ThruLines Dance Initiative
ThruLines is a dance initiative committed to developing original dance narratives that are approachable and accessible to today's diverse audiences. We explore narrative dance in a variety of mediums, including live theater, site-specific performances, or media-based works with the goal of providing isolated communities with access to unifying artistic experiences.
Our Thru Line:
In October of 2015, I began a partnership with the United Palace of Cultural Arts to develop low cost opportunities for uptown dancers and choreographers to create and showcase work. A year later, after a few set backs, a lot of collaboration, and an incredible amount of support from the dance community, we produced our first event: The Danza Highbridge Festival.
The Danza Highbridge Festival took place on September 17th, 2016 in the drained pool at Highbridge Park in Washington Heights. Eight professional choreographers, including myself, brought a total of forty dancers to the pool to present our work. That Saturday afternoon two hundred members of the Washington Heights community were treated to a free performance where they were exposed to Jazz, Contemporary, Modern, Swing, Flamenco, traditional Columbian Dance, Hustle, Hip-Hop, Vogue, Waacking, and Theatre Dance. At the end of the show, the entire audience joined the dancers onstage and we danced the afternoon away.
The audience was filled with members of the dance community and Washington Heights locals alike! One of my dance students, Sofie, came with her mom to the event. Her family had only recently moved to Washington Heights from Sweden, so, unlike most of the little dancers in her class, Sofie didn’t speak English or Spanish. Four-years-old and fearless, she spotted her friends from dance class and took a seat in the middle of their group.
The piece of choreography I was sharing that day was a comedy piece about a boy joining a synchronized swim team. (If you know anything about synchronized swim teams, you know that it is widely thought of as only a female sport.) As my dancers performed, I was able to catch a glimpse of Sophie and her friends watching the piece. They were fully engaged; they smiled, giggled, and clapped at appropriate times throughout the piece. Despite not being able to communicate through language, my very young dance students could understand and relate to the story because it was being told through dance. This was my “ah-ha!” moment. I knew I had tapped into something powerful that I had to explore more.
With the relevance of the arts constantly in question, I feel a responsibility as an artist to use my creativity and skill set to tackle some of the problems we face as a society. Dance narratives have the power to engage and unify even the most diverse audiences. They can bridge the gap in ways that other mediums can’t. I am excited to take on this new platform and create a new wave of dance supporters and arts lovers!
- Cassie Nordgren