The College of Staten Island is hosting two world class dancers as part of The CUNY Dance Initiative (CDI), a new residency program providing rehearsal and performance space to New York City choreographers and dance companies.

Maira Duarte's "Dance to the People" laboratory is part of The CUNY Dance Initiative at CSI.

Maira Duarte is a Mexican dancer, teacher and choreographer whose choreographies have been presented in several venues and festivals in Mexico, Spain, Uganda and the United States. She is currently working in a dance film documentary titled The Scientist’s Search, which will be featured at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh.

Her residency at CSI has allowed her to co-direct a dance laboratory and forum called “Dance to the People,” what Duarte calls “the first open collective to offer free space and opportunities to create dance among peers.” “Dance to the People” is a laboratory that offers dancers an opportunity to train, move and feel—or according to Ms. Duarte—“To try things out and to keep our bodies breathing and sweating.” She offers training in several dance styles and compositions as well as a forum where dancers and students can discuss present issues in dance like dance education in schools and higher education and of dance as part of the contemporary art scene and as a commercial tool.

Arrie Davidson, Artistic Director of KineticArchitecture Dance Theatre, is part of The CUNY Dance Initiative at CSI.

Arrie Davidson, AKA Faux Pas le Fae, is a transgender artist/activist and Artistic Director of KineticArchitecture Dance Theatre, a not-for-profit focused on the development and presentation of new work that is artistically progressive and socially relevant in nature.

She has studied on scholarship at the Rock School of the Pennsylvania Ballet and received an MFA in Dance from Sam Houston State University. Major performance credits include the Seán Curran Company, Dance World Congress and the New York Engagement of Ballet Prelijocaj’s “paysage après la bataille, among many others. She has served on the faculty of Houston Ballet Academy and as Director of Education for New York City Ballet.

“This is an opportunity to get our students interested in dance,” proclaimed George Sanchez, Chairperson of the department of Performing and Creative Arts at CSI. “The residencies are part of CSI’s continuing effort to support NYC artists as they work to enrich our students and our community. It also allows CSI students the opportunity to learn from the highly talented artists who come to NYC in order to hone their craft. It is a great idea, and most importantly of all, it’s working.”

Both of CSI’s dancers-in-residence have been using their space in the Center for the Arts for rehearsals as well as teaching master classes in ballet and modern dance. The College is providing rehearsal space for the artists and in return students will benefit from master classes and open rehearsal, and the community will benefit with performances open to the public.

With lead funding from the New York Community Trust, and n recognition of New York City’s place as the center of dance in the country, the CUNY Dance Initiative offers is hosting 26 New York area dancers who are honing their craft at 11 CUNY colleges in all five boroughs.

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