Through its professional company, youth companies, wraparound services and pay-what-you-can school, Cora Dance creates exceptional dance experiences while addressing the often unseen impediments that often restrict low-income individuals from accessing the art form. Cora fosters common ground amongst diverse people, allowing all involved—artists, students, audiences and community members—to connect more deeply with one another through the arts. 

Cora is dance for everyone, offering great art and rare opportunities for community intersection. Everything is pay-what-you-can. No one is ever turned away from a class or performance based on what or if they can pay.


Founded in 1998, Shannon Hummel/Cora Dance began as the critically acclaimed dance company performing the work of choreographer Shannon Hummel. Repeatedly lauded by such publications as The New York Times and Village Voice for her "sophisticated, vivid and true" yet accessible work, Hummel - a career dance educator as well as choreographer - took a bold step in 2009, veering from the traditional company model to open a studio in Red Hook, Brooklyn.

The Cora Studio opened in 2008 and became a home to continue the work of Hummel's professional company, Cora Dance, and to house the newly formed Cora Dance, offering 5 days a week of pay-what-you-can classes in ballet, modern, hip hop, composition and other dance-forms led by outstanding professional teachers and dancers.  From the start, Cora dedicated itself to the practice of turning no one away from a performance, program or event based on what or if they could pay, believing that excellent arts experiences should never be denied anyone based on financial circumstances. With this practice in place, the space immediately became a hub of intersection in this historically socio-economically divided community. 

Red Hook, Brooklyn is a peninsular neighborhood, cut off from the subway by water on three sides and a highway to the north, making access to quality arts programs beyond the area challenging for all the community's residents. Red Hook is home to NYC's second largest NYCHA low-income public housing development, where nearly 7,000 residents" live in the NYCHA housing, which is 60% of the community. While the areas of Red Hook along the waterfront have gentrified, boasting new amenities, resources and affluence, conditions have not significantly improved for the majority of residents in the neighborhood's massive public housing developments.

Hence, there are "two Red Hooks" - largely divided by race and class. Because Cora's programs are open to ALL people, regardless of ability to pay, the organization has proven to be a rare institution where all members of the community feel welcomed and engaged. This important sense of connection is carried well beyond the walls of the studio, creating more understanding between neighbors via equal access to outstanding art.

the PROFESSIONAL company

Shannon Hummel/Cora Dance is a professional dance company performing the work of choreographer Shannon Hummel. The backbone of Hummel's works is her deep exploration of universal human experiences and her acute awareness of life's contradictions - loss bringing new promise, satisfaction bringing suffering, pain bringing humor and so on. Her vivid dances lay bare the intimate underpinnings of what we think and feel, offering a voyeuristic journey into undeniably distinctive yet hauntingly familiar movement universes. Theatrical, accessible, kinetic, and sophisticated, Hummel marries the power of dance with the force of emotion, weaving eloquent stories brought to life by Cora's outstanding ensemble of performers. Always striving to broaden access to dance, Hummel's choreographic work has been experienced as much in school gymnasiums, church basements, and free public spaces as on the formal stages of prestigious venues and major universities across the country. Among her most recent critical acclaim, her latest evening length work, "down here" presented at BAM Fisher, was called "a rare gem" by The New York Times.

The school

Cora Dance opened its doors in Red Hook in 2008, offering outstanding professionally led classes at pay-what-you-can rates to students ages 5 through adult. Beyond the honor-system-sliding-scale tuition policy, Cora's constantly evaluates other impediments restrict students from having equal access to dance and goes the distance to address those barriers.

Cora provides free snack to all students, after-school pick-up service to classes from local schools, free dance-wear and shoes to all those in need. Additionally, Cora provides professional and pre-professional performance opportunities and one-on-one assistance with securing spots in performing arts middle and high schools to all dancers participating in its Youth Company Programs. Since opening, the school has served over 1000 students - 80% of whom are on scholarship - and presented or hosted over 100 community performances and events in local schools and public sites. 

YCP/Youth company programs

 JCYC/Junior Cora Youth Company (ages 10-13), CYC/Cora Youth Company (ages 12-18), and Cora Dance Apprentice Company (ages 14-18) -  serve as a bridge between the school's open technique classes and pre-professional ensemble work. Cora's most talented and dedicated students ages 10-18 are selected through open auditions each spring. Select members rehearse weekly in addition to taking regular classes and perform 5-10 times each year both locally and on tour. Families receive professional development workshops on gaining the tools and understanding to support a performing artist. YCP/Youth Company Program members receive one-on-one assistance and counseling toward applying for performing arts middle and high schools. Apprentice Members receive guidance and limited college scholarship support.  

In 2018-2019 Cora Dance is supported in part by funds from New York Urban League, the City of New York, and the Department of Youth and Community Development; public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council; public funds from the Decentralization Program of the New York State Council on the Arts, administered in Kings County by Brooklyn Arts Council; and additional funds provided by ALLINBKLYN, the Office of Councilman Carlos Menchaca, The O'Connell Organization Family Foundation, Inc., the Michael Tuch Foundation, Tiger Baron Foundation, the Earlynn J. Miller Donor-Advised Fund of the Community Foundation of Harrisonburg and Rockingham County, Omaha Community Foundation, The White Cedar Fund, Fred J. Brotherton Charitable Foundation and the Meringoff Family Foundation and Cora's generous individual donors. Printed materials were made possible, in part, with funds from the Destination>Brooklyn Program, funded by the Office of the Brooklyn Borough President, Eric L. Adams and NYC & Company Foundation, administered by Brooklyn Arts Council; and with additional from SaveMor Digital Printing. Capital funds made possible by an anonymous donor, the Earlynn J. Miller Donor-Advised Fund of the Community Foundation of Harrisonburg and Rockingham County, generous support of the Red Hook community and Cora's individual donors.