Unexpected Labor Pains- While Birthing A Dance Company- A Tale Above and Beyond Dance
Written by Christine Jowers- The Dance Enthusiast-Copyright 2008
|Video Interview with Chriselle Tidrick|
During her many years in the world of movement Chriselle Tidrick has enjoyed scholarship- taking in information voraciously and generating new experiences. First, she was a gymnast, then she found ballet (to be a gymnast one needs ballet training), which led her to modern dance. She discovered stilts, which led to stilt walking, then tango lessons, which led to a tango on stilts, which evolved into a tango in the air as Tidrick came across the delights of aerial work. Upon creating her new “circus-infused” dance company, Above and Beyond Dance, Tidrick was happily anticipating a learning curve, but one can’t always control the lesson plans.
In early 2007 the new artistic director began looking for a performance space for her debut show. She logged onto www.nycdancespaces.org searching for smallish theaters that could accommodate all the equipment and ceiling height needed for moving safely in an “above and beyond” manner. In March she began communicating with a space, which for the purposes of this article, we will give the name “ The Space Emporium.” They had a ninety-nine-seat theater in downtown Manhattan that could handle the necessary technical requirements of the show. On May 2nd Tidrick and some of her collaborators visited the site ultimately deciding to rent it. On June 1st Tidrick signed a contract and paid a ,000.00 deposit to the theater, one quarter of the total ,000 rental fee.
Tidrick didn’t think anything of the fact that the Artistic Director of the company was not present at the signing of the contract. She left her deposit and was assured the contract would be signed immediately and returned to her posthaste. A few weeks later, however, there was no contract. When Tidrick attempted to reach “Space Emporium” by phone, she got an answering machine saying that the company was operating out of a temporary office due to a flood.
At first there was no cause for alarm. It made sense that paperwork would be slower after an emergency. Panic entered the picture when Tidrick, after making several phone calls to the temporary office as well as the original phone number of the theater, sent an email to “ SE” that bounced back to her. She tried to visit the company website, but it had disappeared. She went to the location of “ SE’s” “ temporary” office and found out that the group had been evicted from their main space because they weren’t paying their rent. They had also ceased to rent their temporary office. Even more frustrating was the fact that the eviction notice for the theater was posted in June, the same month Tidrick signed her contract and “SE” cashed her deposit check. “ NO ONE mentioned that the theater was having any financial difficulty, in fact, I was assured by the rental manager that the theater would be fully cleaned and painted before our booking” said Tidrick.
What followed was some persistent amateur sleuthing. Tidrick searched the web and found one of the former theater managers on myspace.com. He disclosed that the operators of “SE” had formed a new company with a new name. Tidrick was able to find the new company, (for the purpose of this article) “Space Emporium 2” by looking it up on the Government’s Registry of Public Records.
Because she had kept copious notes of her meetings and all the back and forth emails between herself and “SE” Tidrick, with the help of Volunteer Lawyers for The Arts, was able to organize a small claims court case against the former directors of the theater and they are now on a payment plan to reimburse her.
“It was a whole process that I never expected to spend time and energy doing.” says Tidrick, who instead of sleeping or going to class or spending as much time on audience outreach as she would have liked, worked on this case. “Organizing a season is so overwhelming already, not to mention the idea of organizing a small claims court case. I found Volunteer Lawyers for The Arts, and my lawyer walked me through what I had to do, what I needed to prove, and what I had to bring to court.’
When I asked if she had any advice to give other dance artists about legal troubles, Tidrick said, “Keep Everything.” It was ultimately her organization of all her documents and emails that enabled her to get her money back. She also has words of praise for the people at Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts whose support and advice was crucial.
With this trial behind her, Tidrick is now enthusiastic about flying (and dancing) through her first season at The Kumble Theater on Long Island University’s Brooklyn Campus. It promises to be an exciting mix of right side up and upside down movement with expert contemporary choreographers, aerialists, gymnasts, and tango artists.
ABOVE and BEYOND DANCE presents SEEKING at the Kumble Theater, Long Island University, Brooklyn Campus. Friday February 29th, at 8pm, Saturday March 1 at 3pm and 8pm. Sunday March 2 at 3pm. Tickets: 0.00 and 0.00 for students, available at the Kumble Theater box office.
Call 718 488 1624 Monday-Friday from 1-6 pm or log on to www.kumbletheater.org
For additional information about Above and Beyond Dance log on to www.AboveAndBeyondDance.com
To learn more about Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts log on to www.vlany.org
Elena Paul, The Executive Director of Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts, says every artist needs to understand at least these basic areas of the law: contracts, intellectual property and copyright, and what kind of organizational entity, if any, they may want to form non-profit or for profit. By working with Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts one can get access to legal advice (some for free and some on a sliding scale) that could otherwise cost hundreds of dollars. Also, checkout - www.vlany.org/bootcamp/ for information about the basics.