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Astoria dance company closes down due to COVID-19 complications

The curtain has come down for the Rioult Dance Company, which closed its Astoria dance center due to the COVID pandemic. (Photo courtesy of RIOULT Dance NY)

As New York City moves toward its COVID reopening May 19, the renaissance comes too late for a dance company in Astoria.

The board of the Pascal Rioult Dance Theatre announced Thursday that it is dissolving the organization, closing its Astoria-based dance center and the dance company due to “the ongoing difficulties of the COVID-19 pandemic,” effective immediately.

“On behalf of the board, we’re saddened to announce the dissolution of the organization and the closure of the RIOULT Dance Center,” former Chairman of the Board Hope Greenfield said. “We had expected many great things for the future of the company, especially with our new center in Astoria, but the pandemic has sadly brought an end to our plans.”

For nearly three decades, the Pascal Rioult Dance Theatre was part of the city’s dance community performing 12 of its New York seasons at the Joyce Theater in Manhattan. The dance company also performed at theaters and festivals across the country including New York City Fall for Dance; Lincoln Center Out-of-Doors; Central Park SummerStage; the American Dance Festival in Raleigh, N.C.; the Annenberg Center; and Zellerbach Hall in Berkeley, California.

International venues included the Cannes International Festival, Maison de la Danse in Lyon, France, the Tamaulipas International Festival in Mexico as well as venues in Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg and Japan.

The RIOULT Dance Center opened in October 2018 in Astoria and quickly became a safe and welcoming space for dancers from all across the New York City area to take classes, rehearse and create, as well as function as a home for the dance company. The school was dedicated to community-based arts programming, providing an educational resource for western Queens.

“I am sorry that my dream of establishing a home for the company and school that celebrates the diversity and richness of dance has come to this unfortunate end, and has necessitated the closure of the dance company,” founder Pascal Rioult said. “I am grateful for the dedication of my board, my staff, my dancers, my teachers and the artists who made the center a vibrant place. I am proud of the reputation RIOULT Dance NY has garnered over 27 years. My entire life has been dedicated to dance and even though this chapter is closing, my choreographic career has not come to an end.”

The RIOULT Dance Center was located at 34-01 Steinway St. and was part of the Kaufman Arts District which includes 30 arts and culture spaces including the Museum of the Moving Image, the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts and Kaufman Astoria Studios. RIOULT Dance NY was the first established dance company to take up residence within the Kaufman Arts District.

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