xyz nyc is a new approach to modern dance-making in New York City. Bringing the choreographic process to a reality-TV-inspired format, we invite modern dance-makers to meet for the first time and create an entirely new performance-ready piece in a single week.
Three to four choreographers are chosen randomly each month, and the remaining dancers make up their teams. Every month has a different theme that must be be woven into the nascent dances—past shows have included interpretations of “Free Pussy Riot,” “Museum of Natural History” and “One Step Beyond”—and choreographers must also find a way to incorporate last-minute challenges that test their technical skill and creativity.
The public performance one week later at The Tank is a competition between the pieces. After each dance, a prominent guest judge provides feedback, but the audience ultimately picks the winner. Despite the competition structure of the show, the vibe is encouraging, welcoming, and incredibly respectful of what the choreographers and dancers have accomplished in a week. In addition, all of the choreographers receive positive audience feedback and a professionally shot video of their new piece.
Why is this series important?
xyz nyc serves both the participating dancers and choreographers as well as the larger dance audience community.
The New York City dance community is made up of small sub-communities. Most of these are centered around alma maters and well-known choreographers. That’s completely natural and rational- but sometimes difficult for dancers to feel like they can break into a real community if they didn’t attend a big school or work with a choreographer with a vast network. Secondly, calcified working communities can produce stale art. Contemporary choreographers and dancers desperately need a way to join a community without barriers and not only meet other dancers, but actively make work with a variety of new people.
The dance audience community needs new life, too. How do we open up our community in a welcoming way? How do we address the common feeling that modern, avant-garde dance is confusing, boring, and impossible to “get” (unless one has a degree in dance) without compromising the integrity of the work? xyz nyc encompasses dances in a format familiar to almost everyone- a television game show. This recognizable format provides a crucial entryway for the audience. However, unlike the popular So You Think You Can Dance or Dancing with the Stars, xyz nyc is about inspired creativity rather than technical proficiency- dancers as artists rather than athletes. In addition, through the show’s themes and challenges, the audience gets a glimpse of the choreographic process, a process which is sorely misunderstood by many non-choreographers. Lastly, the audience is asked to provide their reason for voting for their favorite dance, engaging the audience by asking them to constantly evaluate what they are seeing. This series is designed to create a new generation of dance enthusiasts who are not dance professionals, but who will check out a dance performance the way non-visual artists visit a museum or gallery, or a non-musician would go to a concert.