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Sandy-Damaged RH Dance Studio Presses on With 2013 Season

By Alan Neuhauser | December 6, 2012 2:50pm

RED HOOK — Despite having to start searching for a new home because of damage to its Red Hook studio caused by Hurricane Sandy, Cora Dance pressed on with the opening of its 2013 dance season.

From Feb. 28 to March 2, and March 5 to 9, the studio will stage "Down Here," a 30- to 45-minute work choreographed by artistic director Shannon Hummel and performed by dancer/education manager Katie Dean and dancer Calia Marshall.

"It's very much about relationships between two people and trying to always figure out what you're trying to get out of the relationship, but also trying to figure out what this other person needs from you," Hummel said. The show is also about "the impossibility, really, of understanding someone else's point of view and being able to 100 percent meet the needs and desires of someone else."

Each weekend after the opening performance, the dance will be preceded by a different work created by a guest choreographer: a dance by Nadia Tykulsker on March 1 and 2, another by Courtney Cooke on March 6 and 8 and a third by Dean on March 7 and 9.

For the Feb. 28 debut, "Down Here" will be accompanied by a sneak peak of Hummel's "Common Dances," performed by dancers Sarah Burke and Solomon Goodwin. The show will then be followed by a cocktail reception and discussion at the Red Hook home of John Hockenberry, host of NPR's "The Takeaway" and the winner of four Emmy awards and four Peabody awards.

Tickets are not yet on sale.

"Down Here" has taken on added significance since Hurricane Sandy. Although Hummel has been developing the work for about a year and a half, she said many residents seeing the show's name since the new season was announced have taken it to be a reference to Red Hook and, by extension, the damage the neighborhood suffered in the storm.

"There's a new context that feels very connected to what's going on in Red Hook right now," she said.

In particular, there is a portion of the show where the stage floods with aluminum foil balls.

"I was like, 'Whoa, this has an entirely more immediate context than it ever did before,'" she said. "It definitely has a tone of — I think it has a tone of trying to, I don't want to say survive, but trying to negotiate what others need while trying to take care of yourself."

The storm dealt Cora Dance a mortal blow — barely a month after the studio completed major renovations on the space. Although the studio is located on the second story of its building at 201 Richards St., salt floodwater on the ground floor fried the property's electrical systems.

"What the electricians have told us is that it's safe to turn on right now, but the corrosion is going to set in," Hummel said.

"Somewhere in the range of eight months and two years, the electrical system is not going to be able to run a theater. The corrosion is going to diminish the capacity of the electrical system."

The studio is still able to offer classes, which are widely popular, and it will stage performances for as long as possible. But Hummel is also starting to look toward the next step — namely the search for a new home for Cora Dance in Red Hook.

"We'll figure it out," Hummel said. "We have to. We don't have a choice. Our plan is to stick around for a long, long time."