Small Company, High Ideals: Nimbus Dance Works

Building a bridge between world-class concert dance and the Jersey City community was the reason Samuel Pott formed Nimbus Dance Works, a contemporary company celebrating its 10th season.

Kicks: PeiJu Chien-Pott, left, with Hanan Misko in Danzon, a piece by Pedro Ruiz.
Photo by Chi Modu

Artistry abounds in the Jersey City home of Samuel Pott and his wife, PeiJu Chien-Pott. Pott is the founder and artistic director of Nimbus Dance Works, the Jersey City contemporary dance company that is celebrating its 10th season this year. Chien-Pott performs for the company, and with the Martha Graham Dance Company, where she was recently promoted to principal dancer.

As a choreographer, Pott, a native New Yorker, is known for creating works that invite an emotional—and often personal—connection between dancers and the audience. Building this bridge between world-class concert dance and the Jersey City community was the reason Pott formed Nimbus. “I really believe that the arts bring people together in tangible ways,” he says.

The company also frequently performs at New Jersey schools and colleges, as well as staging dance concerts throughout the Northeast. The Nimbus repertoire includes politically charged work like Charles Weidman’s Lynch Town—created in 1936 in response to a lynching that Weidman witnessed—and original works by Pott.

Nimbus dancers come from throughout the United States, South Africa, Europe and Asia. Chien-Pott is from Taiwan, where she trained in classical ballet. This spring, Martha Graham guest choreographers Andonis Foniadakis and Nacho Duato each chose Chien-Pott to star in a world premiere. For one of the pieces, she had to dance as an insect. “Her ability to inhabit that world, and what she did with her body, was jaw-dropping,” says Martha Graham artistic director Janet Eilber.

In 2012, Pott created the School of Nimbus Dance Works, which provides classes for all ages, and full, need-based scholarships for youth in its Pre-Professional Training Program. To the students and their fellow dancers, the husband and wife offer inspiration and guidance. “Pei is a goddess to young dancers,” says Eilber.

Young dance students from all over the state can audition this September for the annual Nimbus production of Jersey City Nutcracker, which puts a local, urban spin on the classic holiday tale. For the production, students get to rehearse and perform alongside Pott and other company dancers. Performances will run from December 19 through 21.

Nimbus will perform August 18 at the Downtown Dance Festival, a free event in Manhattan’s Battery Park.

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