DanceForce Member: Ivan Sygoda
Artists: Beth Gill, Jim Self, Pam Tanowitz, Adam Weinert
Community Partners: Emelin Theater, Mamaroneck, NY
In recent years, Sygoda has been able to establish an ongoing and productive collaborative partnership with Andrea Snyder, who curates the annual Dance Off The Grid (DOTG) series at the Emelin Theater in Mamaroneck (Westchester County), NY. Although it is only 40 minutes from Grand Central Station on Metro North, Westchester County is considered to be underserved as a dance community. Logistically and financially, the one-day weekend run-out fits easily into most companies’ schedules and efficiently into the budget for that week’s activities, even if primarily company rehearsal. As a result, a number of artists of interest to the DanceForce have been able to show meaningful excerpts of current company work in front of an appreciative new audience. A win-win situation.
In the spring of 2018, circumstances and opportunities allowed the DanceForce to help shape two of the Emelin’s three DOTG programs. The March 4 program showcased three artists/companies whose work had been advanced with previous DanceForce support; Jim Self, himself a DanceForce member from Ithaca; Adam Weinert, based in Hudson, who had made an effective presentation at the previous Winter DanceForce meeting, which Snyder had attended; and The Bang Group, a NYC-based troupe popular with DanceForce members. The evening’s concert program highlighted the role of the DanceForce in the state’s dance ecology, and member Sygoda introduced the evening’s program.
The April 21 program featured three artists who had been singled out for honors by the New York Dance and Performance Awards (“the Bessies”)—the current juried Bessie awardee Pam Tanowitz; the very first juried Bessie artist, Beth Gill, who had not yet benefitted from DanceForce support, having been designated before our initiative was inaugurated; and Eiko Otake, honored with a special citation for her work on the 2016 Danspace Platform, which focused on her solo work. Again, a program note flagged the history and importance of the Bessies. Bessies Associate Director Heather Robles introduced the April program on behalf of Lucy Sexton. It night be noted that the March program spotlighted male creativity in dance and the April program female creativity. We did not make a big deal out of this distinction.
The Dance Off The Grid series has, over the years of its existence, built for itself an appreciative local attendees—eager to experience the aesthetic variety of the work presented on each program. The audience, which skews older compared to NYC “downtown” audiences, is rarely at capacity, but dresses the intimate house comfortably. A majority of each program’s ticket buyers usually stays for the post-performance Q&A facilitated genially by Snyder. Considering how relatively unschooled the audience supposedly is concerning new and unfamiliar kinds of dance, their questions are invariably perceptive and interesting. Importantly for the DanceForce, the participating artists feel appreciated and supported. They are consistently happy they accepted the gig.