Thanksgiving is almost upon us, and you know what that means. It means that we are in the homestretch of the Dance/USA Institute for Leadership Training (DILT) mentorship program. In the spirit of the season, I wanted to share with you the gifts for which I am most thankful.
October 1, 2014, was a big day for the dance field. Around the world, five of the world’s best ballet companies joined together for a full day of behind-the-scenes live streaming on YouTube featuring rehearsals, interviews and company class. On the same day, the Wallace Foundation announced a six-year, $40 million initiative to support building audiences for sustainability. While I wondered if the planners of the two events were each aware of the other, I also found myself staring at the negative space between the two and wondering if anyone else noticed the solution to be found within. Combine these two events with Dance/USA’s recently announced “Call for Questions” for next year’s conference and I figured it would be as good a time as any to posit a few questions that I know are seldom asked (or answered properly) across the arts community.
Hiring a new artistic director can be a daunting task especially if your
organization has had little or no experience in doing so. Where to
begin? Who to involve in the hiring process? What steps to take? These
were some of the questions facing Pennsylvania Ballet, BalletMet
Columbus, and Ballet San Jose recently when they went through the lengthy
process of examining and defining company goals in order to lay the
groundwork for an artistic director’s search. Read on to learn more.
For the first time in a few years, this fall update is not as dire as it has been. Funding proposals for the National Endowment for the Arts are relatively stable and there is no looming fiscal cliff. However, that doesn’t mean that we should take a break on our advocacy. This is a key time to educate our lawmakers about the issues that impact dance and the performing arts as an integral part of moving the needle on policy and legislation. Read on for more on how to do this.
September 23, 2014
The Mountain Empire Performance Collective explores ways
of making work beyond geographic limitations. Utilizing both
traditional and contemporary methods of communication, including video chats, telephone calls, letter writing, emails, and
traditional methods of working together face to face, they make works that test the limits of communication and technology. Read Eliza Larson and Rachel Rugh in a collaborative piece that replicates in written form how they choreographically merge ideas and movements across the country. Technology, initially a
means to an end, has become an integral part of the choreography, both in
process and in performance. Read how they do it here.
The past decade has seen the emergence of interesting hybrids between old and new technologies and aesthetics. An example is the evolving phenomenon of house concerts -- small, acoustic music and dance performances held in private homes. The ambiance is informal. Usually the audience is limited; anywhere from 10-20 people, who contribute a comparatively small fee for the privilege of hearing music up-close and personal. These events are rekindling what music must have been like when it was enjoyed socially in people’s homes, and yet they thrive in the era of social media, and are marketed via Facebook, and captured and shared using Instagram, Vine and other media outlets.
If there is a single question that bedevils nearly all the dance
communities I have encountered, it is the quest for authenticity. So
many of the dancers and musicians I have worked with talk about
“balancing tradition with innovation” that it feels a bit trite. Countless bios I have
read include some variation on that phrase. And the thing that strikes
me as weird about it is that there is an implicit assumption there that tradition and
innovation are somehow at odds. Read more about building a traditional dance career in the 21st century.
The hows and whys of getting started in planning and building your own artist-driven archive.
Traditionally artists have donated their archival materials to institutional repositories once they reach the final stages of their careers. But with the advent of technology, the change in archival institutions and funding, this model is beginning to shift as more artists see the value of holding onto their collections. Read on to learn why this generation of artists is seeking new ways to preserve their materials and how a few have initiated the process.
Michael Kaiser, the outgoing president of the John F. Kennedy
Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., talks
candidly about the state of the dance field, funding, American dance
challenges and perceptions, and his love of baseball and baking. In
September 2014, he leaves the Kennedy Center to bring the DeVos
Institute of Arts Management to University of Maryland
joining the College of Arts and Humanities’ Clarice Smith Performing
Arts Center, a leading national arts incubator. This is the second part of his conversation with Dance/USA.