FORWARD__Space at Southampton Arts Center: A Q&A with Kristin Sudeikis

FOWARD__Space at Southampton Arts Center, Photo: Instagram

FORWARD__Space, a workout founded by world-renowned choreographer Kristin Sudeikis, has taken up residency at Southampton Arts Center through September 21. Classes, which are offered on the lawn and open to all levels, are priced at $48 and include water.

We caught up with Sudeikis to learn more.

Give us a little background on FORWARD__Space and how it was started.
I had been teaching pop up type sessions at different clubs like Baby’s Alright in Brooklyn as well as for varying major brands (which I loved doing). While creating and hosting these types of events I noticed more and more of a need and demand for sweat sessions like the ones we offer — a fusion of athleticism meets moving meditation meets varying dance techniques (house, contemporary, hip hop) and then also combining these with a sense of precision, pure release and attunement to the body and music. Myself and a ton of people I was around were all seeking it on the regular as opposed to simply gathering for these epic one offs or pop ups. At the time I was working to go on tour with my dance company and then without a doubt felt the deep call to begin this process of building FORWARD__Space specifically. The idea had come years before as well and it just wasn’t letting up. With this we began planning, and about a year and half later, we opened our first flagship location in Soho at 24 Spring St on October 4, 2018.

We envisioned this as an underground music club-meets-wellness sanctuary and transformative dance floor for all people. Beats High Lights Low is one of our company mantras and one I have said for a solid decade – ha. We dreamt of giving people a dark space where they could be flooded with lights of all different colors as well as immersive sound that mimics that of being completely enveloped and surrounded by the music. It’s the sound but also it invokes a feeling. We also wanted to provide jobs to all of these brilliant dancers, athletes and performers — people who have spent their lives studying the body, the mind, the inherent connection between the two. It was important to create a space where all of those gifts could be expanded, activated, nourished and then shared out. Passing the mic back and forth with these instructors and teammates and those to come is an honor.

Building an inclusive space where anyone could discover their physical potential on the dance floor, no experience necessary is a daily intention of each of ours. The FORWARD__Space signature experience is a high-intensity workout that taps into the artist and athlete in all of us through consistent practice and showing up.

Tell us about your outdoor classes at SAC and what attendees can expect.
We have created a bit of an outdoor festival vibe on the West Lawn of SAC. It was essential to the team and our guests to ensure that all felt safe in the environment, so we capped the class capacity at 25 spots and upon arrival everyone is welcomed with temperature checks and required to wear masks when not dancing.

We kicked off the schedule with our signature FIRE and FORWARD sweat sessions, and we recently incorporated our newest experience, FORWARD__FLOOR.

FIRE is a 50 minute sweat session rooted in athletic conditioning with weights, FORWARD is 50 minutes of high-energy dance-led movements and easy-follow choreography and FORWARD__FLOOR is a 24-minute session focused on mat work to lengthen and sculpt. We’ve gotten incredible feedback from our community on FORWARD__FLOOR so we’ll definitely be incorporating it into our long-term signature offerings. We will be hosting sweat sessions at SAC through late September — I’ll be teaching some classes, alongside our master instructor Rachel Warren and a few other phenomenal members of the FORWARD__Space team.

How did the partnership come about?
The partnership initially came about from an invitation to have my dance company perform at SAC in 2018, which then led to a request to also have me teach a master class. It was the summer of 2018, right before we opened FORWARD__Space. It was such a phenomenal experience teaching here and being surrounded by all of the art and working with their team — an electric atmosphere. As summer 2020 approached, the FS Team and I were deciphering next best and safest steps for another summer activation out east. Last summer we had a blast at The Barn in Bridgehampton. As luck would have it, the same time as we were brainstorming on the safest 2020 summer activation, Amy Kirwin from SAC reached out to me with an exciting invitation to once again have my dance company perform but this time on their outdoor stage. It was an absolute yes. Then, remembering how wonderful it was to teach there, I inquired about a possible residency teaching outside at SAC. Massive thank yous to Amy Kirwin, Simone Levinson, Godfrey Palaia and the entire SAC collective for this opportunity. It has been incredible to dance and safely move and sweat here with our team and the community.

How has the business had to shift due to COVID-19?
As with much of the global community, COVID-19 has us pausing, recalibrating, rethinking and now innovating the way we connect and communicate with ourselves, our guests and our world at large. Cue the FORWARD__Space Virtual Hub!

When the pandemic hit, we immediately began offering daily digital dance breaks via Instagram Live to assist in alleviating stress and any anxiety and to hopefully help get people out of their heads and back into their bodies. We have learned that moving right now is not a want but rather a need, a deep necessity. To feel less isolated and instead truly connected is what we are honored and excited to be providing as a service for as many people as possible. Delivering an elevated experience that is thoughtful, rooted and authentic to what is now needed is paramount. When the pandemic hit, the response and demand for more was immediate, overwhelming and clear — to swiftly provide a more expanded version virtually. With this, we launched our FORWARD__Space Virtual Hub on April 24.

Visit forward-space.com or the FORWARD__Space’s app.

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