The 92nd Street Y, New York (92NY), one of New York’s leading cultural venues, presents Dance to Belong: A History of Dance at 92NY, a new exhibition in celebration of 92NY’s 150 years of dedication to artists and community. Dance to Belong will be on view in the Weill Art Gallery from March 12, 2024, until Oct 31, 2024. The exhibition testifies to 92NY as a key site in dance and belonging. Photographs, performance programs, artwork, digital media, rare film footage, and other unseen ephemera render 92NY’s crucial place as a preeminent cultural institution located in the heart of New York City.

 This singular exhibition illuminates 92NY’s historical importance as a sanctuary space in which dance history is made. Immigrants, BIPOC, and Jewish dance artists from 1874, when 92NY first opened its doors, to 2024 have made 92NY home. In its early years, 92NY was one of the only places that offered access to dance studios, classes, lectures, and performances for people of all racial, ethnic, religious, or cultural backgrounds. Co-curated by Jessica Friedman, PhD, and Ninotchka Bennahum, PhD with Jeanne Haffner, PhD of Thinc Design. 

 Since its inception, The 92nd Street Y has welcomed and supported the leading lights of American contemporary dance, taking risks to nurture artists before anyone knew who they were, providing a space for people of all racial, ethnic, religious and cultural backgrounds to develop and present their work, when other doors were closed. 92NY became a place of refuge with the opening of Kaufmann and Buttenwieser Halls, offering open access to dance studios, classes, lectures, poetry readings, and performances. From the Afro-Diasporic roots of Katherine Dunham to the Soviet, Asian, and Caribbean choreographies of Si-lan Chen, 92NY luminaries challenged the emerging modern dance field to incorporate both cultural and national diversity. Dance as a force for belonging was echoed in the concert dance works selected by The Dance Center when it opened its doors in 1934 under the direction of exiled Habima artist Benjamin Zemach. Dr. William Kolodney succeeded Zemach the following year, remaining in his post until 1969.

 The Milton J. Weill Art Gallery is open to patrons of Kaufmann Concert Hall during regularly scheduled events. Viewing hours are Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 3 pm – 5 pm and Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday from 9 am – 11 am. In addition, special viewing hours can be arranged. 

This article was provided courtesy of 92NY.

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