About Us

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The Open Dance Ensemble, based in New York City and founded in January 2017, presents live, self-conducted improvised dance performances to share the excitement, joy, and beauty of dance with our audiences. Following in the footsteps of the Judson Church Theater, where improvisation first became a part of modern dance in 1962, and drawing upon Karl Berger's Creative Music Studio conducted music improvs which began in 1974, the Open Dance Ensemble created self-conducted improvisation, a new form of dance choreography in which the movers not only improvise but also conduct each other as the performance unfolds.

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We are interested in the aesthetics of dance and have no political agenda. Our dance philosophy can be traced to Immanuel Kant: “ Taste is the faculty of estimating an object or a mode of representation by means of a delight or aversion apart from any interest.” (The Critique of Judgement,1793). We hope to share the excitement, joy and beauty of dance with our audiences. Nevertheless, the quasi-collective way we create and perform could be viewed as a metaphor for social or political organization and as such may be relevant to the certain issues of the day.

Past Performances

The Open Dance Ensemble presented our first piece, Re(actions) (a commentary on Trump's 100 days in office with spoken text from the U.S. Constitution), at Art on Site on April 29, 2017. We then showed Variation(s) (based on Bach's Goldberg Variations) on May 6 at Jennifer Muller Studio; Inter(actions) (an improv with Korean flutist Seungmin Cha) on May 14 at Green Space Studio; Interpretation(s) (three dances to early twentieth-century experimental music) on May 23 at Eden's Expressway; FALLscapes (a celebration of the season with Autumn Leaves, nature sounds, and Autumn in New York) at Bridge for Dance on October 28, 2017.

We began 2018 with Transmission 126 (a dance quintet with live electronics by Dafna Naphtali) at Triskelion on January 26, (reprised at Spoke the Hub on January 29 and 30, 2018); then presented Let Me Tell You (a multi-media performance with video and poetry) at Triskelion on April 29, 2018 (reprised at CHI Movement Arts in Philadelphia on May 12, 2018) . We performed Wind Spirits at Dance Astoria on May 20, June Wind at the International Human rights Arts Festival on June 18, and Repeat/Replace (structured improv with accumulation and self-conduction) at The Dance Company (UK) showcase at Gibney Downtown on June 28 . Our Fall 2018 performances include Meantime (an experiment in sharing) on November 6 at Dixon Place, Unity ( an improvised work that unites dancers through movements flowing together as one) on November 18 at Green Space Studio, and Pina Colada (an interpretation of Pina Bausch’s Cafe Muller) on December 1 at Jennifer Muller Studio.

In 2019, we reprised Replace/Repeat on February 1 and 2 at Spoke the Hub and on February 27 reprised Pina Colada at New Works Theater. On June 1 we presented Pathways (an exploration of form with live bass clarinet music) at Hudson Guild Theater and reprised it in June 7 at Mark Morris Dance Center. We began our Fall 2019 season with Breaking Out (an exploration of love with live flute music) on October 20 at Green Space Studio and reprised it at 122 Community Center on October 22. .We presented The Dancer Body(an exploration of the dancers’ relationship to their bodies) at a benefit for Borne Dance Company on November 16.

In 2020 we presented Perceptions (ensemble members created painting and interpreted it in performance) at Stage Dive at Triskelion in January and Winter Follies at Spoke the Hub in February, and Games (an application of conducted improv to pedestrian movements in sports) at The Floor in March.

In 2021, we performed When We Connect at SLDT on June 6th (a exploration of our isolation and new community as we emerge from the pandemic), the a duet By the Sea on June 12th at the Coney Island Dance Fe sstival