DanceForce Member: Kim Engel
Artists: Brian Brooks Moving Company, KEIGWIN + COMPANY
Community Partners: Albany Academy for Girls, Dance Alliance, Holiday Inn Express, Skidmore College, UAlbany Foundation & Auxiliary Services
Kim Engel chose to direct the majority of her allocation to help create a new series at the UAlbany Performing Arts Center for the 2014-15 season. The PAC’s experimental Lab Theatre was used and adapted to create a studio setting with 101 seats. Companies in the series were invited to perform without or with minimal technical amenities. The performances were in the raw, so to speak, with performers up close and personal with the audience. The purpose of the series is to strip down production values so that the essence of the dance is brought to the forefront.
Two companies were invited to make up the inaugural series, one in the fall and the other in the spring. Brian Brooks Moving Company took the first slot, performing on November 2, 2014, while KEIGWIN + COMPANY performed on April 9, 2015. These two companies were carefully chosen, since not all choreographers are interested in showing their work in this format. There was great confidence by the venue that the aesthetic of both of these companies would resonate extremely well in this type of setting.
Working strategically, the dates were selected to be most beneficial to the artists and were made in consultation and collaboration with the staff at Hamilton College, MASS MoCA and Jacob’s Pillow. After Brian Brooks Moving Company’s performance, they spent three days on campus using the facility’s dance studio for rehearsal to prepare for a four-day residency at Hamilton College in Clinton. KEIGWIN + COMPANY’s performance at UAlbany preceded a weekend of performances in North Adams, jointly presented by MASS MoCA and Jacob’s Pillow. The Massachusetts performances were promoted by UAlbany through a full-page ad in the program, by notifying patrons of the MASS MoCA performances once the UAlbany showing was sold out and by a verbal announcement prior to curtain.
Conversation between the artists and audience was a key component in the structure of the series. Brian Brooks introduced each individual work in the program and then answered a few questions following the performance. KEIGWIN + COMPANY followed their performance with a Q&A that was moderated by company Executive Director Andrea Lodico Welshons, an Albany native. Both performances were followed by a reception in the theatre lounge so that the conversation could continue.
The opportunity for outreach into the community was offered to both companies since the UAlbany Performing Arts Center already has a developed relationship with other Capital Region educational institutions and a long history of sharing artistic resources. Brian Brooks had to decline, since uninterrupted rehearsal time and space was most desirable and critical for him and his company at that juncture. Several KEIGWIN + COMPANY dancers arrived in Albany early so that three master classes could take place at Skidmore College and one more at Albany Academy for Girls. All of the master classes were coordinated with the assistance of the UAlbany Performing Arts Center, but financial arrangements and compensation were strictly between the company and the academic institution.
Marketing for the series was at minimal cost since the 101 available seats for each performance sold very quickly. An ad trade was facilitated with The Egg and the donated space was used to promote the two performances. A flyer for the series was inserted into the Dance Alliance’s fall member mailing.
The UAlbany Performing Arts Center has committed to presenting this series for the next several years and took on the expense of purchasing a special dance floor specifically designed for this space. Plans are already well underway for the series for 2015-16 without any commitment of DanceForce funds. Kate Weare Company and ZviDance have accepted invitations to participate.
In addition to the showings, it is anticipated that each company will give at least two master classes in the community, most likely at other Capital Region educational institutions like Skidmore, Siena, Sage and Emma Willard, where there is already a developed relationship and history of sharing artistic resources.
For the artists, these performances and master classes will help them develop an audience for their work in the Capital Region with the anticipation that they will be invited to return at a later date for a performance with full production values at this or another venue. For audiences, the series will provide an intimate means to experience these companies without “theatrical magic”, allowing them to view dance in its rawest form.