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Art of Business Kaatsbaan 

click to enlarge ZviDance performs “On the Road,” created during a Kaatsbaan residency by Zvi Gotheimer and performed at Kaatsbaan.
  • ZviDance performs “On the Road,” created during a Kaatsbaan residency by Zvi Gotheimer and performed at Kaatsbaan.

En Pointe

Kaatsbaan, in Tivoli, is an internationally renowned "cultural park for dance" founded in 1990 by four young dancers with Woodstock homes. Today, Kaatsbaan hosts residencies for up to 20 dance companies a year; in 2016, over 200 professionals from Singapore, Spain, France, Italy, Argentina, Cuba, Brazil, Japan, Canada, New York, and nearly every state performed in their black-box theater. Given that thousands of young creatives have dreamed of buying a farm and inviting their favorite colleagues to hang out, we asked co-founder Gregory Cary how this group made it real.

So what was the path from performers to founders?

We formed a 501(c)3, non-profit organization and created a model, an upstate creative-residency center for dance. The Dutchess County Department of Planning and Development helped us write an 86-page business plan to present to the IDA. They liked it and financed the purchase of Tivoli Farms and the construction of studios and the 160-seat black box theater with a $3.9 million bond. Two years later, Governor Pataki kicked in $1.25 million for onsite housing and we launched a major dance residency program.

So clearly your model's been well-received.

New York Theatre Ballet soloist Steven Melendez says he looks forward to the company's return in 2018, "because I feel so very comfortable there." Choreographer Doug Varone says he does some of his best work "when I'm alone at Kaatsbaan, just listening." ZviDance director Zvi Gotheimer called Kaatsbaan "a passionate vision of community in a modern age." Exactly what we intended.

What is Extreme Ballet? Isn't ballet extreme to begin with?

In the winter, we go to 18 cities and audition over 500 pre-professional dancers, ages 13 to 18, and we bring 120 of them here for nine weeks of intensive training, and that's Extreme Ballet®. The competition to get in is tough; the work is intensely focused and hard, which is the only way a dancer will ever achieve their goals.

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