FOR Gideon Obarzanek, it is his last visit to New York as artistic director of Chunky Move. For Rafael Bonachela it's the first time Sydney Dance Company appears in New York under his leadership.As for David McAllister, he is promoting the return to New York next year of the Australian Ballet after a 13-year absence. Then he was a dancer; now he's the AB's artistic director and the company's reputation rests in his hands.The first week of November has turned into unofficial Australian dance week in New York as three of the country's leading companies find themselves there at the same time. The AB took part in the annual Fall for Dance festival on Tuesday and Wednesday, Chunky Move opened at the Joyce Theatre on Wednesday and SDC follows it into the Joyce next Tuesday.The Joyce programmed Chunky Move and SDC back-to-back but it's coincidence that the AB has simultaneously landed in dance's heartland, and the conjunction turns the spotlight on them. For each artistic director it's a key moment.The AB is in New York for a big round of promotional activity for next year's June visit, and getting on to the Fall for Dance program has to rate as the best possible advertisement. The 10-day festival was founded in 2004 by City Centre, whose main venue has about 2200 seats and a long connection with dance. The idea was to present a varied evening of dance from four companies or individual artists from the US and abroad and to charge just $US10 for each seat. Not surprisingly Fall for Dance, still a $US10 ($9.66) bargain, was an instant success; it has been staged every year since and sells out almost immediately.McAllister approached Fall for Dance to ask for a slot. The offer of Glen Tetley's Gemini did the trick. Not only does it have a particularly Australian connection, having been made on the company in 1973, but it also can been seen as a tribute to American-born Tetley, who died in 2007. The AB was warmly received on Tuesday night by an audience that these days rarely sees a Tetley ballet.Each of five Fall for Dance programs is given twice, meaning 5500 people saw Gemini, and may wish to see more of the company when the AB brings Graeme Murphy's version of Swan Lake and a mixed bill to the David H. Koch Theatre in June. Swan Lake - the first ballet McAllister commissioned for the AB - has been performed in Tokyo, Paris and London; New York will complete the quadrella of leading ballet cities.The David H. Koch Theatre, part of Lincoln Centre, is a 2700-seat venue made available by the departure of one of its resident companies, cash-strapped New York City Opera. The AB is presenting itself, meaning it hires the hall and carries all the financial risk. "We're not expecting to sell every seat in the house, but I think we will exceed expectations. I think we've done the budgets with realistic outcomes," McAllister says.Chunky Move and SDC are in the happy position of being presented by the Joyce, a 472-seat venue noted for its programming of contemporary work, although classical companies also frequently appear there. SDC was last there in 2004 when Murphy was artistic directoBonachela's 6 Breaths and LANDforms will form a double bill, Between Breath and Form, that then goes to venues in England and Spain. SDC has previously toured under Bonachela but this one is personal: SDC will perform in Barcelona, where Bonachela was born; London, the city where he spent almost all his adult life before coming to Sydney in 2009 and that nurtured his choreographic ambitions; and New York, the source of so much inspiration."I remember the first time I performed in New York," says Bonachela, who was a long-time member of Rambert Dance Company."What a high; the feeling of audiences who had experienced dance from everywhere. That energy is something very special. It is important that you're measured at an international level, so what you do is relevant. You want to be able to share your work with audiences from everywhere."In Germany in May the company gave four sold-out performances of Between Breath and Form and enjoyed standing ovations. Bonachela cheekily suggests overseas audiences have "a predisposition" to like work from Sydney, but adds: "We want to be better every day."On a more pragmatic note, SDC executive director Anne Dunn says: "It's really important for us to get into the US market. We haven't toured to the US since Raf took over and would like to capitalise on that exposure (at the Joyce) with more tours in the US in the future."If for Bonachela this tour is about creating interest for the future, Obarzanek is in a position to enjoy the fruits of his long association with New York. This is his "seventh or eighth" visit with Chunky Move, the company he founded in 1995 and that he leaves at the end of this year. Sort of.Anouk van Dijk takes over the artistic leadership next year but Obarzanek still has Chunky commitments to fulfil for several months. There is another US tour slated for Connected - the work now showing at the Joyce - and Obarzanek will also tour his solo show from last year, Faker. It will have two weeks in New York.Also Chunky Move-related is the restaging of his most recent creation (made in collaboration with Victorian Opera), Assembly. It premiered at the Melbourne Festival and will be seen at the Sydney Festival in January and in Brisbane in September.The work is for dancers, solo vocalists and choir, and in each city will have a new choir. In Melbourne the choristers were from VO; in Sydney they will be from the Sydney Philharmonia."It just reminded me why I was doing this in the first place. It was one of the most rewarding experiences I had in a long time," he says of the Melbourne performances.Obarzanek's work usually presents enormous technical challenges when it comes to touring - in Connected, for instance, a complex sculpture by Reuben Margolin consisting of myriad moving pieces is partly built during the performance - but this hasn't prevented it from developing a strong, regular touring program."We structure our company to make one to two productions a year, and we spend a lot of time making those works. It's more than six months of the year in the studio creating these complex works and that means they should tour."Chunky Move is structured for touring, for long-term touring, and for international touring." Obarzanek says the small potential audience in Australia makes that a necessity, even though "touring dance is always very fragile economically". The subsidies it receives, and the fact it is presented when it tours, mean the company generally covers its costs.Having been artistic director and chief executive of Chunky Move since 1995, Obarzanek is now finding management responsibilities "increasingly burdensome" and is looking forward to his new projects, which include making a piece for the Australian Ballet's 50th anniversary year and a relationship with Sydney Theatre Company.