Kaatsbaan UpStream Residency: Project 44

Project 44 - Photo by Jaqi Medlock
Project 44. Photo by Jaqi Medlock

Year: 2014-2015
DanceForce Member: Gregory Cary
Artists: Project 44 (dir. Gierre Godley)
Community Partners: Daytop Services; Hyde Park Public Schools
Audience: 262
County: Dutchess

The ‘Kaatsbaan UpStream Residency: Project 44’ Project had a goal to expand dance outreach for youth, children and teens primarily from under-served areas and residents of restricted situations in the Mid-Hudson Valley. Residents in the Highland Residential Center, residents of Daytop Services, and public school students were the target participants. A full concert performance by Project 44 for the general public was also scheduled.

Project 44 was chosen to interact with the participants because they are a highly professional, racially diverse dance company that understands and reaches a young contemporary minded audience. The company consists of dancers with diverse body types. Also, the company previously received the UpStream Award and completed two successful residencies at Kaatsbaan.

Advance planning with public schools included specific curriculum guidelines about dance and advanced instruction from teachers covering appropriate behavior in public theaters. Additional planned activities were creative work time for the company, 4 days of workshops at Highland Residential Center with a participant’s performance on the 5th day, on-site performances public school students, and the final public performance. Promotional activities were limited to marketing of the final public performance.

Highland Residential Center, a New York State correctional facility, was a new community partner in this program. Daytop Services and Hyde Park Schools are ongoing partners with a changing resident and student audience. The project focused on reaching new and under-served populations especially the restricted residents of the Highland Center.

Project 44 arrived at Kaatsbaan on October 29 and immediately proceeded with company class, the creation of new work, and rehearsals over the next 5 days with only a half day break. They worked efficiently and their residency work time was highly productive. On day 6, a three day workshop with 15 residents of Daytop Services began in lieu of the scheduled workshop with Highland Residential Center. The workshops were movement and composition classes for students with no formal dance training or experience in theater dance. The students were very energetic and focused at each session. Sessions were 3 hours in length. On the final day students presented composition ideas in house for each other.

Day 9 of the Project 44 residency was devoted to performances for local public school students and technical rehearsal for their final public performance. 115 elementary school students and 10 teachers were bussed into Kaatsbaan for a 1 hour lecture demonstration and performance by the company. The Kaatsbaan theater was set up like a working dance studio as the students arrived and the students were given a brief explanation of how dance creation starts in a studio. Theater lights were later used for the performance of dances, edited for this age group, to demonstrate a more theatrical experience. After returning to their schools all students wrote a short description of their experience.

A final performance for the general public concluded the residency on Saturday evening, day 10. In addition to regular priced tickets, special $5 tickets were offered to local residents through the Tivoli Free Library as a benefit for the library and an incentive to attract local and economically under-served audiences to Kaatsbaan. The library sold 19 tickets. Residents of Daytop Services also attended the final performance.