Magazine article Dance Magazine

Innovative Dance Center Founded in New York

Magazine article Dance Magazine

Innovative Dance Center Founded in New York

Article excerpt

TIVOLI, New York--In the face of funding cuts, folding dance companies, and a lack of affordable rehearsal space there may be a shining light at the end of the tunnel--called Kaatsbaan.

The brainchild of founders Martine van Hamel, Kevin McKenzie, Bentley Roton, and Gregory Cary, Kaatsbaan (which means "playing field" in Dutch) is a newly formed international dance center dedicated to providing a place to create new work in a beautiful, healthy environment. Located near Poughkeepsie, New York, in the sleepy town of Tivoli, Kaatsbaan is located on 153 acres of pastoral countryside that was originally a horse farm, with buildings designed by the famous architect Stanford White.

The inspiration for Kaatsbaan came seven years ago when van Hamel and McKenzie decided to look for a house in upstate New York. Their idea was to find a studio where work could be done away from the pressures of the city. They brought their idea to Roton, a former American Ballet Theatre and Broadway dancer turned producer. "I kept hearing of people losing their dance spaces," says Roton, "[such as the] Erick Hawkins company and Martha Graham company. We wanted to create a safe haven for dancers." Two years ago, after a few false starts, the four founders discovered the property that is now Kaatsbaan and raised money to purchase it.

"Kaatsbaan will primarily focus on the creative process," says Roton. "Dancers need creative, physical, and mental space," Space, in all directions, is what they will have at Kaatsbaan. Plans include a residence for visiting dancers and artists that will eventually be able to house up to 100 people. According to Roton, there will be seven working studios, the largest, fifty-five by sixty feet with seating for 120 people, for showcases and workshops. The arena, which used to be for horses, will be turned into a state-of-the-art theater with 450 to 500 seats. "Three or four small companies could be in residence at the same time," says Roton. "Ideas could be exchanged."

Most important, say the founders, is Kaatsbaan's emphasis on providing time and space for artists to create without the pressure of reviews and New York audiences. …

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