Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Origins of Victory Dance

By Kali DiPippo, Artistic Programming

There is a box of materials on my desk that I affectionately think of as “The Mine.” This box contains video recordings, listings of live performances and information about festivals and conferences. The team in Artistic Programming will watch or attend these shows in order to unearth top-notch performing arts "gems" for children and families that fill our theater with stunning artistry, bright smiles and contagious energy. Each season, these gems encompass a diversity of art forms (circus, musical theater and puppetry are a few of our favorites) and represent many cultures and countries from around the globe. We're honored and excited each time we premiere a work in the United States, or in NYC, but recently we mined some new gems…some local gems. Never before have we had the privilege of focusing on a single art form, nor on work exclusively happening in our own city—until this summer.

Many of our staff members have worked in the dance field, so as huge fans of dance ourselves, we wanted to share this passion with New Victory audiences. While there are many excellent opportunities to view dance in New York, as a theater that brings the arts to New York City kids and families, we aimed to gather some of our favorite choreographers and dance companies, and present them in a way that felt accessible to families. As it turned out, each artist we spoke to responded with equal enthusiasm and Victory Dance began to take shape. This month, we'll present the first-ever festival-style presentation of dance on our stage. The series will consist of three programs, featuring a variety of themes and styles, from New York-based companies.

With Victory Dance, we wanted these performances to feel comfortable for NYC kids and families, especially those who might not be as familiar with the world of professional dance. In order to make this a reality, there were a few things we made sure to do. For starters, most of the performances will be attended by kids from summer camps and schools. For those students and campers, the performances will be completely free—and they will also receive dance-based workshops at no cost. (Is your kid attending summer camp in or near NYC? We still have space for new partners. Learn more here.) One night of each program will also be available to New Vic families and other dance fans looking to see these prolific companies on our stage. Get your tickets here!

Although we curated Victory Dance with family audiences specifically in mind, many of the individual pieces in each program were already a part of each company’s repertoire. The works and companies we are welcoming—some performing for families for the first time—represent a diverse cross-section of style, gender and inspiration; the perfect introduction, we believe, to the world of dance!

We are delighted that each performance will include the opportunity for audiences to interact with the artists of Victory Dance. For the summer camps and schools, New Vic Teaching Artists will guide kids through the themes and ideas of the pieces, encouraging them to make observations and ask questions about the works. (They may even learn a move or two from their seats!) All of the performances (both for schools/camps and the public) will also include a talk-back with the choreographers and/or company members integral to the creation of the pieces.

American poet William Stafford said about kids, “they dance before they learn there is anything that isn't music.” His words are a splendid illustration of the spirit we will celebrate this July. So make sure to mark your calendars and reserve a spot-- all tickets are just $10. We hope you'll join us to uncover the treasures of Victory Dance!

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