Boston’s premiere contemporary dance company, Urbanity Dance, is excited to make their inaugural trip to Orlando, Florida in November to perform and hold master classes with Yow Dance, an emerging modern dance company in Central Florida. The excitement of this trip stems from the fact that Betsi Graves, Founder and Artistic Director of Urbanity Dance, hails from Orlando. A graduate of Bishop Moore High School in 2000, Graves says, "I am thrilled to bring this cutting-edge dance company back to celebrate my dancing roots in Orlando. I have always believed that the dance culture in Orlando has exceptional potential." Yow Dance fills the void for contemporary dance in the area, much like Urbanity does for Boston. "This show is going to be fierce," says Graves.
Orlando artists often bring a background of amusement park showmanship that is truly unique. Graves has sought to contribute that to her efforts at Urbanity:
"The entertainment culture in Orlando offers the creative outside-the-box thinking that I love. For instance, when I dreamed of props for our first production, I pictured a human sized hamster wheel, birdcage, and conveyer belt. People told me it couldn’t be done on the budget we had. But being from Orlando and attending Disney World every single Sunday as a little girl, I am a dreamer! So we hired volunteer students from Boston Architectural College to create the sets, and they turned out amazing! I often try to bring this kind of accessible ’wow factor’ entertainment into my choreography in Boston, and it’s been really successful."
Urbanity has indeed been wildly successful since its inception in 2008. It has grown from just a handful of friends putting pieces together to over 30 dancers (six paid), as well as paid full-time and part-time administrative employees, and its own studio rehearsal space. These changes are unheard of for a company so young. A Boston Magazine even voted Urbanity "Best Boston Dance Company" for 2012.
Urbanity will open the second act for Yow Dance performing Larry Keigwin’s critically celebrated AIR on November 9-11. This entertaining and technically strong piece was first performed in 2008 and reset on Urbanity earlier in 2012. In the first part of AIR, the dancers are dressed as flight attendants and mime flight attendant speech to Tim Webb’s Up, Up and Away. AIR closes to a Philip Glass uplifting composition; the dancers appear like birds flying on air, constantly moving, diving in and out of lifts and sweeping turns, formations that ceaselessly weave in and out, like birds on migration. Graves herself feels like a bird in migration, now returning home with her new flock. "It’s definitely a homecoming of sorts. I’m grateful to Yow Dance for welcoming us to share their show, and I hope that my Orlando friends will come out to see what I’ve been up to the last twelve years."
Urbanity Dance is a Boston-based contemporary dance company that celebrated its fourth anniversary in May 2012. Urbanity’s twenty company dancers come from strong technical backgrounds in dance, and use formal training in performances that aim to push boundaries and affect change. Community workshops and open classes celebrate accessibility to the arts, and performances are often a product of cross-disciplinary collaboration with other local musicians, fashion designers, even architects. Just four years old, Urbanity has been recognized as Boston’s strongest contemporary jazz/modern company to date and has been invited to perform in venues across the U.S., including Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival in the Berkshires, the Dance Gallery Festival in Houston, and the Alvin Ailey Citigroup Theater in New York. Most recently, Urbanity was awarded Best of Boston’s 2012 Dance Company by the Improper Bostonian. In summer 2012, Urbanity hosted the inaugural Boston Contemporary Dance Festival and its first-ever Summer Dance Intensive.