Island Moving Co.’s Great Friends Touring Project is designed to bring IMC to new audiences and to bring new audiences to dance. Each year, for the Newport Dance Festival (formerly the Great Friends Dance Festival) in July, we invite a resident company to Newport for two weeks of studio time and performance; in return for a reciprocal performance in their home venue.
The Festival features mixed bills of IMC and guest artists. Dancers take class together; directors teach master classes; a commissioned choreographer creates a piece for all Festival dancers. Each night, a Festival choreographer opens the program with an Etude, a work that has been created that day on dancers who elect to participate. Besides the Etudes, at least a dozen new works have been created, as companies take advantage of the focused time together, away from the distractions of other jobs and obligations. Audiences are invited to talk forwards before each show and have opportunities to connect with the artists. Artistic Director Miki Ohlsen invites diverse companies doing excellent work from around the country, using a network of “great friends” — previous residency partners, choreographers and presenters. Since 2010, we have presented 28 companies from New York, Texas, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Missouri, Virginia, California and Almaty, Kazakhstan.