Dancers react to exhibitions at Art Omi in Ghent

Dancers react to exhibitions at Art Omi in Ghent

For dance artists whose body is their medium, the first requirement for creative exploration is a safe space to explore their limits. Providing this space is the main goal of Christopher Morgan, director of the annual summer dance residency at Art Omi in Ghent since 2006.

“These are unique circumstances for a residency program,” Morgan said in a recent interview. “These artists come together without knowing each other, out of a shared desire to meet new colleagues, to experiment, and to be supported. It’s a rare opportunity to step outside of yourself and transform your processes in a low-risk, high-support environment.”

The seven artists born in 2022 will present their new works and work-in-progress on Saturday from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. in Art Omi, on the grounds of the sculpture park and in the residency studios. The screening is free and open to the public.

The first four days of the almost three-week residency program are designed as an intensive process of getting to know each other, in which the dancers provide insights into their creative process. From there, “they build a trusting relationship from which they can dive into artistic risk-taking,” said Morgan, who spends the rest of his year in Makawao, Hawaii, where he is vice president of programming at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center .

Lavy, a queer dance artist from New York City, recalls working with another resident, Maya Billig, at the group’s first practice together.

“I looked at her and we all stood up in unison and went straight to this beautiful hollow silo in the field,” Lavy recalled. “We didn’t really talk much – we just walked into this area of ​​dirt and wood and just started. There was that initial surge of trust and excitement and caring, that kinaesthetic understanding between us. I was rolling in the dirt with a person I didn’t really know but felt so held by.”

It’s that kind of curiosity and openness that Morgan and the selection panel, which includes Omi board members and alumni, pay particular attention to when curating each year’s cohort.

Art Grandma Dance 2022

When: Saturday 5-7 p.m

Where: Art Omi, 1405 County Rt. 22, Ghent

Tickets: Free, reserve online


“When you’re in the frenzy of making art, your curiosity drives you to inquire, research and create, but then you get caught up in the machinery of manufacture and it’s difficult to keep feeding it,” Morgan mused. “There’s a retreat aspect to the residency – they get to recharge and explore with other curious artists in a very generous way.”

In addition to this commonality, the committee strives for diversity within the group – in terms of age, experience, geography and culture as well as education and approach. Lavy’s work combines queer discourse with physical dance theater and explores issues of identity and community building. Billig integrates dance, film and photography to create surreal worlds inspired by sources ranging from Edgar Allen Poe to old Hollywood westerns. Raymond Pinto, a 2013 Juilliard graduate, creates performance art pieces using the African and Latin American diaspora as a starting point. Ntege Moses, a native of Uganda, has specialized in traditional Ugandan dance forms, contemporary dance and Afro dance.

Aime Irasema is from Mexico City, where she has performed with the Center of Contemporary Dance Production. Cat Mahari brings a background in hip hop and house; She is a former member of the Gool Krump family and a student of Princess Lockeroo (known for reviving the disco-era dance style Waacking). Miriam Hermina began taking ballet classes in her hometown of Fulton, Maryland at age 9 and recently graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a degree in dance.

“We are fascinated by our differences and we all want to learn, to gain insight into each other’s processes and how this affects our practice, to take the time to question where we come from artistically,” Mahari said. “One of the perks of the residency is that we’re not focused on a product — it’s not about a product, it’s about the collaboration of artists and what that collaboration means.”

In recent weeks, projects have been sparked, come to natural conclusions, expanded and merged, Morgan said. Saturday’s attendees will see works created in response to four different sculptures in the park, along with works displayed in Omi’s giant barn, and also get a behind-the-scenes look.

While dance creators don’t take away completed pieces, they plant seeds that nourish their own work — and the dance world as a whole, Morgan says. Having mentored more than 160 residents from 41 countries over the past 16 years, he trusts the program to have a powerful ripple effect.

“I’m interested in shifting the hierarchies and power dynamics that have sometimes made dance an unhealthy environment for artists expressing this beautiful work — unfair pay structures, lack of support, tight deadlines,” he said. “It’s a big vision, but at the heart of it is how to create an environment where artists can have a rich and meaningful experience and feel deeply supported, valued and valued so that they, in turn, can go out and apply it to their work in the world.” communities in which they live worldwide.”

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