Next week, the venerable dance troupe known as Nimbus Dance Works will do something the company hasn’t been able to do before. After seven years of performing in various spaces around Northern New Jersey, the downtown Jersey City-based company is finally settling down in a permanent home of its own.
Later this month Nimbus will open the School of Nimbus Dance Works at Barrow Mansion where the company will share space with the Attic Ensemble, a theater group.
To celebrate the move, Nimbus will host an open house on Thursday, Sept. 13 from 5 to 8 p.m. at Barrow Mansion, at 83 Wayne St. in downtown Jersey City.
Until now, many Nimbus performances were held at Grace Church Van Vorst, which hosted the company’s annual spring season of shows.
“Grace Church has been incredibly supportive of us,” said Samuel Pott, founder and artistic director for Nimbus Dance Works. “But one of the big driving questions from the start for Nimbus was how can we make what we do relevant to people, especially people who aren’t already going to see dance.”
‘I’m not interested in movement just for the sake of movement.’ – Samuel Potts
“Dance organizations across the country are trying to counter these dwindling audiences,” Pott said. “Part of it is the digital age we live in. Going to the theater requires buying a ticket in advance and sitting still and not texting for a couple hours. But also, when polls are done on why people don’t do to see dance, the top answer is people are sacred they won’t understand what’s happening onstage. Modern dance companies are partially responsible for that, for presenting dance in a way that is hard to understand. So, one of the things we consciously try to do is find ways to connect the dance to experiences the audience can relate to.”
Part of this mission, he added, includes setting his performances in urban settings that are familiar to Jersey City residents. For each of the last three years, for instance, Nimbus has performed the Jersey City Nutcracker, which is set locally.
“As it’s written, the Nutcracker takes place in an aristocratic, European culture during the holidays. In our story, in our version of the Nutcracker, everything that takes place really could happen in Jersey City. Our lead characters are a boy and a girl. The girl comes from a somewhat wealthy background. The boy comes from a poorer family and they meet in the city square and go off and have this city adventure and there’s construction debris that appears onstage. They meet up with a group of bullies and they have to get the nutcracker back from the bullies. The bullies end up turning into rats.”
In addition to giving exposure to emerging dancers and choreographic talent, Pott said the School of Nimbus Dance Works will have a secondary goal: to give young dancers and choreographers an opportunity to work with their peers and hone their skills, something that’s currently not available in Jersey City.
Potts said the modern dance school will offer late afternoon and evening classes for both children and adults. Classes will be taught by members of Nimbus Dance Works.
E-mail E. Assata Wright at firstname.lastname@example.org.