistics of company travel, but as Makishi points out, “there are many factors to consider when choosing the right mix.  In our discussions, we talked about qualities such as scale, dynamics, mood, and artistic sensibility as we moved things around until everything felt right to us.”

      [quote_right author=”Stanford Makishi, Artistic Advisor Fall For Dance”]

      Companies were selected as having something important to say – about contemporary choreography, or aesthetics, or cultural tradition, or classicism, or performance itself.

      [/quote_right]

      Arlene Shuler says, “We want the downtown dance community, we look abroad for companies, we look for people who haven’t performed here before. We start with a program of core companies we know we have to have (Alvin Ailey is the resident company) but then we fill it in. We want a wide variety and work that is excellent. As we begin to get companies, we look to see what’s missing. We take a long time curating the Festival.”

      What they have come up with is a group of 20 companies. New York represents, with more than half the artists performing on their home turf. Not only are ballet and modern dance represented but also contemporary ballet, hip-hop, tap, flamenco, gaga, chinese cultural influence, cuban dance, dance theater and post-modern work. Here is the lineup:

      Mark Morris Dance GroupAll Fours, Mark Morris
      Lil BuckThe Swan, Lil Buck
      Trisha Brown Dance CompanyRogues, Trisha Brown
      The Joffrey BalletWoven Dreams, Edwaard Liang
      Vertigo Dance CompanyMana (adapted for Fall for Dance), Noa Wertheim
      Drew JacobyBloom, Andrea Miller, Artistic Director of Gallim Dance
      Jessica Lang DanceAmong the Stars, Jessica Lang
      Richard Alston Dance CompanyRoughcut, Richard Alston
      The Australian BalletGemini, Glen Tetley
      Steven McRae, Principal Dancer of The Royal Ballet, London, Something Different, Steven McRae
      Pontus Lidberg DanceFaune, Pontus Lidberg
      Hubbard Street Dance ChicagoTHREE TO MAX, Ohad Naharin
      TAO Dance TheaterWeight x 3 (adapted for Fall for Dance), Tao Ye
      CCN de Créteil et du Val-de-Marne / Compagnie KäfigAgwa, Mourad Merzouki
      Royal Ballet of FlandersThe Return of Ulysses (adapted for Fall for Dance), Christian Spuck
      Lizt Alfonso Dance CubaPa’ Cuba me voy, Lizt Alfonso
      Maurice ChestnutFloating, Maurice Chestnut
      New York City BalletPolyphonia, Christopher Wheeldon
      Liz Gerring Dance CompanyLichtung/Clearing (adapted for Fall for Dance), Liz Gerring
      Alvin Ailey American Dance TheaterFesta Barocca, Mauro Bigonzetti

      With this year’s major renovation of the City Center revealed in the same week as the opening of Fall For Dance, I assumed the high stress levels surrounding Shuler and her staff. But she expressed only excitement for the upcoming week: “There is never just one rewarding moment in the Festival. I love our audiences. I love their openness, their willingness to come and see–Some of it is weird, some different, some is well-known. They greet it all with such enthusiasm, and this is really fulfilling. It bodes well for the future of dance.”

      Fall For Dance Festival takes place at New York City Center Oct 27 – Nov 6. Watch for continuing DancePulp coverage on DancePulp’s Blog
      * Fall For Dance Poster Image featuring Drew Jacoby | Photo Credit Lois Greenfield

      Post by Emeri Fetzer

      Emeri is Managing Editor of DancePulp.com and a full–time freelance performer. Emeri most recently danced in Punchdrunk's 'Sleep No More' NYC and in original choreography for PITH Dance. Originally from Salt Lake City, Utah, with BA’s in Dance Choreography and English from Goucher College, Emeri loves to marry writing with a strong passion for movement. She is also a regular contributor for Theater Development Fund's online magazine TDF Stages.

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