New York Live Arts, the new super-group born out of the merger of two of the city's top contemporary dance institutions, announced its inaugural season on Wednesday. Over the course of the 2011-2012 season, the group will present an ambitious mix of programming ranging from brand new productions by young talent to classic choreographies that helped launch the career of the company's executive artistic director Bill T. Jones.
The company was formed last December when the Bill T. Jones-Arnie Zane Dance Company and the Dance Theater Workshop made the decision to merge into a single organization. Back then, Bill T. Jones said that the move arose from a practical assessment of the funding landscape for arts groups.
"We are combining our boards, we fill be able to share funders, there will be many advantages to being two instead of one," Jones told WNYC's Issac Day-Aronson in December.
During its inaugural season, New York Live Arts will present 25 distinct productions at the group's performance space in Chelsea for one and two-week runs. Several will be New York premieres, such as "Thank-you Bar" by the Alaskan choreographer Emily Johnson, which uses dance and other media to examine language and igloo myth. Other new works include "A Crack in Everything" by Zoe Scofield and Juniper Shuey, described as a work that "experiments with permeability and containment, aggression and catharsis," and "Ordinary Witnesses" by Company L'A, which is based on interviews with survivors of acts of torture.
Carla Peterson, the artistic director of New York Live Arts, said the season demonstrated what the new company was all about: "Excitement, smart ideas, unbounded creativity, debate and beauty, and the fostering of an engaged, participatory community on all sides of the creative process."
New York Live Arts also announced its "Resident Commissioned Artist Program," in which mid-career choreographers will be invited to do a two-year creative residency and premiere a new work for the company. The first resident artist will be Yasuko Yokoshi, a Japanese-born choreographer who has had works commissioned by the Guggenheim and the Whitney.
"This is unheard of in the arts: two year competitive salary and health benefits for an artist?" said Celia Ipiotis, who works for the arts non-profit Eye on the Arts. "Everybody is looking for the newest hot number on the horizon. If you are not a young Turk or an old guru, you can sometimes get lost in the shuffle."
Education and access were also themes laid out in the plan for the first New York Live Arts season. It will include several youth programs and each production will have one night in which tickets are offered at a discount for $15.
7/14 UPDATE: Bill T. Jones' new work "Story/Time," in which Jones tells a series of one-minute stories to music and dance, will not be performed at New York Live Arts in the coming season, but it will be world premiering at Peak Performance at Montclair State University in January 2012.