The precursor to today’s New York Dance Festival began at the New York Dance Studio in Auburn, NY in the winter of 1990 founded by Sean McLeod.
Kaleidoscope Dance Theatre’s Artistic Director Sean McLeod forged a partnership with Cayuga Community College's, Director of Student Services Joy Shortell, and past college President Dr. Larry Poole, along with Purchase Conservatory of Dance alum to create this artistic platform. Additional guest artists invited to join the faculty included; Laurie Lubeck (American Ballet Theatre) and Sheryl Woodmansee (Washington Ballet) to teach in sessions twice a year (known as the Kaleidoscope Dance Theatre Winter and Summer Dance Intensives).
Shortly after that time, SUNY Purchase alumni Thomas Warfield and Roxanna Young were brought to the Finger Lakes Region of New York by their classmate, Sean McLeod, Artistic Director of the Kaleidoscope Dance Theatre, to teach the classic styles of modern dance, ballet, and dance composition they learned while studying at the Purchase Conservatory of Dance, just outside of New York City.
Collaboration with photographer Jennifer Harpending.
Guest faculty included Noah Racey, Earl Scoggins, Sherri Campagni.
In 1999, the name was changed and the New York Dance Festival was established. The Festival has grown in notoriety and size for providing an ever-increasing roster of opportunities through its world-class faculty, collaborative initiatives, presentational genres, and corporate economic partnerships. Under this new direction, the Festival would come to include not only dance but an international Drum Festival, national Musical Theatre Project, acclaimed visual arts exhibits, and World-Class Concert Series that provides opportunities to participate for both performers and the general public. In 1999, Gregory Livingston joined the International Faculty of the Festival and has been a core member ever since.
Photographer Merit Ester Engelke featured at the Schweinfurth Memorial Art Center (Germany) and documented the Festival experience.
2006 saw the creation of Othello: Requiem for Desdemona in collaboration with Joe Siracusa and premiered at the Oncenter in Syracuse, NY during the New York Dance Festival.
In 2007, Mark Andrew photographed the NYDF for the first time; Sean McLeod was featured in a photographic series at the National Museum of Dance photographed in 2007 and premiered in 2008. In 2008 a new performance company was born out of the tradition of Kaleidoscope Dance Theatre - the Sean McLeod Dance Experience. The company made it's first tour to England to debut new works, making a follow-up tour in 2009 that included performances at The Anvil in England, Alvin Ailey's Citigroup Theater in NYC, and at the Judson Memorial Church in NYC.
Guest Faculty at NYDF have included: Alex Cowings, Jacob Mora (Moraporvida), Tina Thompson (Tina Thompson Dance Company), Melissa Young (Dallas Black Dance Theatre), Yvonne Racz (Ballet Lubbock), Assane Konte (KanKouran West African Dance Company)
Carmen de Lavallade was a special guest at the New York Dance Festival.
NYDF formed a Partnership with Cayuga Community College. The First Reinforced Motor Function Clinical was taught during the the Festival, not only allowing attendees to learn how to use this technique themselves, but how to teach, apply, and become certified in RMF.
NYDF rekindles a Partnership with Auburn Enlarged School Districts. Sean McLeod begins to set work for the Emancipation Ballet.
The New York Dance Festival introduced the Presentational Partnership to dance studio owners and directors.
New York Dance Festival and Auburn Enlarged School districts partnership has direct impact and adds hope to the under served communities.
The New York Dance Festival works to give back to the local community. At the Festival we give opportunity to underprivileged, poor, and minority groups. The New York Dance Festival has locked emotional development and good mental health into the DNA of its dance offering. Good dancing is not our goal, it is our vehicle. Through dance we empower these demographics, working with them and teaching them tangible skill-sets they are able to use in their daily lives.