GDC’s Aurora Dance Fest at Capital One Hall

  • When:
    June 14, 2024 
    Festival Site-Specific Performance in the Atrium — 7:00 p.m.
    Performance in the Main Hall — 7:30 pm
  • What:
    Tickets are ON SALE NOW!! Take advantage of our St. Patrick’s Early Bird Discount and get your tickets now! Just enter the code GREEN and get 17% Off per ticket! Link in bio.
    We are thrilled to announce the lineup for the upcoming Aurora Dance Festival – a vibrant evening of dance performances hosted by Gin Dance Company and featuring works by 10 companies and 14 talented choreographers. This event promises to be a delightful mix of contemporary ballet, modern dance, and the fiery passion of Flamenco from Southern Spain. Adding to the excitement, we are especially excited to have exceptionally talented guest artist, Luke Spring who was featured on Broadway in “A Christmas Story” with additional credits that include Disney’s “Newsies”, Maurice Hines Is Tappin’ Thru Life, Kennedy Center Honors (Tom Hanks Tribute), Tony Awards, Fred and Adele Astaire Awards, and TV appearances on The Ellen DeGeneres Show and SYTYCD just to name a few. Join us for an unforgettable night filled with artistry, creativity, and mesmerizing performances.

    Festival Performance in the Atrium starts at 7:00 pm
    Performance in the Main Hall starts at 7:30 pm 

    Performance lineup:
    Special Guest: Luke Spring
    Angel Ram Dance
    Ash & Elm Dance Co.
    BalletEmbody
    Company E
    Furia Flamenca Dance Company
    InPulse Dance Company
    Kaleid Dance Company
    Layklyn Landry
    Louisa Mejeur
    Michala Conroy/Jane Franklin Dance
    Rachel Bozalis
    Skye Ballet Center
    Gin Dance Company
  • Where:
    Capital One Hall
    7750 Capital One Tower RD
    Tysons, VA 22102
  • Tickets:
    Click Here for Tickets
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A Story from Tristen Matthews

In this Black History Month.

We are highlighting the talented Gin Dancer, Tristen Matthews. Here, she shares her story of growing up and pursuing her dance journey.

My mother always told me that I twirled in the womb instead of kicking like my brothers. Although not a dancer herself, she always had a strong love for the arts. When she was in college, she enjoyed going to see dance performances with her friends on the weekends. When she graduated, she got herself season tickets to the Kennedy Center so that she never missed out on a performance, especially The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. When I was 18 months she was watching the Kennedy Center Honors, and they were honoring Judith Jamison, who is a prominent figure in the modern dance world. She was the principal dancer in the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater until 1980 and later became the ArtisticDirector of the company until 2011. My mom told me that I came into the room, stared at the TV, and just started dancing and twirling. She was in awe because I wasn’t old enough to understand what I was watching and I had no idea who Judith Jamison was at the time or why she was being honored. She thought to herself, “Wow, my little girl is going to be a dancer” and knew instantly that I needed to take dance lessons. Shortly after, she put me into a program at a recreational center and after a few weeks, the instructor told her that I needed to go to a real studio where I could get advanced training because I had a gift. 

At age 4, I auditioned and got in to a youth residency program run by Dance Theatre of Harlem (DTH) at the Kennedy Center. Being a part of this residency program was really special to me because I danced in a very diverse environment and felt a strong sense of community. It was really empowering to be in a program with a bunch of talented kids with all different backgrounds. I didn’t know at the time how lucky I was to be training with Robert Garland, who was a former dancer at Dance Theatre of Harlem and is now their Artistic Director. Looking back, I realize how amazing this opportunity was. Even at seven years old, I knew that when Aurther Mitchel himself walked into the room to observe class, that I was in the presence of a dance legend. I have a lot of great memories from my time spent at DTH. Whether he was tossing his ballet slippers at us when he needed us to focus, or making up catchy songs to help us memorize our ballet port de bras positions, Mr. Garland always made sure that our hard work was matched with a light hearted and fun environment. No matter what, he made sure we understood how important it was to always believe in ourselves, always train hard because ballet technique is important, and never forget that black and brown dancers can be just as successful and are just as beautiful in ballet. In middle school, my family and I moved to Athens, Greece, and I attended St. Catherine’s British Embassy School. During my second week of school, I auditioned for the annual dance production. This production was supposed to be mainly for the high schoolers but the middle schoolers were allowed to be in one piece. In the audition we were asked to learn multiple jazz combinations. While marking the combinations off to the side, all of the girls nearby were surprised because I was able to do double pirouettes and was also really flexible. I was still extremely new at this time and was the only American in my entire school, so to have them all crowded around me asking me to demonstrate combinations made me feel like a celebrity. The teacher, Gina Veale, came over to see what all the commotion was about and seemed to be impressed as well. She made an exception for me and cast me in four pieces and made me an understudy for all of the ones I was not cast in. This was a pivotal moment for me because myhard work and dedication was recognized even in a new school in a different country. While living in Greece I also took ballet lessons at a small dance studio in the area. My teacher, Vivian Papathiki, taught in Greek and it was up to me to figure out what was going on. At first I was really stressed out because I had never learned in another language before, and I had definitely never had to figure out what corrections someone was trying to give me while speaking in another language. My Greek improved pretty quickly and I started to get the hang of it. With it being such a small studio; sometimes with the class size just being me and another student; I was able to get a lot of individualized attention and my ballet really improved. She was such a sweet and passionate teacher and cried when I moved back to the United States. I always wish that I could find my way back to her so that she could see me now. I think that she would be extremely proud of how far I’ve come. 

When I moved back to Virginia in the middle of High School, I started dancing at Metropolitan School of the Arts and was a part of the Royal Academy of Dance program that the school offered. I also took Jazz, Modern, and Contemporary classes. I then went off to dance at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts where my love for Modern and Contemporary really grew. My Junior year of college is where I felt the transition happen between being a dance student and being an artist. Everything that any teacher had ever told me just started to click and I became a much stronger dancer that year. Going to a conservatory where I got to dance all day, every day, was not only a dream come true for me but was also really life changing for how I approached dance. Up until college, it was something I did after school or on the weekends and although it was hard work, it was also really fun and getting cast in shows put on by my studio was a guarantee. In college, I had to audition for every single thing and it pushed me to work harder and prepared me for a professional career. I found the beauty in the experience when I was able to work that hard, be that exhausted, and still have fun. My senior year I attended the Ailey School in NYC and this was a full circle moment for me. The 18 month old who stood in front of the TV and danced when Judith Jamison was on the screen, was now a 21 year old living in NYC and attending an orientation led by the faculty of the Ailey School and Judith Jamison herself. My dance journey essentially started with her, so I wanted to pinch myself. It turns out that she wasn’t actually supposed to be there that day at all, but decided to stop by to meet all of the new students. I felt that it was actually fate that brought us together. 

Graduating during Covid was really tough because the world was on pause. I tried to audition for any and everything that was available and didn’t have any luck. I tried zoom auditions, video submissions, and reaching out to dance companies. I was constantly asking my younger brother to hold the camera up for me as I did take after take of audition videos. I was so worried he would get annoyed with me, but he was actually really dedicated to holding the camera perfectly still and not making any noise in the background. However, no matter what I tried, I couldn’t seem to get into anything. It was really hard at first because I felt like everything I had worked for may have been for nothing. I constantly thought to myself that I wouldn’t get a chance to dance again. Then one day, I saw an audition notice for Gin Dance Company and immediately reached out to Shu-Chen Cuff to see if I could audition. I was so delighted by the idea that my first time being in a dance company would be one where the Founder and Artistic Director was awoman. I was really nervous to audition, but was still excited because there were a few familiar faces in the Company already. After the audition Shu-Chen pulled me aside to let me know if I had been hired or not. In my head I had prepared myself for any outcome, but of course was hoping I danced well enough to get in. Shu-Chen smiled, told me I was a beautiful dancer, and asked me to join the company. I was overwhelmed with emotions and hugged her and thanked her for giving me my first professional dance opportunity. Being in a dance company was always a dream that I had always had and I am so grateful that my dream came true.

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GDC Audition

Attention‼️ Gin Dance Company is seeking dancers with a strong background in ballet and modern technique along with performance experience and a great passion and eagerness to grow. The audition is by invitation only. 
• Rehearsals are from 7:30 – 10:00 pm on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.
• Must be able to legally work in the USA
• If interested, please send your bio, dance photos, and a dance video to info@gindance.com

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Call for Submission – Aurora Dance Fest

Thank you for your interest in sharing your work in Gin Dance Company’s Aurora Dance Festival. This year ADF will be at Capital One Hall on Friday, June 14, 2024, at 7:30 pm.
*SUBMISSION DEADLINE: January 31, 2024, 11:59 pm EST
*Selected participants must be available to do tech and dress rehearsal on the same day of performance day at Capital One Hall on June 14, 2024.

*The Festival does not provide housing and/or transportation.

*Individual artists and collectives are welcome to apply. You do not need to be a formal organization to be considered.
*University dance major students may apply. 

*Duration of group piece (more than dancers) should be no longer than 10 min, and solo/duet should be no longer than 6 min in length.
*If a work exists only in-progress, please send a rehearsal video of the required length with sufficient supplemental information with which to be fairly considered. World Premiere performances are welcomed and encouraged. If you are applying with a work-in-progress submission and are accepted into the Festival, you will be asked to provide a video of the completed work before final approval.

*An excerpt of a longer work can be accepted.

*Each choreographer/company may submit up to two works. Performers can appear in more than one application. (each application requires a separate application form.)

Apply Now! Click HERE to apply

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“Insight” Review by DC Theater Art

Flowers overflow Capital One Hall stage as the celebrated Taiwanese American dancer and choreographer retires from performing.
By Lisa Traiger – November 18, 2023

Julia Hellmich, Shu-Chen Cuff, and Michala Conroy in ‘I Am Here,’ choreographed by Shu-Chen Cuff. Photo by Ruth Judson.

“Long-stemmed red carnations tossed from the audience carpeted the front of the stage at Capital One Hall this past Saturday evening in celebration of Gin Dance Company founder Shu-Chen Cuff’s retirement from performing. The Taiwanese American dancer and choreographer founded Gin Dance 13 years ago as a means to express and share her dual identity through the language of dance. Offering bouquets and tossing flowers is a long-held tradition in the ballet world and fitting for Cuff, who, while her choreography draws on contemporary elements, is firmly rooted in the ballet aesthetic and its traditions.” Click Here to read the full interview.

Shu-Chen Cuff in ‘I Am Here,’ choreographed by Shu-Chen Cuff. Photo by Ruth Judson.
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Giving Tuesday – November 28

As we approach Giving Tuesday, we would like to invite you to join us in supporting our mission to impact, inspire, and brighten lives through the arts. Your tax-deductible contribution can make a significant difference in helping us continue to create and produce meaningful productions. At GDC, we pour our heart and soul into every project we undertake, but we cannot do it alone. Your support is essential in helping us keep the arts alive. We are incredibly grateful for your continued support, and we remain dedicated to ensuring that the arts remain an essential part of our lives. You can make a donation here: http://gindance.org/GinDance/support_gdc/. Thank YOU!!

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GDC Outreach Performance for a Benefit Concert for Doctors Without Borders – USA

Shu-Chen performed in "I Am Here". Photo by Ruth Judson
When:
November 19, 2023 — 5:00 p.m.
What:
Shu-Chen will be doing a solo performance among an impressive array of accomplished musicians and singers/vocalists in support of Doctors Without Boarders at Fairlington United Methodist Church in Alexandria, VA. It’s a fun and meaningful event and it’s Free!! Come and support this great cause!
More about Doctors Without Boarders – USA:
Emergency Relief Fund providing independent, impartial medical humanitarian assistance to the people who need it most around the globe.
Where:
Fairlington United Methodist Church
3900 King St.
Alexandria, VA 22302
Tickets:
This is a Free event!
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Gin Dance Company’s artistic director Shu-Chen Cuff to retire from the stage

Concluding her 27-year career as a professional dancer, she performs in ‘Insight’ November 11 at Capital One Hall.

Reflecting on this transition, Shu-Chen Cuff shares, “As a dancer and a performer, I’ve dedicated and worked hard all my life to perfect my performance and give my all on stage. It’s hard to believe it’s really coming to an end… This decision hasn’t been an easy one, but I know it’s time.”… Read all about it: https://dctheaterarts.org/2023/10/18/gin-dance-companys-artistic-director-shu-chen-cuff-to-retire-from-the-stage/

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GDC Presents “Insight” at Capital One Hall on November 11

“Insight” is comprised of three pieces each with very different meanings, cultural influences, and styles. The first piece, “Insight”, a brand new original work that was inspired by the quote “When an old person dies, a library burns down.” This powerful quote reminds us of the immense wealth of knowledge and experience that older generations possess. Shu-Chen, through her choreography and dance, expresses the awakening message that we should respect more and care more for our seniors and appreciate all they have done to give younger generations the world they will inherent from them. We need to hear their stories and learn their lessons so we can benefit and grow from the wisdom they have to share. Second, a collaboration with kinetic sculpture artist, Kevin Reese. This work is called “I Am Here” in which GDC’s Artistic Director Shu-Chen Cuff, as a 1st generation immigrant to the U.S., delves into her experience of the desire, dreams, struggles, opportunities, and celebration of immigrating to this country. Using the kinetic sculpture design and dance, the audience will get to see and understand how the immigrants life experience come together with the community. Third, “A Cup of Tea”, an Asian culturally influenced work with live music accompaniment by Chinese Dulcimer musician, Chao Tian. In this work, Shu-Chen, through dance, delves into the culture and philosophy of the Chinese tea ceremony and reveals that the tea ceremonies and rituals contain an adoration of the beautiful among the sordid facts of everyday life, as well as a sense of refinement, an inner spiritual content, humility, restraint and simplicity. By sharing this work with the community, we hope to give the audience an experience that will inspire them to look first inwardly as they explore the introspective nature of the production, then outwardly to appreciate and connect with the people and possibilities that surround us all. Get your tickets: http://gindance.org/GinDance/eventstickets/
This production is supported by Virginia Commission for the Arts, ArtsFairfax, and National Endowment for the Arts.

Gin Dance Company is the recipient of the 2023 Dolly Vogt Community Arts Award on behalf of ArtsFairfax and Capital One Hall. This award recognizes artistic merit, percentage of facility capacity and programmatic growth.

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7-8-9 Fundraising Drive – Together, keeping the curtain up!

GDC’s 2023 ‘7-8-9’ Fundraising Drive – Together, keeping the curtain up!

We need your help raising $14,000 by 8/9…

It’s been a very busy and exciting 2022 – 2023 season at GDC…  We’ve completed some wonderful performances including our season opening production  “I Am Here” in which we collaborated with Kinetic Sculpture Artist, Kevin Reese and Chinese Dulcimer Musician, Chao Tian at the Capital One Hall.   We were thrilled and honored to perform “Aspire” and“A Cup of Tea” for A Celebration of “Buoyant Force”, a magnificent 50 foot tall steel sculpture created by Sue Wribcan which is installed at the Reston Town Square Park. We were especially proud to collaborate and perform with Grammy nominated Billboard No. 1 Concert Violinist, Jenny Oaks Baker, New York Times Best selling Author, Jason Wright, The Washington DC Temple Choir, The Boyle School of Irish Dance, and Celtic Woman Star, Alex Sharpe to perform “Joy to the World” at Capital One Hall last December. This Spring we got invited to share our production “I Am Here” in The Washington Ballet’s “Ubuntu: Building Bridges Between Diverse Communities through Dance” production and Metropolitan School of the Arts’ “Higher Ground” production.

In addition to these great events and more, we had the absolute pleasure of bringing our “A Cup of Tea” to A Gala Benefit Concert for World Central Kitchen through our Outreach Performance Program. Kevin and Shu-Chen also designed special free, hands-on workshops based on the work “I Am Here” at the Metropolitan School of the Arts for kids from differing backgrounds and ethnicities and helped them to understand the struggles and challenges those immigrants were facing when they first immigrated to U.S. and taught the kids the techniques of making kinetic sculptures and creating dance as a way of sharing their stories.

At GDC, we pour our heart and soul into every production. We create to impact, inspire, and brighten lives.  We have a tremendous passion and love for what we do. We are excited to announce that we will be returning to Capital One Hall to open our 2023 – 2024 season. At this very special evening, we will share a full evening length innovative production of “Insight” a brand new original work that was inspired by the quote “When an old person dies, a library burns down.” This powerful quote reminds us of the immense wealth of knowledge and experience that older generations possess. Shu-Chen, through her choreography and dance, expresses the awakening message that we should respect more and care more for our seniors and appreciate all they have done to give younger generations the world they will inherent from them.

The funds raised during our 7-8-9 Funding Drive ($14,000 by 8/9) will help us cover the production costs of our exciting 2023-2024 season, keeping our artists working and creating to bring excellence in performing arts to the community. We humbly ask for your help in raising the funds needed for this exciting and ambitious production with your tax-deductible contribution. You can help us achieve our goal of raising the needed funds with your tax-deductible contribution.

Please give whatever you can … Every dollar donated will bring us closer to our goal.
TOGETHER, we can keep the curtain up!

You can click here to donate.

Note: If you prefer to make a contribution by check, please make check payable to Gin Dance Company and mail it to:

Gin Dance Company
1818 Library ST, Suite 500
Reston, VA 20190

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