Dancing Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass


By Elaine Stuart

Volume 18 • Issue 20 | October 07 – 13, 2005

2005 DUMBO Dance Festival

October 13-16

International DUMBO Dance Festival

October 19-23

John Ryan Theater

25 Jay Street, Brooklyn

A, C to High Street; F to York Street;

New York Water Taxi at Fulton Ferry Landing

(718-855-8822; whitewavedance.com)

Dancing Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass

New Yorkers will have more than one chance to see cutting-edge contemporary dance this month; in fact, they’ll have close to 100. That’s the number of dance companies who will be performing in Brooklyn’s John Ryan Theater at the White Wave Performance Space as part of the 2005 DUMBO Dance Festival, which runs from October 13–16, and the first-ever International DUMBO Dance Festival, from October 19-23.

Now in its fifth year, the DUMBO Dance Festival is a branch of the broader DUMBO (“down-under-the-Manhattan-Bridge-overpass”) Art Under the Bridge Festival, which draws a quarter of a million people for a three-day celebration of the city’s vibrant cultural offerings. The 2005 event promises to be the biggest ever, featuring 90 companies from the United States and around the world. As in the past, many of the dance troupes participating in the festival will be making their New York debut.

“DUMBO gives enormous encouragement to young, rising choreographers,” says Young Soon Kim, artistic director of White Wave Dance Company and the festival curator. “It gives them a chance to perform their own work in an environment with a completely enthusiastic audience,” she says, noting that the house is packed every night.

That kind of exposure is invaluable for emerging artists eager to break into the city’s elite dance scene, and it often pays off. Tom Price, 33, artistic director of tompricedance—a popular New York City-based troupe performing in DUMBO for the third year— credits the event with much of his company’s success. “When we danced in the festival in 2003, it was our first time being part of a semi-curated performance. Then last year we were reviewed by the New York Times,” he says. This year, tompricedance will perform at the prestigious Merce Cunningham Studio in New York the same weekend as the festival. “DUMBO helped me and my company, and I will keep coming back no matter how big we get. My roots are here."

Dancers and spectators alike appreciate the festival’s emphasis on innovation and experimentation. “We’re presenting the freshest, most avant-garde performances,” says Kim of DUMBO’s diverse lineup. Choreographers are encouraged to explore new terrain and take risks. This year’s festival performance by tompricedance marks the company’s foray into the realm of live music, and they’ll be dancing to an original score. “This is the first time I’ve collaborated on that level,” says Price. “It’s something new.”

The International DUMBO Dance Festival, following close on the heels of its sister series and designed to showcase the artistry of a single ethnic or cultural heritage, is another festival first. After a tireless, three-year effort by Kim to generate the necessary funding, the inaugural event, presented in association with The Korea Society, will feature the work of seven Korean dance makers in two different programs. “Although these talented choreographers have performed throughout Europe and the world, they’ve never presented in New York,” says Kim. “We hope the mass market exposure will provide them with more opportunities.”

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