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Downtown dance persists with the tenacity of the carnival game Whack-a-Mole. Outside forces hammer it with raised rents and zoning restrictions, but the wily varmint keeps on keeping on. Four spaces have popped up to confirm that dance’s basement and garage circuit will continue to thrive in the city’s baffling real-estate market. The organizers are hip, young, and ballsy. Their events inject audiences with a buzz that smacks of “new thing.”
Williamsburg’s Galapagos (70 North 6th Street, 718-384-4586) wins “coolest” hands down. Housed in a defunct mayonnaise factory, the space asserts an odd urban élan, from the pool at its entrance to its local beer list. Managing director Christopher Plant juggles a resident theater company with evenings of music, film, and spoken word in a raw back room, which expands to hold up to 120 panting bodies.
Two of Elizabeth Streb’s dancers, Lisa Dalton and Terry Dean Bartlett, curate a monthly dance showcase here. Their April program, a mixture of unknowns and veteran insiders, made Martha@Mother seem so last year. Heidi Latsky, who showed an excerpt from her Worst Case Scenario, describes playing the space as creating “an immediacy, a real rapport with the audience. It’s not as serious . . . though there’s some really beautiful, serious work being done.” Katie Workum, whose solo brought down the house, agrees. “Here, the audience is ready to love.”
The “Get Up!” series at Tribeca’s Flea Theatre (41 White Street, 212-226-0051) also captured a sense of the white-hot and right-now. A team of curators headed by Lizzie Simon rotated Downtown stars through three rapid-fire programs, each MC’d by an Off-Off celebrity. Extended runs by choreographers Sara East Johnson and Nicholas Leichter were considerable successes here as well, enhancing the theater’s cachet with dance audiences.
The lobby of Bo’s Place (95 Vandam Street, 3R, 212-675-4812), in Soho, smelled of fresh paint during its March production. Choreographers Ink, the collaborative ensemble that created the piece, was founded by five NYU/Tisch grads, one of whom, Jennifer Edwards, calls the loft home. The energy and attention to detail in what was only their second show displayed a remarkable savvy that bodes well for the future.
The Williamsburg Art & Historical Center (135 Broadway, 718-486-7372, www.wahcenter.net) hosts the second annual Williamsburg and Greenpoint Dance Festival at the end of May, curated by Ariane Anthony. All participants must live in one of the festival neighborhoods, assuring a lively and eclectic mixture of forms.