As with most things, there is a longer story regarding how The Co-Op came to be. The short version is:
My artistic partner and I wanted to create a performing group made up of professional dancers and choreographers and to provide them with a safe space to develop their artistry while creating dynamic new work that we would present and tour throughout the area. This is the story of 4 choreographers and 6 dancers who have been brought together to create an original show. The resulting work was inspired by and created for the dancers in collaboration with these wonderful choreographers. They all met as a group of talented strangers eager to develop new connections and ideas. They have transformed into a unit of artists who breathe as one for the sole purpose of sharing their phenomenal work.
This is The Co-Op.
Now for the “more in-depth explanation”:
Following production on ‘The Series 2015’ (a 21 day long concert series that I produced from February 23rd – March 15th, 2015) I took a much needed vacation to Croton on Hudson to visit with friends. During the stay I asked ‘What do you all do for entertainment?’ and they replied, “Go to the movies. Walk the dog. Netflix and chill… When are you going to bring a show up this way so we can see it?” I laughed and said ask me again in a year. Flashing forward a few months after that I entered into an artistic partnership with Lakey Evans-Peña (the Artistic & Executive Director of Williamsburg Movement & Arts Center).
The ground rules for this partnership were that I would expand upon my own vision of ‘presenting artistically provocative yet commercially viable new work’ by embracing Lakey’s vision of ’empowering people through dance’. We initiated this by forming a new production platform which we called christened “The Intimate Series”. “The Intimate Series” provides artists with a safe and affordable space to cultivate their artistry, develop new work, and engage audiences in new ways. After 6 months of existence we’d already presented 4 dance concerts, granted 4 commissions for new work, hosted 3 private performances, and developed 3 original new events- all of this was great but a little too similar to what I’d been doing before. What I really wanted to do was address the challenge given to me by my friends while tackling a problem I saw in the business model for dance production.
Singers write music and then sell their songs as singles- or perform the same songs over and over again. Painters sell prints of their work. Actors sell movie tickets or perform the same work for years on end. Dancers and choreographers spend 3 to 6 months creating a work and then toss it aside as soon as they start making a piece. Sure, sometimes dancers tour, but by and large the model for touring has been abandoned even though (I believe) there is still a huge community out there craving quality dance entertainment. Even as a producer I was caught up in this rut; it took me 6 months to produce “The Series 2015” and it wiped me out- yet I still found myself going back to essentially square one with my subsequent productions which amounted to: more hard work for no where near the equal pay out. There had to be a way to work smarter instead of harder. With this in mind, Lakey and I came up with “The Co-Op”. Long story short: We held auditions for 4 choreographers after which we held auditions for 6 dancers. The selected choreographers are currently creating new work with those 6 dancers that we will premiere at WMAAC on April 15th-17th, 2016. Following this premiere, we are going to tour ‘The Co-Op’ throughout our local community and up to Croton on Hudson- or where ever their are people in need of new and awesome entertainment. For people with families we make sure that the material is engaging and suitable for all ages. For families with budding dancers, we provide arts education and offer dance classes led by our wonderful dancers and choreographers. Best of all, in the spirit of fair play, we split all proceeds equally amongst the participants.
That’s “The Co-Op” in a nutshell: 4 choreographers plus 6 dancers creating one awesome show from which they split the profits equally. I think that it’s going to be amazing and I can’t wait to hear what you think of it. See you after the show!
-Juan Michael Porter II; Artistic Director The Moving Beauty Series