Mission & History

Mission Statement History & Founders

Mission Statement

The Sun clock on the corner of Broadway and Chambers Street

Founded in 1984, Dance New Amsterdam celebrates 28 years of cultural leadership in contemporary dance. DNA supports the life, career, and longevity of dance artists through ongoing professional dance education, opportunities for choreographic exploration and innovative performance, and service to the field and the Lower Manhattan community.

DNA provides opportunities for aspiring, emerging, and established artists, fostering the development of new and experimental works through commissions, certification courses, artistic residencies, and studio and administrative office subsidies. Each year, DNA presents a season of fully-produced dance works and world premieres.

DNA is home to thousands of dancers from all over the world, and to renowned dance companies and organizations. We are committed to training healthy dancers, developing new audiences, and bridging diverse communities by exploring the role of dance across a spectrum of contemporary dance styles and cultures.

History & Founders

Founders Laurie De Vito, Michael Geiger, Danny Pepitone, Lynn Simonson and Charles Wright

Dance New Amsterdam, formerly Dance Space, Inc., was established by five choreographers committed to creating an inclusive space for dance. The founders, Laurie De Vito, Michael Geiger, Danny Pepitone, Lynn Simonson, and Charles Wright, believed in the need for a space where anyone with the desire to dance, from amateurs to seasoned professionals, could learn, develop, and perform.

Founder Lynn Simonson developed the Simonson Technique, an organic approach to movement that trains dancers to dance with an understanding of their personal body mechanics. The Simonson Technique is now practiced by dancers and teachers worldwide, and each year students gather to become certified in this ever-evolving method of teaching dance.

In 1999, Dance Space, Inc. merged with its partner organization, the Evolving Arts Theater, to become the nonprofit entity Dance Space Center. In that same year, Dance Space Center lost its lease to the economic boom of the 1990s. Charles Wright found a temporary home for Dance Space Center in the Chinatown area of Manhattan.

Following the attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, he continued the organization’s pioneer tradition by creating a new home in Lower Manhattan in the historic Sun Building on City Hall Park, where the renamed Dance New Amsterdam (now located in the former “New Amsterdam” section of Manhattan) became the first arts organization to move downtown after this tragedy.

Danny Pepitone passed away tragically in 1987 and Michael Geiger moved on to pursue other projects. Laurie De Vito, Lynn Simonson and Charles Wright continued as co-directors until 2002, after which Charles took on the Executive Director role. Laurie De Vito and Lynn Simonson continue to teach at DNA, inspiring a whole new generation of students and faculty alike. Today, Executive and Artistic Director Catherine Peila continues DNA’s legacy and is making DNA a vibrant part of the Lower Manhattan neighborhood – an area formerly exclusive to the financial and civil-service industries.

Over the past 28 years DNA has created a platform for some of the most revolutionary dance artists to showcase their work, including Sean Curran, David Dorfman, Monica Bill Barnes, Wally Cardona, Nora Chipaumire, Robert Battle, Bill Shannon, Stephen Petronio, Jorge “Fabel” Pabon, Ronald K. Brown, Mark Morris, and Urban Bush Women.

The gifts of the five founders offered to the dance community and to New York City cannot be measured and continue to be treasured by each student and audience member who walks through our doors.