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Skidmore College

Alumni to strut their stuff in the Big Apple

April 3, 2008

Alumni to strut their stuff in the Big Apple

Lucy York Struever '05
Lucy York Struever '05
Last spring, dancer/choreographer Lucy York Struever '05 formed her own company: York Dance Works, described on her Web site as "a dance company committed to collaboration, and the creation of articulate, thoughtful, and multi-dimensional works of dance and dance theatre." In shaping her company, Struever recruited a goodly number of fellow Skidmore alumni as dancers, technicians, musicians, and collaborators.

This spring, York Dance Works will take a new show to New York City's Merce Cunningham Studio, in performances at 9 p.m. Friday, April 25, and at 8 p.m. Saturday, April 26. Tickets are $20; for reservations, e-mail

On the April 25?26 program are no fewer than seven premieres of new dance works?two performed to specially commissioned music?presented by some 28 participants, including both company members and guests. Among the choreographers are Struever herself, Anna Brown Massey '04, Andrea Brown '04, and Courtney Rottenberger '06. Among the dancers are Jessica Hubbard '03, Jessica Herring '07, and Claire Cholak '06. Lynda Erbs '05 is lighting designer.

Among the works on the program are Struever's 2007 piece As Long as the Beginning Feels Like Home, two new Struever works called Very Inconclusive and Salvatore Amato, and Grossman's new MoonSong. The musical accompaniment ranges from recorded works by the Kronos Quartet, Steve Reich, Pat Metheny, and others to original pieces by Adam Lerman '07.

"We're excited about the people involved in the show and the process of creating it," says Struever. "The quality of our work is increasing exponentially?we're working with musicians and commissioning scores for our pieces." Debra Fernandez of the Skidmore dance faculty notes with approval the opportunities that York Dance Works is providing for alumni dancers and choreographers. "Lucy had a strong interest in choreography while she was here at Skidmore. and she certainly showed an aptitude for it," adds Fernandez, "but we never really know who will have the stamina to pursue the difficult path of choreography."

Although Struever started dancing at age 5 or 6, she also loved the stage, playing community theater throughout late elementary and middle school and adopting a theater major at the Baltimore School for the Arts. While pursuing a cocurricular interest in theater at Skidmore, she choreographed her first dance in sophomore year for the dance club Terpsichore. Her Skidmore influences include faculty choreographer Fernandez's "openness to a wide range of types of dance" and Skidmore composer and dance accompanist Carl Landa's support of experimentation and exploration. "I also spent a lot of my summer dancing in New York, where I could explore lots of different styles."

With sheer stamina so crucial to make a living as a dancer, why did Struever want to take on an entire dance company of her own? "I was tired of dancing with groups that I was not so creatively inspired by, though I did learn a lot from them," she explains. "I had choreographed and performed pieces in showcases around the city, but moving from space to space is frustrating because it's hard to keep up a high level of production values." And even more to the point, "I've always loved dancing, but about a year ago I realized that I look forward to rehearsals more when I'm choreographing than when I'm dancing!"

So last winter Struever, an economics major and dance minor at Skidmore, incorporated her group as a business. York Dance Works encourages "an open and democratic atmosphere within the company," she says, and supports members' choreography by paying for their rehearsal space and presenting their work. A fiscal sponsorship with the arts-service organization Fractured Atlas helps with basic necessities such as fundraising and liability insurance. "Thanks to our relationship with them, donations to our company can be tax-deductible, meaning we can now fund-raise more seriously."

Best of all, says Struever, "We're actually going to be performing for three weeks in a row this April because one of my pieces, As Long as the Beginning Feels Like Home, is scheduled for dance showcases on April 12 and April 19." Additional performances will also be announced for Very Inconclusive in April or May at the Live Arts Collaborative Salon. For more information, visit the York Dance Works Web site.

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