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Game Changers 2019: New Works Emerging in Dance

Katie Cusack, The Collaborative

Dec 10, 2019

Dancers in the region this year spearheaded a movement highlighting new ways to experience the art form and celebrate the makers behind the moves.

Dancers in the region this year spearheaded a movement highlighting new ways to experience the art form and celebrate the makers behind the moves. With continuing projects like the Emerging Choreographers Project (ECP), led by Anna Pillot; the Nacre Dance Group’s local “So You Think You Can Dance” competition; the ongoing winter Flurry celebration; and new and established companies such as Synergia Dance Project and Ellen Sinopoli Dance Company finding new ways to incorporate multi-genre art such as film and live music into their shows, the scene feels like it’s ready for the spotlight after what dancers felt like “operating under the radar” for so long. 

Artists hope dance will “have more of a consistent presence where, if I want to go see dance, I don’t have to seek it out,” Pillot told The Collaborative earlier this year. “It’s in the newspapers and there are people, but it’s quiet.”  

Laura Teeter, assistant to the artistic director at Ellen Sinopoli Dance Company (ESDC), has been dancing in the region for 15 years and says working with the company and, more recently, getting involved with smaller endeavors like the ECP, has allowed her to explore and take full advantage of the local dance scene. This year, she’s seen a lot change. 

“Fifteen years ago Ellen Sinopoli was pretty much it. Nobody was really doing their own shows or putting together collaborative workshops or choreography showcases like this,” she says, mentioning ECP and Troy Dance Factory. “It’s been a huge change. A lot of people have made opportunities for themselves, creating opportunities for different dancers to come together. Choreographers and dancers can submit work and show new work. New things keep crossing my radar. The more you network and meet people, the more there is to look forward to.”

Like Pillot, Teeter recognizes that continued growth in the dance community is going to take a lot of hard work, organizing, networking and resources. “You can’t say you don’t want to do something because it’s too much work because then that opportunity is gone,” she says. “It kicks you in the butt a little bit. Say ‘yes’ and follow through.”

“Dance needs space,” she adds, “though people like Ellen have put on dance in storefronts and galleries. I’d be interested in people who have spaces… that are open to rearranging their furniture and letting dancers in… to make themselves known.”

Next year sees an active lineup of works from ESDC, including their annual residency at The Egg performing arts center. ECP will return for its fourth year—expanding their performance time to allow for the artist’s full vision—and Synergia is planning its second year (read more about it on page 30).

People Who Move, the dance company Pillot debuted in 2019, is planning a dance for camera project she says “will be a commentary on climate change and the lack of awareness of the environment we are creating (destroying) around us. The film will be a standalone piece and will also be projected in conjunction with a live performance.” The target premiere for that project will be fall 2020.

Photos by Richard Lovrich

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