Eryc Taylor Dance’s Outreach Program Partners with Lantern Community Services to Create an Online Dance & Movement Workshops Database for Supportive Housing Clients & Staff

Digital Launch Date: May 11, 2020

Eryc Taylor Dance’s Outreach Program Partners with Lantern Community Services to Create an Online Dance & Movement Workshops Database for Supportive Housing Clients & Staff

Video: Dance Magazine Video Profile on ETD Outreach Program

New York, NY, May 5, 2020 – Giving back, providing inspiration and uplifting those in need are the core of the values of Eryc Taylor Dance (ETD). The ETD Outreach Program is a special branch of the company that serves the most vulnerable communities in NYC. Their mission is to help others find their fire and spark a light in the darkness

ETD Outreach thrived on providing workshops on-site to multiple partners and organizations across New York City. Due to the pandemic and social distancing requirements, these in-person activities have all come to a screeching halt. However, the need for these programs has become increasingly vital. Most of the people served by the ETD Outreach program are confined to places such as hospitals, rehabilitation centers, and supportive housing facilities. In this incredibly isolating time, it is so easy to feel hopeless. It is crucial to continue to work with the vulnerable communities and individuals in New York City who need it most and to support the team of instructors, many of whom abruptly have no source of income. 

Fortunately, thanks to the creativity and shared vision of Artistic Director Eryc Taylor and Karisa Antonio, Director of Arts, Culture, and Fitness for Lantern Community Services, engagement and activities can continue to serve the community from the safety and comfort of their homes. Lantern Community Services is a supportive housing agency whose clients are a broad range of people from all ages and backgrounds who have been threatened by or experienced homelessness. Their unique approach of serving the whole person and offering a rich living experience — not just providing a four-wall shelter — has set the organization apart since 1996. Together, Taylor and Antonio have developed an online database on Lantern Community’s Vimeo Channel to offer mini-movement workshops created by ETD Outreach instructors. The videos vary from a vigorous Afro Dance stretch routine, rousing Rumba, and Dancehall grooves from a chair — all considering the diverse spectrum of needs and physical abilities of the participants. 

The initial commission is set for ten videos of 15 minutes each. If successful, there are plans to continue. ETD Outreach is offering similar initiatives to other partners to replace the live, in-person workshops that were the primary income source for the company. The next phase for ETD Outreach is to offer live online Zoom workshops featuring an even broader range of dance, movement, and wellness classes that will be available 24/7 on a digital database following the live stream. “The future of my dance company depends on these videos,” Eryc Taylor stated, acknowledging the importance of adaptation in these challenging times. 

When forced to cancel the scheduled and contracted ETD Outreach Workshops this spring, Karisa Antonio — who is in charge of Lantern Community Services clients’ “social, cultural, physical and expressive needs” — had many things to consider. “Without the ability to hold in-person workshops, I had to figure out a plan to provide our clients from sixteen supportive housing buildings, one shelter, and our 150 staff members with a sense of structure, stability, and support during these stressful times. I inquired — ‘What do people need physically, emotionally, and structurally right now?’ People love movement that takes them away from the stress of the moment. How can we use movement in a way that physically and spiritually rejuvenates ourselves? And how can we do this within our limitations? We have to adapt and evolve.” But the Lantern Community folks were not her only concern: “Our broad mission is to support people in need and try to circumvent the causes of homelessness. Canceling contracts could lead to a lack and the threat of homelessness for the instructors as well. We have to consider creating things that benefit everyone through inventiveness, problem-solving, care, and working together.”

The instructors and attendees are also eager to engage again, even if in a different form for the time being. Past participants have extolled, “Before I started taking these workshops I was sad and depressed, and now my spirit and my soul have started to feel marvelous.” ETD Outreach instructor Johari Mayfield — who has been praised by clients for her warmth and fantastic energy — has called her work with the program, “humbling because it has forced me to slow down and meet people where they are,” and expressed eagerness to create from her home studio space. She also noted the challenges that arise from the lack of person-to-person interaction: “Dance is a communal art form that lives where we create relationships with one another. How do I create high touch, high trust experience that’s built by being in close proximity to other bodies through a computer is a question I ask myself often.” But she believes that the rewards will outweigh the obstacles and hopes that the clients will take advantage of the opportunity. “One of the site directors told me about a student with a mental health challenge who was practicing her exercises while I wasn’t there. She said, ‘The dance teacher told me to practice my exercises.’ I was over the moon with joy!” 

ETD Outreach participating instructors include Ziiomi Law, Rebecca Brown, Liethis Hechavarira, Johari Mayfield, Jessica Phoenix, Jeo Flemming, and Isabel Estrada-Jamison. 

FREE ONLINE DATABASE. To engage, view, support, and participate, please connect on Lantern Community’s Vimeo Channel and ETD’s social media accounts on ETD Facebook and ETD Instagram. Those interested in learning more can contact The ETD Outreach Online Dance Database intends to inspire and encourage movement and creativity during these uncertain times in partnership with Lantern Community Services. However, for the sake of continuing such programming and keeping these vital programs and participating artists afloat, please consider donating to Eryc Taylor Dance and Lantern Community Services.

Recent News: 

  • Eryc Taylor Dance launches a GoFundMe campaign on May 5, 2020 aka #givingtuesadaynow requesting crucial support for current and future projects.
  • UNCHARTED TERRITORY — Eryc Taylor Dance’s Dancers in Isolation Project is officially announced and set in motion. For more information read the feature on BroadwayWorld and visit ETD: Uncharted Territory to watch the process unfold.

What’s Next: 

  • Eryc Taylor’s interview on NPR WAMU with Jeffrey James discussing ETD’s EARTH project and how artists are using their unique voices to address climate change. 

ABOUT ETD OUTREACH: Formed in 2015, ETD Outreach, is a division of ETD created to focus on using dance as a healing modality. Since its inception, ETD Outreach has worked directly with NYU Langone, Postgraduate Center for Mental Health, Felix Organization, PROMESA Senior Centers, Acacia Network, Lantern Community Services, CUCS, & Odyssey House. Current programming includes 25 weekly workshops, all at different housing sites in NYC, Brooklyn, Queens, and The Bronx.

ABOUT ERYC TAYLOR DANCE: Eryc Taylor Dance is a New York-based non-profit dance company that performs and tours globally. The Company has performed at venues such as the Lincoln Center Out-of-Doors, Joyce Soho, Joe’s Pub at The Public Theater (NYC), New York Live Arts, Teatro Armando Manzanero, and Teatro José Peón Contreras (Merida, Mexico), Martha Graham Studio Theater, Bryant Park Theater, Guild Hall (East Hampton, NY), Busan Cultural Center (Busan, South Korea), and Provincetown Amphitheater (Cape Cod, MA). ETD is supported by LMCC, NYSCA, and funding from the NYS Office of Governor Cuomo.  

ABOUT LANTERN COMMUNITY SERVICES: The mission of Lantern Community Services is to champion the independence and well-being of New Yorkers who are impacted by or threatened with homelessness. Core values include: being engaged, present and open; cultivating safe spaces for our community; celebrating achievements, big and small; being creative in the face of challenges; inspiring and be inspired by the Lantern Community clients; embracing diversity and inclusion; valuing everyone’s experiences and abilities, and being leaders in the field.



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