When Dave Hurlbert came to New Orleans from San Francisco, he had long been associated with his favorite art form: dance. When he purchased an old church in the Marigny, he began thinking about what he would really like to happen inside the space he renamed the Marigny Opera House, a space that has become a go-to spot for all kinds of contemporary cultural activities, performances and community events.
Now, after a couple of years of running his unique Church of the Arts, Dave is ready to introduce a project near and very dear to his heart: the debut of the Marigny Opera House Dance Company. “I think it is one of a kind in the dance universe,” Dave says of this full time, professional dance company that will present three world premieres, each accompanied by live music ranging from traditional jazz to contemporary Italian and improvised jazz scores.
Maya Taylor, one of three choreographers hired by the company, is also the Rehearsal Director. She knew when she was 12 years old that she wanted to be a dancer. “I saw a performance of the American Ballet Theatre,” the Omaha, NE says. “And that really inspired me.”
So after high school in Omaha and summers studying at the Alvin Ailey School in New York, graduating from the unique Ailey/Fordham University dance program and becoming an alumna of Jacob’s Pillow, the world-renowned dance mecca in the Berkshire Hills of Western Massachusetts, she has become an active part of New Orleans’ thriving dance community.
“My hope for this company is that it will bring more professional dance to New Orleans,” she says. “There are some really beautiful dancers in our city. But they learn and leave. I want us to be a dance hub.
“This is a really exciting time for dance in New Orleans. We have seen such interest from dancers here. The fact that we can provide more opportunities, that’s so exciting for me.”
The Marigny Opera House Dance Company debuts this Friday at 8 p.m. at 725 St. Ferdinand Street. Tickets begin at $20. For more information, go to www.marignyoperahouse.org.