(Photo provided by Zenon Dance Company)
When Zenon Dance Company takes the stage at the Cowles Center this June, it will be for their final bow. After 36 years, the Minneapolis-based company will cease operations this summer.
“We are being forced out because of lack of funding,” said Zenon Artistic Director Linda Z. Andrews.
The company was long funded by the Jerome Foundation, which supported the company through commissions and world premieres by international choreographers. Zenon recently learned it was losing its Jerome funding, Andrews said by phone Tuesday. Along with news about the Target Foundation's shifting priorities, the loss of funding prompted the company's decision.
“None of them communicate a specific reason to you,” Andrews said of the foundation changes. “It’s just that things look like they are changing pretty dramatically amongst the funding community, and a lot of organizations are affected by that.”
According to Andrews, Target Foundation provided extra funding to sponsor the company's final concerts June 13-15. The program will include signature pieces from Zenon’s history, including Danny Buraczeski’s “Song Awakened” and a piece by frequent Zenon collaborator Luciana Achugar.
Zenon is currently renegotiating their lease with the Cowles Center, with hopes of continuing the company's dance school. According to a press release, the school has traditionally been a source of revenue for the company. But even that has decreased, with Zenon citing high parking prices and increased construction in downtown Minneapolis.
Zenon was born from Ozone Dance School, founded in 1979. In 1983, Ozone merged with two companies launched by Andrews -- Rezone Dancers and Just Jazz Dancers -- to become Zenon Dance Company. In addition to performing in Minnesota, the company has toured to Cuba, France, Hungary, Russia, Aruba, Switzerland, New York, Colorado, Texas and California.
Andrews said one of her main concerns is for the dancers in the company, for whom she's writing letters of recommendation to work elsewhere. “Zenon was at the top of the heap in terms of artistic excellence,” she said. “These performers were well-classed.”
As for Andrews herself, now in her fourth decade of working with dancers, she’s not sure what comes next. “My daughter wants me to write a memoir,” she said. “I’m looking around and going into the next stage of life. I still have a lot of creativity and energy for the art form.”