City Dance restructures - performing at Velocity this weekend!
I sat down with Executive Director Alexe Nowakowski and award winning choreographer Christopher Morgan to discuss the recent changes at City Dance. Former director Paul Emerson has left the organization after eleven years at the helm to start a new dance group. City Dance is now partnering with Morgan and his new company Christopher K. Morgan & Artists. This new company is making its debut at the three year old Velocity Dance Festival on Thursday.
Morgan, the former resident choreographer and rehearsal director of City Dance Ensemble for four years is is now Artist in Residence. Morgan is scaling back from the previous schedule of national and international touring to perform more around the DC area.
Morgan says that under the old model international touring was necessary to pay the bills. With the new model he can focus his efforts on performing and making work while forming relationships with the artists that are here. Morgan says that as the dance community in DC continues to grow dance students from area dance programs like those of George Mason University and the University of Maryland College Park have a reason to stay in the area instead of making the seemingly obligatory trek to "make it" in New York City. His new company will work on a project basis with organizational support from City Dance. Morgan is working on his first evening length piece "Limited Visibility" which will premier next year.
Nowakowski said that the school directed by Lorraine Spiegler focusing on community and education continues to thrive. In its fifteen year history, the conservatory has a reputation for producing well trained dance artists. The school and the company have a mutually beneficial arrangement. The partnership with City Dance means Morgan's company will have two shows a year at the new Black Box Theater at Strathmore also called Studio 405.
This theater which is nearing completion is an example of what is to come in green performance spaces. Their new seating system replaces one that took a day to assemble and deconstruct with an automated one that only takes an hour. The theater lighting system is replace with LEDs that use a fraction of the electricity and don't need gels, the plastic film used to change the color of the lights. Instead the LEDs themselves change colors which means the task of changing gels between pieces is no longer necessary. They are still working on raising money for a truss system, for overhead lights and they hope, solar panels.
"The new model is perfect for City Dance" says Nowakowski. Morgan's new company will work with a schedule that will allow him time to think about making work more and preparing for shows less. Nowakowski is excited about the new company and the many changes happening with dance in the DC area. "City Dance is in the position to help make this a place for high level dance".
Christopher K. Morgan & Artists is performing Velocity Dance Festival Thursday and Saturday October 20 and 22 at 8pm at Sidney Harmon Hall of the Washington Shakespeare Theater. The festival opens on Thursday October 20th and runs through October 23rd.
Purchase tickets here.
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