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2017 Hudson River Dance Festival to Showcase Breathtaking Artists on the Hudson Waterfront

Hudson River Park, one of the nation's longest waterfront parks and an urban oasis for New Yorkers and visitors from all over the world, will be the backdrop for a visually and culturally breathtaking dance program featuring the crème de la crème of contemporary and modern dance at the third annual Hudson River Dance Festival, taking place at Pier 63 inHudson River Park.

The free Festival is a distinctly New York artistic celebration that brings together master dancers from renowned dance companies and spirited emerging artists in a thrilling night of artistry under the stars. Taking place on Thursday, June 8th and Friday, June 9th at 6:30 p.m., the same program will be featured each evening.

The acclaimed National Dance Institute, Ronald K. Brown/EVIDENCE, Wendy Whelan and Brian Brooks, and Complexions Contemporary Ballet have each prepared programs that highlight the rich cultural spirit of New York City while seamlessly blending with the natural surroundings of the Park; set on a stage overlooking the Hudson River, the performers appear to be dancing right on the surface of the water. The Hudson River Dance Festival is sponsored and presented by SHS Foundation in association with The Joyce Theater, with funding from the Hudson River Park Trust.

"New York City has such a celebrated history of cultural arts, and being able to help make performances of this caliber available for everyone in the community is so important to us at SHS," said Richard Feldman, President of the SHS Foundation. "The stunning background of the Hudson River at sunset only exemplifies the beauty of the art of dance, and makes this event one people won't forget."

The Hudson River Dance Festival is part of an ongoing commitment by the Hudson River Park Trust to present free and low cost cultural, artistic and educational programming for all visitors to the Park's Manhattan's waterfront location from 59th Street to Chambers Street, on the West Side.

"This year's Hudson River Dance Festival features some of the most artistically distinctive and culturally diverse programming ever offered in one program," said Madelyn Wils, CEO and President of the Hudson River Park Trust. "We are so grateful to have support again this year from The SHS Foundation and The Joyce Theater Foundation, who make it possible for us to bring these extraordinary performances to our community members for free. We invite everyone to join us as the sun sets in Hudson River Park on June 8th and 9th."

"I am thrilled that The Joyce is collaborating again with Hudson River Park on this free outdoor dance festival, bringing the industry's top dance companies together for two beautiful evenings on the riverfront," says Linda Shelton, the Executive Director of The Joyce Theater Foundation. "It was a joy to curate this year's program and help all of New York celebrate modern dance in one of the best ways we could imagine for the summer."

Founded in 1976 by legendary New York City Ballet principal dancer Jacques d'Amboise, National Dance Institute (NDI)uses dance and music to instill in students a love of the arts, a passion for learning, and a desire to strive for their personal best. At the root of NDI's methodology is the belief that the arts have a unique power to engage all children-regardless of background, ability, or socio-economic status-and motivate them toward excellence. NDI's programs are enriching the lives of 6,500 children in 41 New York City schools each week. The wildly talented student dancers, ranging in age from fourth to eighth grade, will be performing excerpts from their 2017 Event of the Year, Harlem Night Song, at the Dance Festival.

For over three decades, EVIDENCE, founded by Ronald K. Brown and based in Brooklyn, New York, has focused on the seamless integration of traditional African dance with contemporary choreography and spoken word. Through work, Evidence provides a unique view of human struggles, tragedies, and triumphs. Brown uses movement as a way to reinforce the importance of community in African American culture and to acquaint audiences with the beauty of traditional African forms and rhythms. This summer, Hudson River Park audiences will have the pleasure of witnessing a performance of Gatekeepers, a striking dance that depicts dancers as "soldiers walking toward heaven, searching for the wounded and looking out to make a safe haven for others to follow."

In 2013, former New York City Ballet superstar Wendy Whelan entered the world of contemporary dance when she and four choreographic collaborators performed in Restless Creature. A program highlight was First Fall, a duet in which she partnered with choreographer and dancer Brian Brooks. This year, Dance Festival attendees will be fortunate enough to witness this electric duet with a coveted performance of First Fall. Described as "luminous" and a "tour de force" (Boston Globe) and "instantly intimate" (Chicago Tribune), First Fall is a testimony to the personal friendship and effervescent artistic chemistry which emerged from these two collaborators.

Combining technical precision, power and passion, Complexions Contemporary Ballet transcends tradition in a groundbreaking mix of styles ranging from ballet to hip hop. Founded by former members of Alvin Ailey, Desmond Richardson and Dwight Rhoden, the company has been featured several times on the hit show So You Think You Can Dance; this year the Company kicks convention to the side with Strum, an exhilarating work set to America's iconic and beloved heavy metal band Metallica. With classic songs "Bleeding Me," and "Fixxxer," Strum, at once, unleashes the rebel and embraces the tender heart. Complexions Contemporary Ballet makes it "sensationally, jaw-droppingly clear that we live in the age of the super-dancer, at a time when technical virtuosity is being redefined as an expressive state" Dance Magazine.

The Joyce Theater Foundation has served the dance community and its audiences since 1982 and played an integral role in developing the Hudson River Dance Festival program to appeal to a wide array of dance performance enthusiasts and newcomers alike. The Joyce's free outdoor programming initiatives are made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature; as well as supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council with special thanks to Council Member Corey Johnson.

For more information about the Hudson River Dance Festival, or to learn about other Summer 2017 events in HudsonRiver Park, visit www.hudsonriverpark.org/events.

Hudson River Park, which extends from Chambers Street to 59th Street along Manhattan's west side, is the longest waterfront park in the United States. This free, urban recreational oasis is home to award-winning skate parks, playgrounds, sports fields, gardens and nature exhibits, boating and maritime activities, art installations, and myriad year-round events that celebrate the diverse cultures and neighborhoods along its shores. The Park plays a critical role in protecting the Hudson River ecosystem, and though it receives no public operating funds from state and local government, its development has transformed four miles of decaying piers and parking lots into a premier New York City destination for local residents and visitors alike. The non-profit, Friends of Hudson River Park helps to ensure the Park's ongoing sustainability by serving as its primary source of fundraising, advocacy and support, working in concert with the Hudson River Park Trust, the city-state entity that oversees its design, construction, operation and maintenance. For more information, please visit www.hudsonriverpark.org. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram: @HudsonRiverPark, and LIKE us on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/HudsonRiverPark. Download the Hudson River Park Summer of Fun Mobile Events App, on iOS andAndroid for event info on the go.

The Joyce Theater Foundation ("The Joyce" Executive Director, Linda Shelton), a nonprofit organization, has proudly served the dance community for over three decades. Under the direction of founders Cora Cahan and Eliot Feld, Ballet Tech Foundation acquired and The Joyce renovated the Elgin Theater in Chelsea. Opening as The Joyce Theater in 1982, it was named in honor of Joyce Mertz, beloved daughter of LuEsther T. Mertz. It was LuEsther's clear, undaunted vision and abundant generosity that made it imaginable and ultimately possible to build the theater. Ownership was secured by The Joyce in 2015. The theater is one of the only theaters built by dancers for dance and has provided an intimate and elegant home for over 400 U.S.-based and international companies. The Joyce has also presented dance at Lincoln Center since 2012, and launched Joyce Unleashed in 2014 to feature emerging and experimental artists. To further support the creation of new work, The Joyce maintains longstanding commissioning and residency programs. Local students and teachers (K-12th grade) benefit from its school program, and family and adult audiences get closer to dance with access to artists. The Joyce's annual season of about 48 weeks of dance now includes over 340 performances for audiences in excess of 150,000. Visit Joyce.org for more information.

National Dance Institute, a non-profit organization, was founded by world-renowned New York City Ballet dancer Jacques d'Amboise in the belief that the arts have a unique power to engage children and motivate them towards excellence. NDI's professional teaching artists foster in children a love of the arts and curiosity about the world, help them develop personal standards of excellence and cultivate a confidence in themselves that supports their success in school and in life. NDI classes and performances integrate dance with music, literature and the visual arts. Over 2 million children have participated in NDI's core programs which are offered free to all children. Since 1995, NDI has been under the artistic leadership of Ellen Weinstein. For more information, visit www.nationaldance.org.

Founded by Ronald K. Brown in 1985 and based in Brooklyn, New York, Evidence, A Dance Company focuses on the seamless integration of traditional African dance with contemporary choreography and spoken word. Through work, Evidence provides a unique view of human struggles, tragedies, and triumphs. Brown uses movement as a way to reinforce the importance of community in African American culture and to acquaint audiences with the beauty of traditional African forms and rhythms. He is an advocate for the growth of the African American dance community and is instrumental in encouraging young dancers to choreograph and to develop careers in dance. The mission of Evidence is to promote understanding of the human experience in the African Diaspora through dance and storytelling and to provide sensory connections to history and tradition through music, movement, and spoken word, leading deeper into issues of spirituality, community responsibility and liberation.

Wendy Whelan was born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky. She began taking ballet lessons at the age of three. At age 9, she began intensive training at the Louisville Ballet Academy. In 1981, she auditioned for the School of American Ballet and was accepted to the summer program. A year later, she moved to New York to continue her studies there as a full-time student. In 1984, she was named an apprentice with New York City Ballet and in 1986, she joined the corps de ballet. Wendy went on to spend 30 years at New York City Ballet, 23 of those years as principal dancer. She has danced virtually every major Balanchine role, and worked closely with Jerome Robbins on many of his ballets. She originated leading roles in works by such notable choreographers as William Forsythe, Twyla Tharp, Alexei Ratmansky, Christopher Wheeldon, Jorma Elo, and Wayne McGregor. In 2007, Wendy was nominated for both an Olivier Award and a Critics Circle Award for her performances in London, of Christopher Wheeldon's work. Wendy has been a guest artist with The Royal Ballet and the Kirov Ballet and has performed on nearly every major stage across the globe. She received the Dance Magazine Award in 2007, and in 2009 was given a Doctorate of Arts, honoris causa, from Bellarmine University. In 2011, she received both The Jerome Robbins Award and a Bessie Award for her Sustained Achievement in Performance.

Choreographer Brian Brooks has recently been appointed as the inaugural Choreographer in Residence at Chicago's Harris Theater for Music and Dance. This innovative three-year fellowship supports several commissions for Brooks each season with the first year featuring Hubbard Street Dance Chicago and Miami City Ballet, as well as his own New York-based group. Brooks is the recipient of a 2013 Guggenheim Fellowship. Other recent awards include a NY City Center Fellowship and the Joyce Theater's Artist Residency. His work has toured nationally and internationally since 2002 with recent presentations by the Joyce Theater, Jacob's Pillow, the American Dance Festival, and BAM as part of their 2013 Next Wave Festival. The American Dance Institute, where Brooks is a member of the Artist Advisory Board, has presented his company three times and supported him with two Incubator Production Residencies. Brooks has created new dances at schools including The Juilliard School, The Boston Conservatory, The School at Jacob's Pillow, and Harvard University. He dedicated 12 years as a Teaching Artist of Dance at the Lincoln Center Institute for the Arts in Education and has been on the part-time faculties of both Rutgers University and Princeton University.

Complexions was founded in 1994 by Master Choreographer Dwight Rhoden and the legendary Desmond Richardson with a singular approach to reinventing dance through a groundbreaking mix of methods, styles and cultures. Today, Complexions represents one of the most recognized and respected performing arts brands in the World. Having presented an entirely new and exciting vision of human movement on 5-continents, over 20-countries, to over 20-million television viewers and to well over 300,000 people in live audiences, Complexions is poised to continue its mission of bringing unity to the world one dance at a time.

Getting There:
Hudson River Park's Pier 63 Lawn
23rd Street and the Hudson River - Chelsea
Take the 1, C or E to 23rd Street and walk west OR take the M23 bus to Twelfth Avenue and 24th Street.
Cross West Street at 22nd, 23rd or 24th Streets
Landmarks and Conveniences: Immediately north of the Chelsea Piers complex



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