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The Dance Gallery Festival was created by Astrid von Ussar and Mojca Ussar in 2007 and has since become a well-known festival with annual showcases in New York City and Texas. In its ten years of programming, the Dance Gallery Festival has presented over 100 emerging and established choreographers from around the world and commissioned over 25 new dance works for presentation in either New York or Texas. Many of the Dance Gallery alumni have gone on to perform at Jacob’s Pillow, the Joyce Theater, international venues, and national television.



The Ardsley Residency

In 2018 the Dance Gallery began a residency program in collaboration with Catskill Art Space in Livingston Manor, NY. This residency supports U.S.-based dance artists at any stage of their choreography project. As of 2022, it was extended from a weekend to a week-long, all-inclusive residency, offering accommodations, 1800 sqft of rehearsal space, artist stipend and a community showing at the end. Artists selected for this residency are invited to present the finished work at the Dance Gallery Festival. 

Past recipients include Rohan Bhargava, Nicole von Arx, Cameron McKinney, Ashley Clos, Nicole Caruana, Khensani Mathebula, Peter Cheng, Teddy Tedholm. 


As a part of our collaboration with Sam Houston University, we have been able to offer a residency program for one artists a year who is invited to create work on the students of the SHSU dance program. These one to two week residencies include choreographing a new work on Sam Houston’s upper-level students to be performed on their fall concert as well as teaching technique and choreography classes.  A juried panel comprised of Sam Houston faculty and area artists select the resident artists. 


Past recipients include Enzo Celli, Lauren Edson, Marcus Jarrell Willis, Khaleah London, iMEE, Hope Stone Dance, somebodies dance theater, Maurice Causey, Sidra Bell, Mike Esperanza, Manuel Vignoulle, Joshua Peugh, Gabrielle Lamb, and Rohan Bhargava.

Level UP

Level UP

As a part of our continued mission to find up-and-coming choreographic talent at the international level, the Dance Gallery Festival offers Level UP. Level UP is an evening showcase featuring three talented choreographers, selected from applicants, alumni, or by recommendation. Each of the three selected artists receives a commission fee of $1,000 and 25 minutes of performance time. In addition to the fee and performance platform, one Level UP artist is offered a 3-day residency in the Catskills over Labor Day weekend.

This program is meant to support artists that are ready to advance to the next level in the development and promotion of their work.

Level UP has featured new works by the following artists:

  • Enzo Celli

  • Lauren Edson

  • Marcus Jarrell Willis,

  • IMEE

  • Stefanie Nelson Dancegroup 


  • Gabrielle Lamb

  • Manuel Vignoulle

  • Joshua L. Peugh

  • Robert Priore

  • Mike Esperanza

  • Nicole von Arx

  • Rohan Bhargava

  • NobleMotion Dance

  • Cameron McKinney

  • Victoria DeRenzo & Jared Doster

  • Nicole Caruana

  • Yoshito Sakuraba

  • Stewart/Owen Dance

Main Event

The Main Event

The Main Event has been the core of our festival since the beginning. The performances in this category feature shorter or excerpts of works by 8-10 artists per show. Works presented are generally works with larger casts which push the boundaries of modern and contemporary dance. These programs are curated to feature artists from across the country, as well as from NYC and Texas. We are committed to showing the work of out of town artists in order to avoid insularity and echo-chambers.


In 2013, we started the Audience Choice Award where each audience member votes for a choreographer from the Main Event program that they would like to see in our Level UP program. The artist with the most votes is announced in the months after the festival and is one of three choreographers asked to create a new work for the coming year's festival.


Past recipients of the Audience Choice Award:

Bryan Arias

Rohan Bhargava

Sean Aaron Carmon

Charlotte Settle

Emily Robison

Panel Discussions

In 2019, we had our first Professional Development Panel discussion with artistic directors, choreographers, and industry professionals. We gathered to discuss the different stages of choreographic careers and how presenters and directors make key decisions on commissions and which artists they present. 

2019 Panelists

  • Ariana Massery, Associate Producer, Jacob's Pillow

  • Cameron McKinney, Artistic Director/Choreographer, Kizuna Dance

  • Danni Gee, Dance Curator, CityParks SummerStage

  • Helen Simoneau, Artistic Director/Choreographer, Helen Simoneau Danse

  • Kristin Gregory, Program Officer, National Dance Project, NEFA

  • Nicole Von Arx, Artistic Director/Choreographer, NVA&Guests

  • Astrid Von Ussar, Artistic Director, Dance Gallery Festival

  • Quinn Czejkowski (moderator), Dance Gallery Festival

After receiving a lot of positive feedback from panelists and attendees alike, we realize that these kinds of conversations are necessary to helping build a strong community that supports artists at all stages and fosters relationships between presenters and artists. We are excited to continue facilitating these conversations and helping answer the questions that our artists and audiences have.

Master classes

Master Classes

As a part of our collaboration with SHSU, the Dance Gallery Festival has been able to offer a master class series to engage local dancers. In 2018, we began offering two free master classes in NYC, to give artists and students a chance to learn from each other and work with choreographers from different cities and states.


 Robert Priore, Photo by Paul Gordon Emerson

Amy Diane Morrow, Photo by Rachel Bruce Johnson

Texas Experience

For the tenth consecutive year, the Dance Gallery Festival has partnered with Sam Houston State University.  The Texas venue of DGF cultivates relationships between students and professionals and provides exposure for participating companies in the Houston area. Nationally recognized critic Nancy Wozny hailed, ”the evening's polish, fine dancing and choreographic invention made one memorable night.”


The Dance Gallery Festival at Sam Houston offers beautiful state-of-the art facilities, a master class series, and paid guest artist residencies in conjunction with the festival’s performances. 

The Texas Experience

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