Dance Institute’s Sneak Peek Event Introduces New ‘Lumberyard’  

Jodi Melnick (photo Stephanie Berger)

Jodi Melnick (photo Stephanie Berger)

(CATSKILL, N.Y.) – Dancer-choreographers Jodi Melnick, Steven Reker, and Dan Hurlin will perform excerpts from their work at American Dance Institute’s “End of Summer Shindig” – which will also mark the debut of the organization’s reinvention as a multidisciplinary performing arts organization called Lumberyard, paying tribute to the new space being renovated at a former lumberyard on the village waterfront – on Saturday, September 17, from 5 to 8pm. The event will also feature live music provided by Buckeye Rooster.

Lumberyard is at 62 Water Street in Catskill, N.Y., 12414.

Having successfully presented its first season of performances in New York City in June and broken ground on a state-of-the-art new home in Catskill in May, the dance institute, newly reconstituted as Lumberyard, continues to grow in both vision and capacity. Assuming the name Lumberyard, after the heralded arts center it is building on the Hudson River waterfront, the organization will expand to support the development of new works across the performing arts — including, but not limited to, contemporary dance. When Lumberyard’s new headquarters open in spring 2018, they will allow the organization to drastically expand its activities, especially its Incubator program, and will contribute to the village’s revitalization efforts.

Hudson Valley-based architect Richard Rothe of Rothe Engineering has designed the complex, being built at the former Dunn Builders Supply complex, which consists of a main lumberyard building in Catskill and three large adjacent barns along Catskill Creek. Phase I of the renovation, the 30,000-sq.-ft. main building, began in May and will include a large, column-free flexible theater designed by Christopher D. Buckley of Production & Performance Facility Consulting (Baryshnikov Arts Center, Gibney Dance); a lobby; administrative offices; housing for up to 20 resident artists; a chef’s kitchen; an artist lounge; and a public courtyard.

Phase II of the project, for which a start date has not been set, encompasses the three adjacent structures, which Lumberyard will develop in collaboration with the Village of Catskill and in line with the Village’s Downtown and Waterfront Revitalization Strategy. One barn will house a large dance studio.

Groundbreaking event for Lumberyard

Groundbreaking event for Lumberyard

Once open in 2018, Lumberyard’s summer season will comprise premiere and work-in-progress performances by celebrated professional artists and companies, serving local residents and attracting tourists from across New York and beyond. From October through April, the facility will be available for collaborative residencies, subsidized and commercial rentals, and community programming.

The organization has also added senior staff, who will work from the Lumberyard’s NYC headquarters, and consultants who will help maximize Lumberyard’s contribution to the field.

Lumberyard executive and artistic director Adrienne Willis said, “Our expanded focus better reflects the artists we currently support and the changing, multidisciplinary direction of the contemporary dance and performance fields. By dissolving boundaries, we can deepen the critical support we provide to artists working to shape the future of contemporary performance in the United States.”

These changes are the latest steps in the transformation of the organization under Willis’ leadership into a national one that evaluates the needs of artists throughout their creation process and fills gaps in the structures that exist to support them. When Willis was appointed in 2010, ADI was a regional ballet school that trained dancers in Rockville, Md. ADI soon began presenting contemporary dance in a black box theater in the school’s converted warehouse headquarters, giving established and emerging artists alike a place in the DC area to perform new work.

In 2011, ADI launched its acclaimed Incubator program to address a well-documented need amongst artists in the contemporary dance field for resources, time, and space to more fully develop new works in advance of their national or New York premieres.

In 2015, ADI announced the Future Artists Initiative (FAI), a new scholarship program aimed at increasing racial diversity in American dance. This year, ADI broke ground on Lumberyard, a former lumberyard the organization is converting into a four-building campus for the development and presentation of contemporary performance.


The new hires at Lumberyard are:

  • Jilian Cahan Gersten (Director of Development), a lifelong New Yorker who was most recently Vice President of Development at BRIC, a multi-arts presenter in Brooklyn. Prior to joining BRIC, Gersten worked in various programming and fundraising roles at the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust, The After-School Corporation (TASC), Theatre for a New Audience, The New Victory Theater and Ballet Tech. She is a founding board member of Headlong Dance Theater in Philadelphia, PA, was previously on the board of Danspace Project and has served as a panelist for the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs and New Jersey After 3.
  • Alison Schwartz (Chief Operating Officer), who was previously the Co-Founder & Editorial Director of Lulu, the first mobile app dedicated to millennial women. Alongside the CEO, Schwartz developed the business from an original idea to a multinational business serving six million users with a team of 29 professionals in six countries. As Editorial Director, she determined the company’s editorial scope, tone and strategy for Lulu’s app, website, blog, marketing materials and other published media. Prior to that, Schwartz worked as a literary agent at ICM in New York, where she worked on nonfiction projects for young women in their 20s and 30s.
  • Karen Lombardo (Management Consultant), the President of KHL Consulting LLC, a specialized consulting firm that works with companies on the executive level to ensure that they have the structures in place to reach their goals. Prior to forming KHL, Lombardo was Executive Vice President of Gucci Group for Global Human Resources. At Gucci from 1985 to 2010, she helped turn the family-owned business into the third-largest luxury group in the world. As the Executive Vice President of Gucci Group, she implemented strategic initiatives that led to the recruitment and development of executive teams for brands such as Bottega Veneta, Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent, Alexander McQueen and Boucheron. She helped to bring more than 200 top decision-makers to Gucci during her leadership of the company’s global HR operations. Coaching and leadership training were integral parts of her role.
  • Martha Cooper (Marketing Consultant), an arts marketing consultant with more than twenty years of experience in the nonprofit sector. Cooper has held the position of Director of Marketing at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Inc., The Joyce Theater, American Ballet Theatre, The Performing Arts Center at Purchase College and Friends of Hudson River Park. Prior to her work in nonprofit marketing, she taught writing to lawyers and to law and college students.

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