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Liz Gerring, Pam Tanowitz, and Michelle Dorrance, photographed by Matt Karas.

At City Center, what you see onstage is just the beginning. Behind the back wall of the theater is a hive of creative activity: nine stories of rehearsal rooms, offices, and dance studios that were inaugurated by Balanchine in the 1940s. You might find the likes of Twyla Tharp, Wendy Whelan, and Kyle Abraham rehearsing there on a given afternoon. This season, three acclaimed choreographers will take up residence, thanks to City Center’s Choreography Fellowship program: Liz Gerring, Pam Tanowitz, and Michelle Dorrance.

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October 13, 2016 by New York City Center
Jessica Lang Dancer

Choreographer Jessica Lang has embarked on spellbindingly elegant collaborations with architects, photographers, and musicians over the course of a career that led Dance Magazine to declare her “a master of visual composition.” Lang has created more than 85 works as a freelance choreographer since 1999; wondering “what it would be like to make dance on the same group of people,” she founded Jessica Lang Dance in 2011. The company has since performed at BAM, Jacob’s Pillow, the Kennedy Center, and the Joyce Theater. We caught up with the 2015 City Center Choreography Fellow by email.

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May 6, 2015 by New York City Center
Reggie Wilson Dance

The choreographer Reggie Wilson has been called “an anthropologist of the lost gesture,” and it’s no exaggeration—his work has been inspired by field research conducted everywhere from Trinidad to the Mississippi Delta. “I don’t control what filters in,” he says. “Maybe it’s the food of the place, maybe it’s the smell of the place, maybe it’s the temperament of the people; all of those things have an impact choreographically.” Since founding the Fist & Heel Performance Group in 1989, Reggie’s “post-African/Neo-HooDoo Modern dances” have been performed across the globe. We caught up with the 2015 City Center Choreography Fellow by phone.

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May 6, 2015 by New York City Center
Kyle Abraham Dance

A self-proclaimed “rave kid,” Kyle Abraham didn’t know anything about professional dance when he saw the Joffrey Ballet perform Billboards at age 16. (He’d only shown up because the piece was set to the music of Prince.) But he was hooked. In the years since, Abraham’s daring choreography—influenced by everything from 1970s hip-hop to Pinocchio—has led OUT magazine to call him “the best and brightest creative talent to emerge in New York City in the age of Obama.” The 2015 City Center Choreography Fellow is currently touring with Wendy Whelan’s Restless Creature; we caught up with him by email.

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May 6, 2015 by New York City Center
City Center Studio Series

2014 Choreography Fellow Silas Riener performs as part of City Center’s Studio 5 series; photo by Christopher Duggan.

They’re not pole dancers, yet there they are again each day, hanging onto poles and swaying—in the subway, that is. Choreographers who don’t have their own studios are perpetually commuting from space to space, clutching dance bags filled with electronics and sweaty clothes.

“It’s quite a nomadic lifestyle, being an American choreographer,” says Brian Brooks. Yet there is hope. Brooks is one of the artists whose life changed dramatically when he received New York City Center’s Choreography Fellowship.

Studio space is only one component of the Fellowships, which were established in 2011 by City Center President & CEO Arlene Shuler. “There are so many talented choreographers who don’t have an artistic home,” says Shuler. “We wanted to change that.” Along with 200 hours of free studio time, the Fellowship also provides artists with a stipend and access to the know-how of City Center arts administrators. Yet it’s the studios that choreographers lust after. Gigantic by the standards of contemporary dance, and cushioned with Marly flooring, these spaces are clean and quiet—far above the grit and rattle of the subway. Here dancing bodies can relax, the creative mind can focus, and movement starts to flow.

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April 29, 2015 by New York City Center
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