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An Immersive Dance Experience

A work by Caterina Rago (photo credit: Federica Dall’Orso)

At Steffi Nossen Dance Company’s Choreography Showcase this year, the dancers won’t be the only ones on the move. Guests will travel, one room at a time, in small groups of 25.  In each space, they will observe one of six new dance works by professional choreographers. 

This format allows for an observance of COVID-19 protocols by keeping the event at limited capacity, yet offers a more intimate, immersive experience overall. 

Says Community Relations Director Judith Ross: “To experience dance in an immersive setting allows the audience to have a multi-layered view of the live performance, and the artwork that serves as a wonderful backdrop.”

The artwork Ross references is that of an exhibition presented by Bethany Arts Community (BAC), where the event takes place.  BAC’s Executive Director Abigail Lewis says that the exhibition, on view December 3-20, displays “works from the BAC family – the artists and community members who put the ‘community’ in [their] name.” After the Choreography Showcase, guests can gather to engage with the choreographers and dancers, and explore more of BAC’s spacious grounds and public artworks.

Says Ross: “The event was created out of the desire to continue our collaborations with other arts organizations and nonprofits…and also to expand our community’s awareness of other forms of art in the County.”

For more than forty years, this event has brought together professional choreographers and pre-professional dancers with a goal of highlighting new works for its audiences. Executive Director Shelley Grantham says that this year’s Showcase on December 4 is also “focused on re-engaging the arts and bringing the arts community together for live performances.”

Of the dance selections being showcased, Ross says: “We hand-selected the choreographers based on their previous work or their experience working with our company dancers. 

Hannah Garner, who was recently named one of ’25 to Watch’ by Dance Magazine, was commissioned to create new work on the Steffi Nossen Dance Company (SNDC), which will premiere at the event. Meanwhile, Caterina Rago, a former member of the Martha Graham Dance Company, will present an excerpt from her Labir Into, which originated from a previous commission that she choreographed on the SNDC. 

Ross adds: “We also were mindful to pick people who we felt presented works in which the subject matter was of value and importance in this time.”

For example, Steffi Nossen’s Artistic Director Jessica DiMauro reworked a dance created 20 years ago to now reflect the current world. In Love, Kisses and Such…, DiMauro’s solo “reveals the physical experience of emotional neglect through the lens of this unique time in human history.” Olivia Passarelli and Sophie Gray-Gaillard will show their work Tide, which explores the complexities of relationships, intimacy and commitment. 

Choreographer Gierre Godley created a new work for his company, Project 44. The duet, ON TRUST, is an excerpt from a larger triptych of works called Dear Black Boy. Godley says that the work “speak[s] to the ideas of building trust with self, with your community and others that look like you, and those who don’t.” The Dear Black Boy triptych originated from a dance that Godley presented at last year’s Choreography Showcase. 

The last stop on the choreographic tour will be a swing duet accompanied by a live jazz quartet. The collaborative work, Theory of Balance, brought together choreographer Spencer Pond and the band “loser cruiser,” who will play live during the performance. 

A version of this article first appeared in the December 2021-January 2022 issue of ArtsNews, ArtsWestchester’s monthly publication. ArtsNews is distributed throughout Westchester County. A digital copy is also available at artsw.org/artsnews.​​​​