Dance Gallery Festival 2017
This weekend, New York City hosted several dozen more dancers than usual. The annual Dance Gallery Festival takes place in NYC from November 3-5 after showing in Houston, Texas earlier this year. The festival was founded in 2007 by Astrid von Ussar and Mojca Ussar.
Astrid came to New York from Slovenia in 1994 to study dance at the prestigious Ailey School. Since then, she has become a well-known choreographer and has been on the faculty of the Ailey School, Ballet Hispanico, and Dance New Amsterdam, in addition to teaching workshops and choreographing around the world.
As artistic directors of Dance Gallery Festival, the Ussars strive to fill the showcase with works that push the boundaries of modern and contemporary dance from upcoming choreographers.
The 2017 lineup features 19 different works, each from different choreographers. The companies that performed in New York this weekend came from places as diverse as Texas and Arizona, New York and Massachusetts, and Switzerland and Slovenia.
One returning company is the Ad Deum dance company from Houston, Texas. Founded and directed by Randall Flinn, the mission of Ad Deum (“to God” in Latin) is to “create and perform excellent and vital works of dance that serve to wash over the heart and soul of humanity with relevant meaning and redemptive hope.” The company has toured across five continents, and regularly teaches workshops for youth in Switzerland and participates in fundraising performances back home in Houston for local and global causes.
Kjara Starič Wurst and her company Kjara’s Dance Project traveled a little further to get to New York. This Slovenian company aims to give more performing opportunities to young dancers. Wurst has performed in many festivals across Europe, in addition to choreographing and co-directing a music video and having one of her full-length productions turned into a feature-length film.
Swiss dancer/choreographer Nicole Von Arx is one of three companies featured this year in the festival’s Level UP program. These companies were voted for by the 2016 festival’s audience and received funds to make a new, longer work that they have the opportunity to perform at a large venue in New York City this year. Von Arx was born in England and raised in Switzerland, and she is now based between Brooklyn and Geneva. Through her work, she and her company want to create bridges and exchanges between cultures and people.