After 10 years and financial worries, Philly dance company still on its feet

For a decade, Leah Stein has choreographed major works tailored to local places. Her “Battle Hymns” was created for the Armory on 23rd Street, with 90 voices of the Mendelssohn Choir singing a piece by Pulitzer-winning composer David Lang. More recently she created for the Japanese House in Fairmount Park.

But her 10-year anniversary celebration almost didn’t happen. The money dried up.

“We had scheduled and publicized our 10th anniversary concert in December 2011 because, technically, it’s 2011 that we turned 10,” said Stein. “We had a board meeting, and it was so sobering. There was no way, we just had no way to do it.”

Stein canceled that show but, with the help of Philadelphia Dance Projects, a presenting organization, the show will go on. Four performances this weekend of her dance company will feature many of her site-specific works adapted for the stage of the Performance Garage.

After 10 years, it doesn’t get easier.

“It is so challenging, it is so impractical. There’s … no formula at all,” said Stein “There [are] models out there and best practices, but there’s the reality of very unstable funding, and economy, and even desire for dance.”

In May, another Philadelphia choreographer, Jeanne Ruddy, will fold her company after 12 years.  She has said it is not for economic reasons.

Younger dance companies — such as anonymous bodies and Miro Dance — are experimenting with new organization models that move away from pure dance and toward collaborative and multi-media performances.

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