Abby Zbikowski & The New Utility at The Emelin Theater/Dance Off The Grid

Abby Zbikowski. Photo by Effy Falck

Year: 2018-2019
DanceForce Member: Ivan Sygoda
Artist: Abby Zbikowski
Community Partner: Emelin Theater, Mamaroneck NY
Audience: 124
County: Westchester

The project supported the participation of 2017 juried Bessie artist Abby Zbikowski and her New Utility dance company in the spring 2019 edition of The Emelin Theater’s annual Dance Off The Grid series in Mamaroneck, NY. Specifically, Abby and three other company members occupied the middle third of the April program. DOTG Curator Andrea Snyder summarizes and provides a mini-review: “Abby Z and the New Utility performed a 20-minute work in progress – Radioactive Practice – to resounding applause and appreciation for the dancers’ extraordinary physical abilities and the stimulating choreography. The audience was ‘wowed’ by the work. Unintentionally and serendipitously, Abby’s choreography and the company’s performance aligned with the other two artists on the program – Caleb Teicher and Malini Srinivasan – through the association of rhythm, which turned out to be the noted ‘theme’ of the evening.”

The endeavor sustains the commitment the DanceForce made several years ago to support touring beyond New York City by each year’s juried Bessie artist, selected by a rotating panel of distinguished dance-makers convened by Bessie Director Lucy Sexton. Bessie artists who have toured with Dance Force support include Pam Tanowitz, Pavel Zustiak (Palissimo), Beth Gill, Gerard & Kelly and Darrell Jones. This project continued in particular the Dance Force’s fruitful collaboration with The Emelin Theater in Westchester and with Andrea Snyder, who curates their Dance Off The Grid Series.

Each DOTG program presents three different dance artists/companies and culminates in an informal audience-performer dialogue moderated by Andrea. She has built a faithful audience for the series, one comprised mainly of adults, who have developed an appetite for the eclectic nature of the dance on display and a willingness to be surprised and even challenged by unexpected idioms. The houses (the theater seats 265) are usually gratifying—between 150-200 patrons. The participating artists appreciate the evident curiosity and attention of the public and the liveliness of the post-performance discussion. With the exception of Fall for Dance, an eclectic dance sampler of this sort is simply not to be found in New York City. It thus offers participating artists the experience of sharing their work with a truly “new” audience. They value this.