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Salvatore LaRussa Dance Theater (SLDT) hosted their 12th Queens Outdoor Dance Festival at LaRussa Studio in Middle Village on June 5th.

The free event took place in the backyard of the LaRussa studio, where eight dance companies and choreographers showed off their skills in front of a limited live audience ranging from modern dance to ballet.

The six dancers of the Open Dance Improvisation Ensemble created a piece called “When We Connect”, highlighting the internal connection between body, mind and spirit. The dance had taken on new meaning after the COVID-19 pandemic, asking humans how they treated the connection of body, mind and spirit during isolation and what they learned from it.

The Open Dance Ensemble performs “When We Connect” at the Queens Outdoor Dance Festival 2021 at Larussa Studio on June 6, 2021. (Photo by Gabriele Holtermann)

Choreographer Emma Holtzman explained that they started working on the piece in January 2020 and worked on dance virtually throughout the pandemic.

Holtzman, who has been dancing for 20 years, admitted she cried when the dance troupes met to rehearse in person.

“I had spent 14 months without being in a studio and just with people. This first rehearsal made me cry. It was such an incredible feeling, ”said Holtzman with fellow dancers Luca Villa, Devyn Ciccio and Sara Pizzi sounding“ it was lovely to be back in the studio ”.

Performers Ellen Mihalick and Billy Blanken of the Sheep Meadow Dance Theater performed “Sonata” to Bach Cello Suite 3 Prelude performed by Yo-Yo Ma.

Sheep Meadow Dance Company performs “Sonata” at the Queens Outdoor Dance Festival 2021 at Larussa Studio on June 6, 2021. (Photo by Gabriele Holtermann)

Blanken, a choreographer who founded Sheep Meadow Dance Theater in 2016 as a way to explore movement through socially engaged dance practice with a repertoire ranging from site-specific performance art to classical ballet, said that on June 22, the dance company will present a full dance evening titled “Season III: Sleeping Beauty”.

Blanken’s version of the classic “Sleeping Beauty” is one of healing and rebirth combining the art and dance of life, and the dance company “is delighted to share this living dance film as the theater community and artistic New York wakes up after a difficult year “.

The event, which is supported by the Salvatore LaRussa Dance Theater and the Sanctuary Roosevelt Island, will be broadcast live from the Culture Lab LIC at the Plaxall Gallery, and the public will be able to purchase tickets via Eventbrite.

Other performances include “The Rat’s Lab for the Haunted” by Susie McHugh + Dancers, “Exhalation in Exile” by Shayna Maydela Project, “Feet can’t fail me now” by Mari Meade Dance Collective, “About Zamba” by Dance Action, “Arsenic” by Leigh Ann Gann, and “Emotion” by Indy Caudle.

Dance Action performs “About Zamba” at the Queens Outdoor Dance Festival 2021 at Larussa Studio on June 6, 2021. (Photo by Gabriele Holtermann)

SLDT artistic director and choreographer Salvatore LaRussa was delighted to announce that the free dance festival will now take place twice a year – in June and October – and that the SLDT, now in its 12th year, already had secured funding through the Queens Council of the Arts. for the next year.

LaRussa said they are safely returning to in-person classes after a year of virtual classes.

“We also offer private singing and piano lessons that we started just before COVID. And now we’re just doing more. During the New Year, you will see informal showcases where we choose five choreographers to show work in progress, which would be inside the studio. And we’re creating a sort of artistic collective with other artists, ”said LaRussa, whose dance company also produces at Alvin Ailey in Manhattan.

The nonprofit, which also receives support from State Senator Joseph Addabbo, Council Member Robert Holden and the New York City Department of Youth and Community Development, offers dance classes ranging from ballet modern dance and hip hop, as well as writing and acting instructions. for preschoolers and up.

For more information on visiting the SDLT academy www.sldt.org/the-academy.



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