New York Dance Festival

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The New York Dance Festival ([1]) is a multi-cultural festival of performing arts with three milestone events in the city of the world; New York City and with an annual multi week international festival each summer in Auburn, New York the heart of the beautiful Finger Lakes. Boasting history that includes the homes of Harriet Tubman and William Seward and the Merry Go Round Playhouse, the Festival is hosted by one of the region’s only African American led performing arts organizations. The Festival Dance Festival has become one of the nation's most novel cultural expressions and brings the world-class arts scene of New York City and the world to Upstate New York. The New York Dance Festival runs for two weeks in July, and includes the New York Summer Dance Intensive, with additional offerings of the New York Drum Festival, the New York Musical Theatre Project, the Carmen De Lavallade[1][2] Awards for Dance,[3] the Thommie Walsh[4] Song & Dance Man Gala, Fellowships, Residencies, and a World Class Concert Series.

The precursor to today’s New York Dance Festival began at the New York Dance Studio in Auburn, NY in the winter of 1990 founded by Sean McLeod. Shortly after that time, SUNY Purchase alumni Thomas Warfield and Roxanna Young were brought to the Finger Lakes Region of New York by their classmate, Sean McLeod, Artistic Director of the Kaleidoscope Dance Theatre, to teach the classic styles of modern dance and ballet they learned while studying at the Purchase Conservatory of Dance, 40 minutes outside of New York City. In the early years, Kaleidoscope Dance Theatre’s Artistic Director Sean McLeod forged a partnership with Cayuga Community College, Director of Student Services Joy Shortell, and past college President Dr. Larry Poole, along with Purchase Conservatory of Dance alum to create this artistic platform. Additional guest artists invited to join the faculty included; Laurie Lubeck (American Ballet Theatre) and Sheryl Woodmansee (Washington Ballet) to teach in sessions twice a year (known as the Kaleidoscope Dance Theatre Winter and Summer Dance Intensives). In 1999, the name was changed and the New York Dance Festival was established. The Festival has grown in notoriety and size for providing an ever-increasing roster of opportunities through its world-class faculty, collaborative initiatives, presentational genres, and corporate economic partnerships. Under this new direction, the Festival includes not only dance but an international Drum Festival, national Musical Theatre Project, acclaimed visual arts exhibits, and World-Class Concert Series that provides opportunities to participate to both performers and the general public.

As an additional step for multi-generational, multi-cultural, and cross-economic participation, this worldwide cultural offering is one of the only non-audition Festivals of its caliber. This program serves a wide range of participants from the untrained to the world-class professional; from all economic and social levels.

The New York Dance Festival is hosted by the New York Institute of Dance and Education in association with the Kaleidoscope Dance Theatre, Inc. (a not for profit 501 c3 organization) and has included major support by New York State Council for the Arts, Altria, Alex G. Nason Foundation, the New England Foundation for the Arts, Tompkins Trust Company, the Citizen Newspaper, Cultural Resource Center, Schweinfurth Memorial Arts Center, Cayuga/Onondaga BOCES, Finger Lakes Arts and Grants Services, Assemblyman Gary Finch’s office,[5][6] Governor Pataki’s office, Senator Michael Nozzolio's office,[7][8] Senator Hillary Clinton's Office, Congressman Mike Arcuri and the City of Auburn.

Today, The New York Dance Festival is a unique dance experience whose foundation was constructed by Sean McLeod to champion empowering women and build their self esteem. At the Festival women and men of all ages work in an environment where consistent focus is given to correcting the tradition that a person has to be broken by the industry before they can find their greatness. The New York Dance Festival has locked emotional development and good mental health into the DNA of its dance offering. Good dancing is not our goal, it is our vehicle. It is a place where teachers come to rejuvenate and interact with like minded dance masters. Practicing these life changing principles through movement gives the dancers an opportunity to see if happiness is a better way to learn dance. At the festival we aim to partner with everyone, celebrate the greatness of effort, and challenge ourselves to grow in the face of our fears.

The New York Dance Festival continues to attract performers, teachers, and distinguished guests from around the world, with critically acclaimed classes, guest lecturers, and a Gala Event, the two-week Festival is known to have created a world stage for dance, drumming, and music in the Finger Lakes.

As an additional step for multi-generational, multi-cultural, and cross-economic participation, this world-wide cultural offering is one of the only non-audition Festivals of its caliber that offers "never danced before" to world-class arts training in the USA, allowing low-income and first-time dancers and audiences to be exposed to the power of change through communication, self betterment and dance.

External links

Distinguished Guests, Faculty, and Companies

Distinguished guests, faculty, and performing arts companies have hailed from legendary dance icon Carmen de Lavallade, international performing artist and Dean of Dance at RIT Thomas Warfield,[9] PeaceArt International,[10] professional dancer Roxanna Young, Broadway giant Garth Fagan, international dancer and choreographer Gregory Livingston, Senator Michael Nozzolio, Assemblyman Gary Finch,[11] Congressmen Mike Arcuri, Senator Hillary Clinton's office, PeaceArt International, Resident Photographer for the National Museum of Dance Mark Andrew, acclaimed dance photographer Rose Eichenbaum, German dance photographer Merit Ester Engelke, Rochester City Ballet and Artistic Director Jamey Leverett, founding member of multi-platinum band Rusted Root, Jim Donovan,[12] Drum the Ecstatic International Tour, DanceArt Hong Kong, Broadway star Noah Racey, Denver choreographer and dancer Jacob Mora, Denver Colorado's Moraporvida Modern Dance, Broadway producers Jon and Jeanne Cutler, Laurie Lubeck (American Ballet Theatre), professional dancer and choreographer Matthew Clark, Carol Bryan of the Stamford Center for the Arts and formerly of American Ballet Theatre, Betty Chamberlain formerly of American Ballet Theatre, UNLV professor and choreographer Victoria Dale, New York City professional choreographer and dancer Doug Shankman, international performing artist and music producer Brian Morey,[13] world fitness champion and professional dancer Tina Thompson,[14] Tina Thompson Dance Theatre, Philadelphia dance educator Chauntee Andrews, world-traveling director and Shakespearean laureate Joe Siracusa, guitar virtuoso and music producer Emmett Van Slyke, NYU musical director and Off-Broadway composer Paul L. Johnson, NYC tap dance sensation Alexander Cowings, original cast member of Broadway's The Lion King Mark Davis, African Hand Drummer and new dance personality Jerami Kipp, NYC Casting Director Michael Cassara, NYC & Metropolitan Opera professional dancer Jacqueline Scafidi, Van Couver British Columbia choreographer, professional dancer and educator Brenna McLaud, African Drum Master from Accra, Ghana Etsé Nyadedzor and Adanfo African Drum and Dance Ensemble, Elie Kihonia Drum Master from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Middle Eastern drumming master Daveed Korup, professional dancer Jennifer Cleary, NYC's Break Dance Company GNT Entertainment, Broadway performer Susan Derry, NYC professional stage and screen actor Kevin T. Collins, professional dancer Ann Whitbeck, the Chinese Dance Company.


The concept of true multicultural diversity in the arts has challenged national establishments for many years. Having a recognized multicultural event is a crucial part of any city’s or region's tourism and economic campaign.[15][16][17] However, when you see a city that has a commitment to having black and multicultural artistic organizations as well, you see a city’s whose growth is booming.[18][19] As one of only a few African American run organizations in Auburn and Cayuga County, the social implication and impact of a successful event of this magnitude, conceived and led by a person of color, is enormous.

The reach of the New York Dance Festival has been demonstrated in the established attendance and equally by the participation of some of the world's most noted performing personalities that hail from around the world.

The New York Dance Festival also serves a hidden but equally important objective: Presenting a world-class faculty (including many women and/or African Americans) who model the successful habits of life and business. Each educator is hand picked because of their ability to inspire people of all ages, ethnicity, gender, demographic, and skill. The educators use dance, musical theater, and drumming to teach skills that are transferable to other parts of life and to instill habits, manners, and techniques necessary for successful integration into society and to surpass stereotypical limitations.

The New York Dance Festival is nationally recognized, and executive produced by multi-award winning international producer and choreographer, Sean McLeod.


  1. Great Performances: Carmen de Lavallade
  2. The HistoryMakers: Carmen de Lavallade
  3. Westchester Woman Standing O's: Carol Walker Receives Carmen De Lavallade Award for Dance
  4. Thommie Walsh: March 15, 1950 - June 16, 2007
  5. Assemblyman Gary Finch Secures Grant
  6. NYIDE News: Assemblyman Finch Secures Grant
  7. Senator Michael Nozzolio presents NY State's Highest Honor, the NY State Senate Liberty Award, to Sean McLeod
  8. NYIDE News: Senator Michael Nozzolio Presents Liberty Award
  9. Celebrate the Moment: Thomas Warfield
  10. PeaceArt International at the NY Dance Festival
  11. Photos: Gary D. Finch at the New York Dance Festival
  12. Jim Donovan, multi-platinum founding member of Rusted Root, directed the NY Drum Festival
  13. Zoom Info: Brian Morey at the NY Musical Theatre Project
  14. Dance Fitness Guru, Tina Thompson at the NY Dance Festival
  15. Cayuga County Tourism: New York Dance Festival
  16. Lake Life: Art Motivates Life
  17. Notables in the Skaneateles Community
  18. Historic & Cultural Auburn, NY
  19. City of Auburn, NY: Educational Links