In 1976, Catherine Turocy asked her fellow Ohio State alumna Ann Jacoby to join her in forming the New York Baroque Dance Company. Turocy and Jacoby sought to bridge the gap between scholar and performer by enlisting dancers from New York’s modern and ballet companies, reconstructing a full evening’s worth of baroque dances, and seeing who might show up.
They invited the young harpsichordist and conductor James Richman to lead his ensemble, Concert Royal, in providing the evening’s music. Turocy recalls that “hearing some of the music for the first time in tech rehearsals, wearing the heavy costumes, the tight corsets, performing in the restricted sightlines of masks…we felt intoxicated.
We were naive to the difficulties of early music show biz!” The audience and critics who attended the company’s initial concert – most of them curious and unsure of what to expect – left the theater and started talking. The company was widely hailed for infusing baroque materials with a new vitality, and this reflected Turocy and Jacoby’s research prerogative of consulting not only Feuillet notations, but also dance treatises, paintings, acting manuals, the journals of choreographers, and the letters written by people who had attended original productions.
Today the company is run by Catherine Turocy, Artistic Director as well as Caroline Copeland and Sarah Edgar who are both Associate Directors.
The NYBDC is a leading force in the revival of 17th and 18th century ballet, challenging aesthetic conventions and bringing forgotten masterpieces to new audiences in what The Guardian has called “a whirlwind of desperately needed fresh air.”
We offer monthly classes, Dance of the Month, at Mark Morris Dance Center every first Saturday of the month. These are open classes and you can drop in any month. The general public to seasoned dancers discover the minuet, the chaconne, the sarabande as well as contredanses and period gesture and posture.
We offer a chamber music and dance concert which displays theatrical noble and comic dances as well as dances for the ballroom and can be tailored for the size of the venue and the interests of the presenter.
We love to collaborate on developing concerts, operas, ballets, site specific works and special events. With our company of dancers and choreographers we can do small or very large productions. Our vast costume stock of over 100 costumes is conveniently available for any productions in which we are hired.
Every summer we offer an historical dance intensive to professionals and amateurs, exploring the many eras of dance from the Renaissance to today and looking at specific questions across time. This year we are looking at Historical Dance at Play: www.historical.dance
Our artistic director, Catherine Turocy, is available for master classes and lectures. She has been lauded with numerous awards both national and international. She holds a BESSIE from New York and an IZZIE from San Francisco. The French Government decorated her as a knight in the Order of Arts and Letters for her dedication and cutting edge work in Baroque dance as performer, choreographer, stage director and teacher. She was the first historical artist to receive a Dance Film Award, for the creation of the video, The Art of Dancing: An Introduction to Baroque Dance. As of this date she has choreographed 78 Baroque opera productions and in over half of these she was also the stage director and often the principal solo dancer. Outside of her opera work she has created 56 ballets including Les Petits Riens by Mozart and The Four Seasons by Vivaldi.
A number of dancers have come and gone from the company in its 42-year history, and the current group is notable for its connections to the world of contemporary dance as well as for its immersion in Turocy and Jacoby’s model of the “scholar-performer.” Many of the dancers are fluent in Feuillet notation and have become influential presences in the early dance scene, teaching and guesting at universities across the country.
The company’s presence has been of wide-reaching consequence: there are few people working in the field, especially in the United States, who cannot trace their lineage to the NYBDC.
Some of the dancers of NYBDC on UMUV:
The older members of the company and our directors are qualified and experienced teachers. They include Catherine Turocy, Caroline Copeland, Sarah Edgar, Rachel List, Ani Udovicki and Meggi Sweeney Smith.
The New York Baroque Dance Company is a professional dance company dedicated to promoting the advancement of public knowledge of 17th/18th century dance, the foundation of western social and theatrical styles. With the premise that history informs and inspires our contemporary world, the NYBDC researches, reconstructs, reimagines and presents rare works as well as newly created works inspired by history, thus ensuring our heritage has a presence in the future of dance.
How Do We Serve Dance? The company performs at the highest level of artistic excellence, nationally and internationally, in concerts, fully staged period opera and ballet productions, neo-Baroque projects and free street performances. An important part of our work is sharing our passion with the general public. Maintaining an online vimeo site with documentation of our workshops exploring seminal choreographies; as well as a blog on our website, both free and accessible to the public, helps us to reach thousands of people from diverse cultural and economic backgrounds.
Since 1976 the NYBDC has mentored dancers in their “dancestry” as performers, choreographers, directors, researchers and teachers, thus enriching the future with the vibrant legacy of our dance heritage.
Dedicated to expanding dance’s presence within the other arts and sciences, the NYBDC has a history of unusual collaborations such as our online video lecture tying together Fibonacci sequences with dance and garden design.
With a company of 8 core dancers and 12 auxiliary dancers, working with a notation system allows them to put a concert together within 3 days, much as a music group can sight read music and perform. Turocy and members of the company also create new ballets in the Baroque style/context in the same way a ballet choreographer uses steps to create a new work, using the same process to explore poetic ideas and challenge the talents of the performers. Literally taking the past into the future they also work in the new genre of New Baroque dance which uses period steps and concepts in a contemporary context. (Company XIV directed by Austin McCormick is a good example of this new burgeoning form).
Today, work has expanded internationally with guest appearances and over 70 opera- ballets, numerous theatrical works and site specific creations in repertoire. Our dance heritage lives on through the legacy of the NYBDC, a living resource for dancers, artists and scholars.
From Sade Warner, young adult dancer:
“Ballet has endured and evolved over the decades and it is the foundation for many other dance forms and techniques. But what was the foundation for ballet? This workshop is such a remarkable opportunity study from the best and to learn the history behind the steps we do everyday. Dancing ballet is not only enlivening but it is truly special to know that you are continuing a tradition that is full of history. That is a thrill that I want to share with my students. “
From Marissa Castillo, somatic ballet teacher:
“I feel that historical dance is a major component for understanding today’s dance, especially classical ballet. Where did the steps come from? How did they develop the ballet technique we employ today? This all stems from Baroque and also Renaissance dances. I feel it is critical as my role as a dance educator to pass this knowledge onto my students. I also see it as a way to help students understand that ballet didn’t just all of a sudden appear but it comes from a history and lineage worthy of study and examination.”
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