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Breaking Ground: A Dance Charrette
The Tobacco Factory, Dumbo, Brooklyn, New York

Breaking Ground: A Dance Charrette, produced by Dancing in the Streets and directed by Joanna Haigood, was a multi-year urban voyage to the far corners of New York City inviting choreographers and audiences to explore new ways of making and viewing dance while exploring compelling New York City sites and the stories they tell.

Coined in the 1800s, the term "charrette" originally referred to an intensive course for architectural students in Paris, who were given 72 hours to solve a complex design problem and then place their plans in carts ("charrettes") and rush them to the Ecole des Beaux Arts.

The dance charrette was conceived by Joanna Haigood as an invigorating exercise for choreographers, challenging them to create a site-specific work in five days with no prior knowledge of the site, its location, characteristics, or the stories it contains. The dance charrette has been held at the Tobacco Warehouse in Dumbo, Brooklyn, Fort Jay on Governors Island in New York Harbor, and Hangar B at Floyd Bennett Field, Brooklyn.

“BREAKING GROUND – A Dance Charrette raised the bar for site-specific dance in this city.” --Gay City News, 2005

Dance Charrette Choreographers
2005: Ann Carlson, Eiko & Koma, Larry Keigwin, Tere O’Connor, and Jawole Willa Jo Zollar
2006: Douglas Dunn, Noémie Lafrance, Elizabeth Streb, Reggie Wilson, and Yasuko Yokoshi
2008: Jonah Bokaer, Tania Isaac, Stephan Koplowitz, Gus Solomons jr, and Nami Yamamoto

Premiere Date

Premiere Location
The Tobacco Factory, Dumbo, Brooklyn, New York

Subsequent Performance Dates & Locations
2006: Fort Jay, Governors Island, New York Harbor
2008: Floyd Bennett Field, Brooklyn, New York

Funders / Commissioners
Breaking Ground was made possible with generous support from Bloomberg, Mertz Gilmore Foundation, and public funds from the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs (2005, 2008), New York State Council on the Arts (2005, 2006), and National Endowment for the Arts (2008)

Photography: Julie Lemberger

All photographs, videos, and other materials on this website are owned by Zaccho Dance Theatre. All rights reserved.

Please contact Zaccho Dance Theatre at for permission to use and/or access additional materials not currently made available on this website.