Dance New Amsterdam Is Closing, A Dancer’s View


Tonight after taking dance class with Jennifer Archibald I was grabbing my bag ready to leave, in a hurry to shower. Before I could thank her for the class and say good bye, she stopped the music and announced to us that DNA was closing on Monday.

Of course it is closing on Monday. It is Labor Day

 Or I thought, until I saw her eyes get watery and seconds later watched her look up and cover her face with her hands.

Sorry, this is hard. We got the call today.  I taught here for ten years.  Hundreds of people are losing their jobs. 

I stood there, still sweaty, a circle of dancers around her, one dancer from the international student program already crying, others hugging each other. I am heartbroken.

 Some people move here for job purposes, to find love, start music careers, to write more, to dance more, to escape something, to look for better, to look for different. Most of my anticipation about coming to NYC was that I would find a dance studio that would allow me to grow. And since I moved here 3 years ago, I spent a good amount of time trying out different classes every evening after work, searching for a studio that would train not only professional dancers in modern and contemporary technique, but also aspiring and emerging dancers who started as adults, like me.

I loved DNA from the start. Like a good partner, a good relationship, this studio provided me with a non-competitive, yet serious environment that allowed me to find a voice, forget about my work day, explore my own form, and develop momentum, flow, while dancing with a community of people who loved the same thing I did.  It was always about catching those fleeting moments when a choreography allowed me to express something, to leave something else behind, to say something with the body.

I enjoyed the artistic commitment of my fellow classmates and teachers coupled with a less competitive environment than studios such as STEPS or BDC. I was not expected to have perfect turn out or amazing flexibility and extensions. I got to work with what I had, teachers motivated students to tell a story with the body, to actually be artists, to explore movement, and to top it off, I encountered amazing dancers and teachers with no need to sustain huge egos. Like with any good relationship, my experience at DNA allowed me to mature as a dancer, to grow, to leave the fear of looking uncoordinated, ungraceful, behind and to take risks with my choices.

But, the facts are that DNA filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy on May 28 of this year. And I think I ignored this because I assumed it would be around forever, that a fundraiser would help, that the only extra ten dollars I had would help contribute, that others would add their ten dollars and contribute too.

Terese Loeb Kreuzer wrote for the Downtown Express in June

New York City’s landlord/tenant court has given the non-profit organization until the end of September to come up with a financial plan that would enable it to keep its doors open at 280 Broadway (…)Although DNA continued to pay rent through those months, it was $131,000 in arrears and was saddled with interest on a debt it incurred while it renovated the space it occupies in a landmarked building that dates from 1845.

On my way out of the studio tonight, I asked at the front desk and they informed me that mostly everyone just found out today, via an e-mail, that the studio was closing on Monday.

Unless we can get someone to donate fifty thousand dollars, I guess it is over.

So, that’s it?

Just like that?

I feel homeless.

Where am I going to go now? To find teachers of the level of Max Stone, Diane McCarthey, Laurie Devito (forgive me I am forgetting many) teachers who taught at DNA for years, who developed a technique, educated hundreds of students, created companies, created choreographies, mentored other dancers who later became teachers.  Or the younger teachers who brought all the wit and energy and always have new ideas for us to try out, Megan Bascom, Kendra Portier, Benny Simon, Julia Ehrstrand, or the guest artists who teach every week, and these are just a few whom I got to learn from, absorb from, and now? I guess we dancers will have to hustle.

Those who love or got attached to their teachers might have to figure out where and when they are teaching next, and try to take their class in different studios around the city (if this is your case, I suggest to follow a teacher’s Facebook notifications or through their website for weekly updates on locations) others might have to find a different studio to call home. But I cannot think too far ahead, all I know is that a community is being kicked out, just like that. Although the economical consequences will impact  hundreds who work there, the emotional consequences of this closure-seeing dancers upset after class and later in the hallways, the faces of disappointment, the tears, seems just as bad.

I could go on writing about how this is impacting an amazing creative community, how we need way more public funding for the arts and for individual artists, how recession is a bitch, how teachers will actually plan on re allocating their classes in different studios, and I will expand on this. But for now, until Monday, I do not want to say good bye to DNA. Who has some change, say some fifty thousand dollars you could spare us please?

1) Here are some links on the subject:

Updates on bankruptcy and closure

2) I want to apologize for not giving credit to these images. I picked them up from websites which did not include the name of the photographer and it is not my intention to steal from artists ( although I did). Any info on these images is greatly appreciated.

About Are You Hung Up

I am a trained philosopher but usually make a living teaching middle school or writing Spanish scripts for Youtube. I get hung up on things. So here is my writing about whatever I'm hung up on in the moment. I'm from Argentina and my style of writing might have too many run ons for you. Consider that too.
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