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Keshet Center for the Arts Brings Dance to the Community

By S. Mathur

With a mission "to inspire and unite community by fostering unlimited possibilities through dance, mentorship and a creative space for the arts", the Keshet Dance and Center for the Arts was founded in 1996 in Albuquerque. The non-profit offers community dance classes, mentoring, a dance company that tours globally and a performance space that brings the best of contemporary dance to the community.

"Uniting the arts, the artist and the audience, to engage, experience and be inspired through bold explorations of movement and celebrations of community," Communications Director Carolyn Tobias said. Dance programs include classes for all ages and levels, intensive pre-professional training, adaptive and physically-integrated dance, community engagement through dance to low-income, at-risk, homeless and incarcerated youth.

The Keshet Dance Company has been instrumental in launching the careers of aspiring dancers, Tobias said.

"It's one of a handful of companies across the United States that offers salaried employment for dancers," Tobias said. "Keshet engages dancers in multiple capacities from professional company performance including local, national and global touring, teaching and curriculum development for community dance classes including a broad spectrum of classes from ages two through adult, a pre-professional program for ages 8-18yrs and arts administration duties."

The Keshet Fellowship for Contemporary Dance offers choreographic residencies for artists. Year-round programming through the Keshet International Dance Festival brings global performances, master classes, makers space and other events to the local community. And returning the gift, there's the Keshet Dance Company, with a mandate for creation and touring. New works by local, national, and international choreographers are created locally, and from this home base, tour nationally and globally.

Serving as an incubator for the arts, the Keshet Ideas and Innovation Community is a resource center for arts entrepreneurs. It is the first of its kind in the state of New Mexico, and champions the value of the artist and the arts economy, Tobias said.

There's a strong focus on social justice through dance. The M3, or Movement + Mentorship = Metamorphosis, program engages incarcerated and paroled youth. The Movement for Mercy expands M3 through residencies and partnerships in twenty communities around the country and supports local and national juvenile justice reform.

Community performances include offerings like the signature Nutcracker on the Rocks and artSLAM, billed as The Ultimate Variety Show. It features live music, contemporary dance, stand-up comedy, and visual art, recalling shows like Saturday Night Live , The Tonight Show and The Ed Sullivan Show.

In New Mexico, the arts are an important part of the economy. By helping artists succeed, the Keshet Center for the Arts lays the groundwork for the the future of the community.

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