Local dance company funds its own show

Almost Porcelain, a new performance by the New Haven-based dance company Elm City Dance Collective, will premier this spring in large part owing to a fundraising campaign the group launched on Kickstarter.

Company members succeeded in raising $5,035 in 30 days — exceeding their fundraising goal by nearly $900. The company is gearing up for its first evening-length performance of the piece, which will premier this spring. Choreographed and directed by Kellie Ann Lynch, one of the four dance artists responsible for ECDC’s founding in 2008, Almost Porcelain will premier in Providence, R.I., in March and in New Haven in May. The performance is a multimedia exploration of notions such as self-perception, perfection and beauty, Lynch explained. The production will feature work by composer and vocalist Noah Ratzan, visual artist Jennifer Brubacher and filmmaker Melissa Kane.

“We are committed as an organization to creating and presenting dance in new and different ways, and this project certainly does just that, by blending design, sound, film and dance together to create an innovative and entertaining experience for the audience,” said Emilia VandenBroek, one of the dancers in the production and another of ECDC’s founding members.

Company members decided to use Kickstarter, an online donation platform, to raise the requisite funds for the performance. The company began the project without any funds, Lynch explained, adding that members thought of Kickstarter as the most expedient way to raise money. Kate Seethaler, another member of Almost Porcelain’s cast, noted that she thinks Kickstarter was a good choice because the platform harnesses the power of social media and offers donors a limited window to act, ensuring that funds are received in a timely manner. Potential contributors, she added, can see “exactly what their money is going towards” — the project’s Kickstarter page includes a video in which dancers and choreographers speak about the project and rehearse for the show. Seethaler said she thinks the video effectively captured the cast’s excitement for the project.

Despite the success of the Kickstarter campaign, Lynch explained, funding is still the biggest obstacle Almost Porcelain will have to overcome. In particular, finding the money to pay dancers can be challenging, she said.

“We all do it because not dancing is not an option for us. If the experience is positive and we’re all growing as artists and human beings, getting paid doesn’t really matter. But it’d be nice to be able to say, ‘Hey dancers, here’s a check for all of your hard work.’”

As the piece enters its final preparatory stages before its Rhode Island premiere on Mar. 27, several of the dancers mentioned the long hours they have been putting into the show, highlighting the collaboration between the choreographer and the cast that is intrinsic to the project.

VandenBroek said she appreciates the project’s origins in a personal, yet relatable topic, adding that she thinks that Almost Porcelain’s emphasis on exploring ideals of beauty renders it particularly interesting. Lynch explained that the piece grew out of her attempts to grapple with such ideals in recent years.

“We all have to make our own peace with impossible beauty ideals in this culture, and it is satisfying to explore this through dance,” VandenBroek said.

Almost Porcelain will premiere on May 9 at Off Broadway Theatre.

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