Dance/NYC, a nonprofit and advocacy group, provided 20 studios across the five boroughs with grants to make their rentals more affordable. The $2 million has been a lifeline for the dance community. But, the two-year initiative ends this year, making the future of accessible dance training uncertain.
An average dance class in the city costs $28, so Forager Theater Company’s Jennie Hughes launched pay-as-you-wish classes. A regular renter at Open Jar studios in the heart of Times Square, Hughes hopes more studios in the city can offer cheaper rates to support dancers in training.
The realities of renting a studio means that Neil Mitchell, co-founder of Ballet Imagination on Staten Island, needs at least eight students in class to make a profit. Mitchell aims to own his own studio in the future, but for now uses a space in Snug Harbor’s Cultural Center, named after his late wife Leah Mitchell.
Marine Saint visited Hughes and Mitchell at their classes to witness how the grant is sustaining local companies and their dancers.