Since this article was published, Pieter has sent out the information for the VIRTUAL RITUAL EVENTS. It has been added at the bottom of the article.
Citing financial challenges due to public health concerns and regulations issued by the City of Los Angeles, the County of Los Angeles, and the State of California, on June 29, 2020 the Board of Directors of Pieter sent out a press release announcing the closure of their current space. Since opening in January of 2010, Pieter has seen a host of artists pass through its doors as teachers, performers and audience members. I, along with several other dancers, rehearsed there for Laurel Jenkins’ work B A S E that performed at The Getty Museum in 2016. I have also reviewed concerts there over the years.
Located in the Lincoln Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles, Pieter has been a space for dance classes, rehearsals, workshops, residencies, and performances of dance, music, theater and poetry by artists from truly diverse identities. Part of its mission statement states that Pieter “provides a space for dancers to create a nurturing society. Based on holistic support for all bodies, an open exchange of ideas and a reciprocity of generosity, Pieter is a place to be comfortable in the body-mind-spirit.” And, a phrase that I love, “At Pieter, brave dancing bodies are at home.”
This announcement follows the closure of Meg Wolfe’s we live in space (2016-2020), and Pacific Arts Center and Dance Studios (2001-2020) founded by Shida Pegahi. One wonders if these three studios are the only dance studios forced to close and with another COVID wave predicted for the fall, and no end to the pandemic in sight, will they be the last. As the ordinances continue to change and the threat of tighter restrictions in the future, studios have been unable to make their spaces available for classes, workshops, rehearsals and, performances.
Pieter and a few other studios have managed to stay open this long by providing a space for teachers to conduct online classes, but the revenue that thes
e rentals generate is not enough to cover rent, maintenance and other operating expenses. As Pieter’s press release put it, “To be blunt, we are bleeding financially. The rent for the space far exceeds our income.” As rents in Los Angeles have soared, this has been true for dance studios even in better times.
The Pieter board discussed several options – looking for other long-term renters, fundraising, grant writing, etc. before making the final decision to close the space They tried unsuccessfully to negotiate with the landlord to lower the rent. The board realizes that Pieter has never conformed to the American Disabilities Act of 1990 and nor does a specific space define the community or mission of the artists that inhabit it.
The current Pieter Board of Directors consists of Christine Suarez, President, Mona Field, VP, Janine Lim, Carmela Hermann Dietrich, Hope Hood, Nguyen Nguyen, taisha paggett, and Amanda Yates Garcia. They held Town Hall meetings with the community, listened to their staff, teachers, and work exchange communities before concluding to not continue renting the current Pieter space after July 31, 2020. They will, therefore, begin the search to find a space with an occupancy capacity higher than the current Pieter space and to use whatever income saved from this decision to fund a space for the artists who have worked together to make Pieter a safe environment to create new, experimental and exciting work.
When I contacted Pieter to request a list of artists who worked at Pieter over the past ten years, Dorothy Dubrule responded, “A single comprehensive list does not exist, though you can find a record of all classes, workshops, and events that have taken place by going backwards through the calendar on our website (www.pieterpasd.com/calendar). There have been so many different movement and performance communities and artists that have come to Pieter in the last 10 years, and it is important that Pieter’s multiplicitous identity is honored. It was a home to an enormous range of practices for varying lengths of time, uplifting the fact that dance means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. I would not want this to be reduced to a short list of regulars.”
Jeanine Durning, Stacy Dawson Stearns, Jonathon Stearns, Zena Bibler, Emily Jones, Hannah Krafcik, Dylan Crossman, Meena Murugesan, Jmy James Kidd, Michael Thurin, Alea Olivas, DaEun Jung, Gregory Barnett, Rivkah French, Good Trouble Makers, Alexsa Durrans, Miles Brenninkmeijer, Odeya Nini, Tara Jane O’Neil, Jessica Emmanuel, Amelia Charter, Martabel Wasswerman, Meg Foley, Alison D’Amato, Jay Carlon, Brontez Purnell, Sophia Wang, Jos Charles, Muriel Leung, Ryka Aoki, Yosimar Reyes, Tommy Pico, Maya Gurantz, Rikki Rothenberg, Barry Brannum, Alexx Shilling, Barnett Cohen, Tova Mozard, Rose Carr, Sara Suarez, Benjamin Bekey, Emma Ben Ayoun, Jessie Young, Nick Duran Fair, Devika Vasanthi Wickremesinghe, Chantal Cherry, Michelle Sui, Alicia McDaid, Rufus Dumont, Sarah Ashkin, Nico Brown, Carmela Hermann Dietrich, Chard Gonzalez, Luis Lara Malvacias, Maya Gurantz, Valerie McCann, Keith Hennessy, Lisa Wahlander, Robyn Nisbet, Rebecca Brooks, Rebecca Lemme, Valerie McCann, Raquel Bell, Alana Reibstein, Alfonso Cervera, Doran George, Asher Hartman, Zoe Rappaport, Marianne Lu, Tucker Trainer, Victoria Marks, Laurel Jenkins, Rebecca Green, Jesse Bonnell, Stephanie Zaletel, Christine Suarez, Cynthia Birney, Marina Magalhães, François Chaignaud, Maya Gingery, Odeya Nini, Robert Tyree, Danielle Ross, Sacha Yanow, Perin Hailey McNelis, Jojo Flores, Lindsey Lollie, Brendan McCall, Jil Stein, Rebeca Hernandez, Carolina Caycedo, Jeremy Hahn, Diana Rivera, Jane Paik, Jordan Saenz, Carol McDowell, Janine Lim, José Richard Áviles, Veline Mojarro, Justin Morris, Aisha Shauntel, Nicole Robinson, Agua Dulce, Toni Pasion, Emily Jones, Chard Gonzalez, and Emiko Sugiyama.
One of my questions was directed to Pieter’s announcement of a celebratory saying goodbye to the space. Dubrule said that the studio will be open to the public for visits of 15 minutes each on a first-come, first-served basis over the weekends of July 11/12 and 18/19, on Saturdays from 10am to 2pm and Sundays 12noon to 4pm. All visitors must wear a mask. She said that the Board and other volunteers from the Pieter Community will be meeting to develop further plans for a “ritual of farewell”. Those plans will be announced soon.
Updates will be posted on the Pieter website and on Instagram @pieterperformancespace where one can also sign up for their mailing list. If you would like to be involved in planning a community ritual, please email Board Member Mona Field at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like to send a note to Pieter, their address is 420 W Ave 33, Unit 10, LA CA 90031.
The press release stated that the Pieter community will be focusing on rebuilding its internal structure and “expanding our staff capacity, developing a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion advisory committee, developing a programming application and review system in order to lay a foundation for an equitable and sustainable organization, while at the same time expanding our virtual programming, and hearing from our community”.
I asked if there were any words of encouragement to studio owners in and around Los Angeles who are most likely facing similar struggles due to the pandemic?
“Despite our inability to hold rehearsals, classes and events in a physical space right now, it has been overwhelmingly evident that the Pieter Community is strong and ever-growing through virtual space. Dancer-people are incredibly adaptive and supportive of one another. I see a future in which arts spaces and organizations share resources and lean on one another to gain strength. If any studio owners want to reach out to Pieter for support, please direct them to email@example.com and I will offer any contacts/resources/brainstorms/advice that I am able to give!” Dubrule wrote.
VIRTUAL RITUAL EVENTS
Members of Pieter’s Board of Directors in collaboration with community volunteers have organized two virtual events to honor the closing of our 10 years in the studio, and to share visions of what Pieter’s future holds:
SUNDAY JULY 12 // 6 PM: Please join us for some virtual time in the studio.
While a community member visits the space with their camera, you are invited to share memories and goodbyes via Instagram Live at @pieterperformancespace or on Zoom.
Please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org for zoom login information.
SATURDAY AUGUST 1 // 6 pm: Please join us for a Virtual Welcome to Future Pieter
On this zoom call, you are invited to explore wishes for the future of Pieter as we become a Virtual Community and seek an eventual new home.
Please RSVP to email@example.com for zoom login information.
Written by Jeff Slayton for LA Dance Chronicle. Updates to this article were made at 12:24 pm on July 3, 2020.
Featured image: Samantha Mohr in Hi, Solo #6. Photo by Alexx Shilling.