A Postcard from Karisma Jay, Founder and Artistic Director of AbunDance Academy of the Arts
“DREAM, AbunDantly!” at Kings Theatre
Hi Dance Enthusiast readers! When I last wrote you, AbunDance was going through some difficult times. Our rent nearly doubled and we were suddenly uprooted from our studio space. But I’m delighted to inform you that we didn’t let our dream die. Thanks to the support of the community, staff and students (and a lot of hard work), we found a new space in Brooklyn to call home and re-opened in March of this year. We’re offering a variety of dance and other performing arts classes (ballet, modern, African, jazz, hip-hop, Caribbean and more) to kids and adults, with affordable and sliding scale fees. Our goal is to make the performing arts more accessible to all, to ensure that cost is not a barrier to entrance. We are grooming artists of different backgrounds, honing talent, and most importantly, instilling important life skills in our students.
The New Studio:
When faced with a blank slate, I had to keep asking myself, how do I want to decorate so that this location will still feel familiar to our students? A lot of intentionality went into making it nostalgic. Even though we were suddenly uprooted from the place where it all started, our new space really does feel like home. I even had one student who had been gone from the Academy for a year visit the new studio and immediately say, “Wow! This is exactly like the old space!”
The most apparent difference is that the new space is triple the amount of square footage, an expansion which was much needed. It may be three times larger than before, but we are already filling it as we continue to grow.
AbunDance has our annual performance at Kings Theatre in Brooklyn coming up on June 24. This year’s show marks a major milestone, being that it is our first production in our new space. The show, “DREAM, AbunDantly” is inspired by Dreamgirls, and is about following your dreams even in the face of adversity that arises when the system is working against you. It very much reflects what we went through as a school. The show will feature more than 100 performers from 2 and a half to 70-years-old, including technically trained AbunDance students and professional performers all sharing the same stage. I like to have multigenerational performers on stage, because it shows that you are never too young or too old to participate.
The performance does have some heavy but relevant messages about how many of today’s children are not getting to live out their dreams due to violence, but is still uplifting despite this serious theme. We have live music, catchy hits from Dreamgirls like “Listen,” “And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going” and “Cadillac Car," and of course, there’s a whole lot of dance. We’ll have multiple generations dancing through the different eras together starting in the '60s and taking us into the 1970s, 1980s and onwards.
What’s Next for AbunDance:
AbunDance is going global! This summer we’re doing a studio exchange with schools in the Bahamas in which we will be collaborating in dance, theater, and vocal classes. We will be bringing AbunDance students to the Bahamas to learn from local teachers and AbunDance teachers will also be collaborating with local teachers to teach classes. Bahamian students will be coming to Brooklyn to take classes, and Bahamian teachers will be coming here to teach our students. It truly is a study swap. Our goal is to continue to do these studio swaps across the map, and expose our students to different cultures and styles, while showing them that dance truly is a global language.
For information about our June 24 fundraising performance at Kings Theatre, visit the Kings Theatre website.
For the most up-to-date information on AbunDance Academy of the Arts classes and programming, you can follow us via the below links and visit www.abundancearts.org for information. Twitter: @AbunDanceBK and Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/abund
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