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New York Theatre: 10th Anniversary of Dance Gallery Festival: Best of Festival

Noblemotion: Storm Front. Photo by Lynn Lane

10th Anniversary of Dance Gallery Festival: Best of Festival
Manhattan Movement and Arts Center, New York.
Nov 11, 2016

On multiple media lists for performance invitations from around North America, it is rare that I find myself in a city on the same night for which I have an invitation. Despite my lifelong love of different forms of dance, both doing and watching, reviewing contemporary dance is way outside my comfort zone.

Nicole von arx dance. Photo by Whitney Browne PhotographySo when I realized that my one free night in New York this trip coincided with the Dance Gallery Festival's Best of Festival gala night at the Manhattan Movement and Arts Center, I decided that this opportunity to see contemporary dance performances from a variety of choreographers and learn something, was not to be missed.

The Dance Gallery Festival was started in 2007 by Astrid von Ussar, cofounder and artistic director to foster new dance and choreographic talent and support emerging dance companies. The Dance Gallery Festival has its roots in what may seem a familiar situation to theatre artists as well as dancers and other performers. Ten years ago von Ussar had reserved a venue for a performance but could not come up with the funds to pay for the space. Funding creative works is a universal problem for companies, and von Ussar solved her dilemma in a creative way. She put out a call to fellow artists to submit their own work for a group show to share the costs  of the space. She got 25 applications and The Dance Gallery was born.

Ten years and many shows later, the Dance Gallery celebrated its 10th Anniversary weekend, and the "Best of 10 Show and Gala" was what we were there to see. 

After an early dinner at Estiatoria Milos a twenty minute walk away, we arrived at the Center just in time for the show. There were 7 separate and very different pieces:

Disgelo- solar, featuring dancers Elisabetta Minutoli and choreographer Estenzo Celli presented a simple story of a strange and unusual love.

Hero studies from Sidra Bell Dance New York with 6 dancers, was a longer and more complex piece. I didn’t understand the accompanying narration and while I admired the physicality of the piece I’m not sure what it was about.

A Caretaker’s Vow danced by Demetia Hopkins-Greene and choreographer Marcus Jarrell Willis.

Coyotes Tip-toe choreographed by Joshua L Peugh with dancers Cody Berkeley & Chadi El-khoury was one of my favourite pieces as much for the music as for the dancing.

Celebration (Edit 2016)  from Manuel Vignoulle – M/motions featured Vignoulle and two other dancers.

“Bewilderness” (excerpts from a work in progress) choreographed by Gabrielle Lamb for 6 dancers.

Flash Burn from NobleMotion Dance choreographed by Andy Noble with eleven dancers, incorporating lighting to great effect, was another favourite piece.

Overall I appreciated the energy, passion and incredible physicality of these dancers, and found it interesting to see the different visions manifested by the choreographers.