Supporting Buffalo Choreographers and Dancers


Courtney Barrow and Rachel Keane. Photo by Jim Bush

Year: 2020-2021
DanceForce Member: Elaine Gardner
Artists: Naila Ansari, Megan Evans-Rakeepile, Nancy Hughes, Gaitrie Subryan
Community Partners: Buffalo City Ballet; Buffalo State College; Center Dance, Buffalo; Elmwood Festival of the Arts; Miss Barbara’s School of Dance, Buffalo
Audience: 435
County: Erie

It has been increasingly difficult for dance artists to maintain their choreographic craft, and to offer open classes, workshops, rehearsals and performances throughout the pandemic. There were several dance artists in Buffalo who continued to create and explore new avenues for teaching and creating through Zoom, at outdoor venues, maintaining social distance, wearing masks and eventually collaborating in the modified spaces with other artists.

The four dance artists that are being supported are Naila Ansari, Gaitrie Subryan, Megan A. Evans-Rakeepile and Nancy Hughes.

The four dance artists in this project found places and ways to create community opportunities for classes, rehearsals and performances. In the beginning park and public environments were used for peer discussions, performances, rehearsals, filming as well as on Zoom. There were a few community studios that under strict guidelines and under modified conditions allowed the artists to create work and meet. Miss Barbara’s School of Dance, Center Dance, Buffalo City Ballet and Buffalo State College contributed free studio space. These organizations supported the dancers’ choreographic process, video documentation and offered community classes. Some classes were free or pay what you can. These are new artistic community partnerships forged by the pandemic. The Elmwood Festival of the Arts was the original performance partner. They had performer applications and provided a modest performance stipend and an outside venue for a public performance in late August 2021. Unfortunately, the EAF had to adjust their schedule and location and some of the artists couldn’t perform as planned. Alternative projects and spaces were considered and approved as a good alternative, to take place earlier in August. Two of the four artists could accommodate the EFA schedule and site adjustment.

The four DanceForce Buffalo dance artists have been significantly supported by obtaining funding for their process. They also have become more familiar with each other through sharing dancers, offering open rehearsals and providing each other with artistic feedback. This project started in informally in outdoor meetings and Zoom conversations in the summer of 2020. As the covid restrictions for public gatherings have relaxed there have been more opportunities for the artists to meet as a collective. This group of individual artists is dedicated to helping grow a diverse supportive network within the Buffalo dance community.