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A Week at Brooklyn Studios for Dance
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A Week at Brooklyn Studios for Dance

Picture of Caitrin Sneed
Updated: 5 January 2017
‘Building’ is a necessary word to use when talking about Brooklyn Studios for Dance, a community of movement artists growing in Fort Greene. What’s particularly special about BkSD is the physical building where it operates, Cadman Congregational Church, and the partnership that is building between this dance community and the congregation. BkSD’s founder Pepper Fajans has installed himself in the church as the studio’s custodian and has completely transformed (with help from an impressive volunteer effort) an upper room of the church into the BkSD space. We spent opening week with BkSD to see what’s on offer.

BkSD’s building effort extends beyond its partnership with the Cadman congregation to its relationship with ClassClassClass, a separate series of movement classes self-described as “a blank slate for movement artists to experiment with their artistic practice in some form of student-teacher relationship.” These partnerships allow BkSD to offer something for everyone: from professional, community, and somatics classes to free performances and a garden out back. In the course of a week at BkSD you can build an artistic movement practice, build a better relationship with your own body, and help build a community.

Monday – The Launch Party

BkSD advertised their Monday night grand opening launch party as a night of food, drinks, and dance. All three were impressively accomplished. With (delicious) homemade vegan dishes, what could have easily been a catered event was an intensely personal welcome dinner. The long, newly constructed dance studio was well-populated by a crowd of artists and dancers who shared mismatched rows of tables, and, in true dancer form, many attendees also found space on the floor to sit in a sensible second position to eat, drink, and be merry. The night hit a high point with three movement performances and a field trip downstairs to hear the Cadman Congregational Community Choir rehearse for their upcoming recital. Simply put, everything and everyone was welcoming.

Tuesday – Free Evening Class

Included in the slew of events that the BkSD community offers are free classes on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday evenings. Unlike some dance studios where you sign up to take a specific style of dance for a specified level, BkSD offers open classes. This is not the place for a dancer craving a more regimented class with a ballet barre or a kick-your-face moment. But for those dancers, movement artists, and other humans who want a space dedicated to exploration, deepening your personal practice, and a cross-pollination of Feldenkrais, folk-dancing, and modern dance, look no further. The schedule is not set, the teachers rotate, and the space is open and eager to welcome a range of different movement practices and levels.

Wednesday – ClassClassClass

ClassClassClass’s website prompts students to “come as you are.” On Wednesday, Raja Kelly led class with mindful questions, personal revelations, and exercises that expertly culminated in everyone walking away from class with some kind of personal discovery. While the free evening classes on Tuesday felt like fun and casual exchanges of movements, ClassClassClass was a strongly intentional practice geared toward the artist looking to dive deeper.

Friday – Free Performance

BkSD offers a free weekly performance at 8 p.m. Artists share their work, whatever that might be, in an intimate and personal setting.

Sunday – ClassClassClass Workshop

The second round of ClassClassClass involved a practice that was equally as focused and mindful as the first but led to completely different discoveries. For an hour of this workshop, Tatyana Tenenbaum led participants in observing their own breathing, the breath of others, and the physical sensation of breath and movement. It was like the voice class you initially hated in college because you were convinced the teacher was always unprepared and was just making you lie on the floor to eat up class time, but then you realized its immense value during the last part of the year when the class all came together and made sense. For those of you who have experienced that class before, here is your second chance. For those of you who haven’t (and on whom this example is completely lost), keep an open mind and dive in.

All in all, the diverse offering of events is what is most striking about BkSD. The ClassClassClass events are great for more experienced and professional dancers looking for a challenge, but all of the events are welcoming and engaging for people with any level of dance (or movement) experience who want to try something new. The best way to enjoy this space is to take a cue from the community: be open, value everyone’s contribution, and take everything as a building block.

Brooklyn Studios for Dance, 210 Lafayette Avenue, Brooklyn, NY, USA