The Lucky Penny launches Work Room
Dance Truck] has been a local favorite since it cropped up back in 2009. A simple, innovative public art program, the project literally delivers contemporary dance performances to galleries, festivals, and spots around town in the back of trucks and trailers — if people can’t go to the art, the art will come to them. Critically praised and publicly followed, the result was a resounding success.
It’s unsurprising, then, that the work of individuals as physically and creatively dynamic as co-founders Malina Rodriguez, Danny Davis, and Vii Kelly would eventually leak outside of the trucks. Which is why, in 2011, choreographer Blake Beckham and designer/production maven Malina Rodriguez initiated the Lucky Penny. An organizational umbrella for Dance Truck, the Lucky Penny acts as a production outlet for the pair’s collaborative dance works and a curatorial platform for presenting other contemporary artists.
This is all done without an independently owned studio space, mind you. Because of high hourly rates and project-to-project scheduling, the current model for choreographers’ studio space results in its inaccessibility to independent artists and volunteer-led companies (which, coincidentally, comprise the majority of our local dance community). The system encourages infrequent and fast-paced work. Starting on July 1, the Lucky Penny will present an alternative to the established method with the [http://www.theluckypenny.org/work-room/].
Located in East Point’s Wagon Works, a converted mill built in 1895, a 1,700 square-foot sun drenched studio space will soon be home to a small group of resident artists — and the realization of a long-term vision of the Lucky Penny. After installation of a new sprung dance floor this summer, the space will be home for nine artists who will have year-round, subsidized studio time: six to 12 hours a week in addition to training opportunities. The cohort of resident artists includes Beckham, Anicka Austin, Melissa Word, Corian Ellisor, Sarah Freeman, Hez Stalcup, MaryGrace Phillips with Erik Thurmond, Okwae A. Miller, and Dance Truck.
The shared workplace will facilitate rigorous, consistent creative practice in the hopes of producing original performance work. Exploration and collaboration are also strongly encouraged. The idea is to proceed with depth and attention to the craft of contemporary dance, not move as quickly as possible. The Work Room, though serious in its efforts to provide a nourishing space for working deeply, it is also affordable and reliable. As a result, it is also sustainable.