When American Ballet Theatre corps member Lauren Post started up her summer company, Co-Lab Dance, last year, she was looking for a way for her and her colleagues to keep dancing through ABT's two-month layoff. "The Met season ends and we're all in such great shape," says Post. With the help and encouragement of her mentor, she was able to raise enough money to produce her first season last September.
Those performances were a big success, with sold-out shows and a waiting list for tickets. Now, as Co-Lab Dance prepares to open its second season, Post has expanded on her early momentum with a residency and performance at Kaatsbaan International Arts Center and a bigger theater for the company's New York City shows September 6-7. It's a lot to plan—and was made all the more complicated when Post learned that she was due to have a baby two weeks before opening night. (She gave birth earlier than expected, on August 6, to a beautiful baby girl.)
Danielle Rowe and members of Co-Lab Dance in rehearsal for Rowe's new work Any/Which/Way
Jade Young, Courtesy Co-Lab Dance
"The dates were set before I found out I was pregnant," says Post. "But I guess it's good practice for balancing the rest of my life with kids!" Luckily, she has had the help of two company managers to assist with rehearsals. And this season is ambitious, with three world premieres by choreographers Gemma Bond, Danielle Rowe and Martha Graham Dance Company dancer Xin Ying. The company will also be screening At The Time, a nine-minute film created and choreographed by ABT soloist Cassandra Trenary which stars herself and fellow ABT soloist Calvin Royal III.
Members of Co-Lab Dance rehearse Gemma Bond's new ballet The Ballroom, wearing costumes by Sylvie Rood
Gemma Bond, Courtesy Co-Lab Dance
Post has long collaborated with Bond, a close friend and former ABT dancer, on her choreographic projects. But Ying, who created a work for Co-Lab Dance last season, was initially unfamiliar to her. "I only knew her from Instagram," says Post. Ying is expanding on Almost Ritual, her piece for the company from last year, which will include live music from the Momenta Quartet. Post commissioned Rowe, formerly of Netherlands Dance Theater, after seeing her work at Ballet Sun Valley last year. "I was totally blown away," says Post. "I'm bummed that I won't get to dance in her piece!"
Calvin Royal III and Cassandra Trenary in Trenary's short film At The Time
Stephanie Wessel, Courtesy Co-Lab Dance
Post says that, pregnancy aside, this season has been slightly easier to manage. "I know what to expect this time," she says. "It was very intimidating to start from scratch last year, to raise money, deal with music rights and costuming. As a dancer, you don't think about those things." Another plus: the Kaatsbaan residency gives the company two weeks of concentrated rehearsal time, with two studios to work with. "It's not the same in New York," she says, where small companies often have to patch together a rehearsal schedule with whatever studio space they can find. "Kaatsbaan is so well-respected, so it means a lot to be given a residency there. It helps validate what we're doing."
Post, with newborn baby in tow, makes a visit to rehearsal.
Jade Young, Courtesy Co-Lab Dance
As for her artists, Post has hired many of her ABT colleagues, plus New York Theater Ballet's Erez Ben-Zion Milatin. Eventually she would like to hire more outside dancers. Does Post see an artistic director career in her post-dance future? "Maybe?" she says—but one thing is for certain: "I would love to keep Co-Lab Dance going every summer."