With few performance spaces north of 125th Street, The “Danza!” series is one of the few opportunities Northern Manhattan audiences have to experience dance in their own community.
The goals of the Danza! are to raise the profile of dance uptown and introduce new audiences to the art form, typically through narrative-based performances. Our four annual events include a free festival in Highbridge Park, “The Hip Hop Nutcracker,” a performance by a world-class artist, and the debut of commissioned work by emerging choreographers.
Additionally, in July 2017 our new professional dance studios come online, providing an affordable uptown location for dancers to develop new work.
Danza is the home of dance uptown.
Every September between 2003 and 2005 a loose alliance of dance companies, most of them based in Washington Heights, worked with DanceNYC to stage a one-day dance festival in the drained swimming pool at Highbridge Park. The event was called “Danza Washington Heights” and attracted hundreds of audience members, in part because of the unusual outdoor setting. Since the primary organizers were Columbia University graduate students the festival died when they graduated. UPCA revived the program, and borrowed the name Danza, in September 2016 by working with local choreographers and companies to stage a one-day festival in the pool. In 2017 it turns into an annual event.
“The Hip Hop Nutcracker”
In 2013 UPCA launched an experiment with Decadancetheatre Company to bridge different art forms and reach new audiences by reimagining “The Nutcracker” in an urban setting with hip hop dance, a live DJ and electric violinist. That workshop turned into a touring show (23 cities in 2016) overseen by New Jersey Performing Arts Center.
Many of our supporters refer to the Palace as “Our Lincoln Center” since it is the only stage north of Harlem hosting world-class artists. This is one of the most important ways to excite audiences about dance. In March 2017 UPCA began its annual “Headliner” performance with Ballet Hispanico, America’s premier Latino dance organization, and its “En Familia” program.
To help foster an interest in dance Uptown, UPCA partners with local nonprofit Dance Project of Washington Heights to provide over 35 dance classes a week to students from toddler to teen. UPCA also hosts school-time dance performances with companies such as RIOULT Dance NY.
The “Danza” cycle culminates in June with a showcase of emerging choreographers who incubate new work in the Palace studios then debut it on stage. They are joined by students from Dance Project of Washington Heights.