Carol Nolte, Choreographer/Artistic Director, WestFest

Resident at Westbeth since 1989

Finding Space at Westbeth

When I moved into Westbeth in 1989, I had already developed a great little modern dance company, with its own studio, teaching jobs for company members, a real fund-raising board, and a full booking schedule of more than thirty performances a year. But it was all in New Jersey. I was studying with Merce Cunningham and we were already rehearsing in SoHo lofts. But I found no space to work or show performances in Westbeth at that time.

Being a typical low-budget artist, I began to prospect for spaces in my new home. We joined forces with artist resident extravaganza Terry Noel, creating a performance where he decorated all of the Gallery spaces, and my dancers and his group of drag queens shared the event.

Another time, again in the Gallery, my dancers danced while a painter did a full wall creation (kind of a mess). With help and funding from the Field, we created a weekend long dance festival with many performances in the Gallery, Community Room, and the Merce Cunningham Studio. This one was a beauty, a big success, and, in many ways, the precedent for WestFest. There were others, including a joint performance with Billy Harper up at the Cunningham Studio.

Finally, George Cominskie came to the rescue. George stopped into a rehearsal and offered help. A couple of years later, working together, we premiered WestFest, and have been dancing everywhere in the building for the ten years since.

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