CUNY Dance Initiative: Alyssa Alpine & Gabrielle Lamb



In honor of CDI’s upcoming 5th anniversary performances, Jessica and Clara interviewed the Director of CUNY Dance Initiative (CDI), Alyssa Alpine, and Choreographer, Gabrielle Lamb of Pigeonwing Dance.

Alyssa talked about how CDI started as a pilot initiative and grew to become a successful private/public partnership model of support for artists in NYC. She shared how she works with various CUNY campuses to provide rehearsal and performance spaces for artists, and creative ways in which artists have connected with students.

Gabrielle talked about how CDI helped her produce her first full-length evening performance, launching her trajectory to present more evening-length work. She also shared her artistic process for her world premiere for CDI’s 5th Year Fest, in March.

Alyssa and Gabrielle talked about some of the many challenges artists face today, like supporting emerging and mid-career artists, getting audiences to come to shows, finding entry-points for artistic work, and the competitive dance landscape.

CUNY Dance Initiative will celebrate its fifth anniversary with a series of performances by past CDI artist recipients, called 5th Year Fest, from March 20–23, 2019, at Baruch Performing Arts Center, in Manhattan. Tickets range from $11 to $36, and can be purchased online at

5th Year Fest performing artists include Heidi Latsky Dance; Sonia Olla & Ismael Fernandez; Andrew Nemr; Miki Orihara; Loni Landon; Urban Bush Women; Kinesis Project dance theatre, Gabrielle Lamb; Parijat Desai; MBDance; and Ephrat Asherie Dance.

More about the CUNY Dance Initiative (CDI):

CDI is an unprecedented model for collaboration between the City University of New York (CUNY) and the New York City dance field. A residency program that opens the doors of CUNY campuses to professional choreographers and dance companies, CDI supports local artists, enhances the cultural life and education of college students, and builds new dance audiences at CUNY performing arts centers.

Since its official launch in 2014, CDI has subsidized more than 100 residencies for emerging and established NYC choreographers on 13 CUNY campuses in all five boroughs. Created directly in response to the shortage of affordable rehearsal and theater space, CDI has granted over 5,800 hours of studio and stage time to artists, and attracted 11,500 New Yorkers to performances, open rehearsals, and workshops. CDI’s unique model, which pairs the resources of the City’s vast urban university system with private funding, now awards 22 to 25 artists a year with residency space and fees.

More about our guests:

Alyssa Alpine, Director of CDI

Alyssa Alpine is an arts producer, curator, and administrator with twenty years of experience in New York’s non-profit arts world. Since graduating from Columbia University, she’s held positions at organizations large and small, like Lincoln Center, New York Live Arts, and Mexico Now. She recently started New Jersey City University’s Center for the Arts, a new umbrella for the University’s arts programming. Now directing the CUNY Dance Initiative, she brings a deep personal commitment to the performing arts community as well as in-depth understanding of how it functions.

Gabrielle Lamb, Dancer/Choreographer, Pigeonwing Dance

Gabrielle Lamb was born in Savannah, Georgia, and trained at the Boston Ballet School. In the year 2000, she joined Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montreal, and in 2003 she was promoted to soloist. At the invitation of choreographer Christopher Wheeldon, she moved to New York City in 2009 to join his company Morphoses. Ms. Lamb began choreographing in 2005 and has won many choreography awards since then, including a Princess Grace Award for Choreography in 2014. She was a CDI resident in both 2015 and 2016. Her movement style and theatricality have been profoundly influenced by the choreographers whose work she danced during her performing career, including George Balanchine, Jiri Kylian, Mats Ek, Ohad Naharin, Nacho Duato, and Shen Wei. In addition, Ms. Lamb is a self-taught video artist and animator. Her choreography and dance films have been presented by many venues and festivals around the world.

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