Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Nat'l Arts Marketing Conference here I come!

So I can't write much because I'm trying to fit things in since it's my last day in the office this week before I head off to the National Arts Marketing Project Conference in Providence, RI. The conference should be very interesting. I'm hoping to learn a lot from what everybody has to say. As you might expect, almost everything is "social networking." There aren't a whole lot of dance folks specifically on the roster, but the Philadelphia office of Dance/USA seems to be sending a crew, and the director of Misnomer Dance Theatre, who's gotten all kinds of dance/technology grants, will be presenting. I have to write up a report about my experience for the scholarship I got to attend as an "emerging arts leader" (funny to be young enough to still count as that, some days being mommy I feel so old!) so I'll post some version of that to let you all know how it goes.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Opera and dance--a theme?

After posting about both the Atlanta Ballet's Magic Flute and the Parsons Dance Company performance of "Remember Me", I belatedly realized they are both dance to opera (traditional Mozart or "rock opera" respectively) with live singers on stage (correct? I haven't seen either yet). I wonder if there's a trend outside these 2? CORE Performance Company danced pretty recently to Messiah, which is also sung, if an oratorio rather than opera technically. I see that David Parsons commented in his interview that he changed how the singers interacted on stage. If I remember correctly, Sue had to make the singers much more stationary that she originally envisioned. Many singers don't do much moving when they sing! And many dancers don't have much vocal training. I guess that's why the "triple threat" Broadway-type folks are a breed unto themselves! Anybody out there have thoughts on singing and dancing?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Parsons Dance Company

I do have tickets for the show this Friday at the Ferst Center and now I'm quite curious how the whole rock opera meets modern dance fusion will work. Cheesy, maybe, entertaining and with some kick-butt dancing, definitely. Here are a couple of articles by Cynthia Bond Perry, who had a chance to talk to David Parsons about the piece: from the AJC and from
There's also a preshow talk with Zoetic Dance Ensemble folks, if you're interested in getting more info. I will probably be trying desperately to put the baby to sleep right about then, so I don't think that I'll make that part. I just hope I can get to the show on time! I'm sure I'll see some of you dance peeps there!

Atlanta Ballet's Magic Flute

Impressions from Atlanta Ballet's Magic Flute performance from the GO Arts blog where Keif, and friends in this case, are going to see at least one art event per day all month! Wow!

Monday, October 19, 2009

a book review: "The Making of American Dance"

"Martha Hill and The Making of American Dance"  Neil Ellis Orts reviews a new academy press book about someone I'd never heard of who apparently was very instrumental in getting dance into the academic setting in the US around the time of Martha Graham et al. In a similar vein to the previous post about educating audiences, I'm pasting the entire final paragraph here:
If contemporary dance is condemned to “always all over again,” always teaching what dance is, always convincing audiences that it is a serious art form, always defending its place as a form worthy of the same attention given to music and theater, Martha Hill and the Making of American Dance is a testament to why the pioneering remains important, not only to the dancers and choreographers, but also to other art forms and the larger culture.

An article about watching dance for non-dancers

"Dance Class" is an interesting sort of primer for watching dance written by a reporter who was forced to attend dance regularly by a girlfriend. I think it's unfortunate that dance is said to be "among the most mysterious and intimidating of art forms." But at least it's in the context of trying to give people a way to look at it rather than just a complaint (like that really old commercial for asprin, does anybody else remember this one, where the guy "gets a headache" at the thought of having to go to the ballet with his wife?) Also interesting that defining an arabesque is somehow important, though I like the comparison to architecture to describe the ideal simplicity of line (isn't arabesque also an architectural term?) And interesting too that he enjoyed the theatricality of the Bill T. Jones work, because I often think of dance theatre pieces being more "cutting edge" and would therefore assume they are less accessible to non-dance audiences. So much for assumptions about what an audience sees, right? 

Sunday, October 18, 2009

taking classes...

I got to take class again last week with CORE and plan to keep going. Yay! I've been sore and I'm still very out of shape (not having been doing any class since before Mirah, so more than a year! Unfortunately, the occasional rehearsal almost doesn't count.) It's funny how it works, to keep dancing having to take class all the time. It's something particular to dance to some degree (or other physical forms, obviously.) I had a friend in college who was working on a PhD who said "when do you stop taking classes and start teaching?" I guess that's what happens in other disciplines, but obviously with dance, you just keep taking classes, even if you do teach, (well, if you can fit it in.) Do you get to take class as much as you like? Are you teaching without being able to take class for yourself? If you only have time for one class a week, what do you take? Do you like other forms like yoga/pilates/gyrotonic in addition or in place of technique classes?
Would you like a list of dance classes around the area in our eventual website? Adult classes would be our focus, and professional level. Or do we include studios with beginner and kids classes too?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Performing: exposure vs. conditions

What space do you have in mind when you choreograph? Is it a huge, sprung stage with a nice surface, great lighting, a good number of seats in the house, climate control etc.? Some work is better in smaller venues, others in larger, still others is site-specific, but regardless, you would like to perform in the space you had in mind when making the work.  But what do we do when conditions we find ourselves in don't match our ideal? One interesting challenge comes to mind in times where there are the possibilities to perform in spaces that aren't usually performance venues. The option to create a whole new work specifically for the space is a time consuming one. If you're adapting an existing work, how much are you willing to sacrifice of your original vision, not to mention shins/knees etc. for the exposure of a public performance that may be in a less than ideal spot? How do you adapt your work if needed, or at what point do you say no amount of exposure is worth the conditions you'd be performing in?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Review of "pour"

Here is Cynthia Perry's review of Lauri Stallings/gloATL in "pour" as part of Le Flash last Friday night. I have to say the one problem with this type of performance (especially when you're short!) is seeing anything in the crowd. Cynthia managed to stay close to the dancers the whole way. But if you went with the flow of the crowd like I did, it was only a fleeting glimpse every now and then of the dancers. I was in a site specific piece during ADF one summer where the crowd was led on a path by one person as the dancers performed a little farther off, so they could be seen. That might not have been possible, though, in the alleyways of Castleberry Hill rather than in the open space of Duke Gardens. It's ok though, like I said, I was enjoying being in the midst of a crowd who was interested in seeing dance!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Thoughts on a singular arts service organization

Blake Beckham passed along this link from Partners in Performance. To bring the same discussion local, the question of consolidation has arisen in the Atlanta arts community before, and of course we are talking again about whether there needs to be a separate dance-specific organization. I say yes. That doesn't mean the organizations that provide wider discipline services aren't doing a great job, it just means that dance groups have specific needs (e.g. space for rehearsals with particular floor etc. requirements) that aren't being addressed. I agree with Lisa Mount's comment on the article, "Artists and cultural workers in the various disciplines have disparate vocabularies, values, and ways of working – symphony orchestras and ensemble theaters, just to name two, create their work and reach their publics in very different ways, and they hold radically different ideas about what the other disciplines actually contribute to society." How many of us have collaborated with musicians only to realize that the way dancers talk about music and the way musicians do is VERY different!? The process of creating dance is unique to the discipline (or really to each artist, but generally more similar among dancers than across disciplines) and the unique needs of dancers will be best met by an organization for dancers. And as I said, there's a wide disparity of viewpoints just among the dancers without even bringing them together with artists in other disciplines!

I also believe there should be a dance-specific group because the larger organizations are useful--the MAACC marketing meetings are a great source of information and inspiration for marketing for me, but having the people who are working specifically on dance get together too would be even better! There are groups of people who meet to discuss theatre, why can't there be meetings for the dancers? We can define what we need so that things don't overlap with what MAACC, ACPA etc. are offering. But the combination that happened after the Atlanta Dance Initiative folded into the Theatre Coalition to become the Coalition for Performing Arts is that the culture of theatre was still largely dominant in the organization. As Keif, who served on the ACPA member services committee has said, their Unified Auditions don't serve the dance community and though there are some voices from the dance community involved in the board etc. it's still mostly a theatre crowd. That's not to say the promotional tools online, ticketing services and health insurance benefits to name a few, aren't a great service to dancers. And we don't want yet another organization that's going to be a drain on resources for membership dues. But I think we can work out some way that makes sense for dance to have a larger presence AS DANCE in Atlanta and still be involved with these existing entities.
This is one of our largest issues in creating DanceATL--so what do you all think?

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Le Flash dance

I had a really fun time walking out of my door (well, gate) in Castleberry Hill and encountering Le Flash--lots of friends/dancers I know performing all around at both the Dance Truck and in pour the gloATL piece. Unfortunately, the baby didn't got to sleep early enough and I missed Blake and Greg at the Dance Truck, but made it to the later show of pour, and what I could see of it was cool. Mostly I was soaking up being in a crowd where people were saying "where is the dance? we're going to find the dance!" I made it back to the Dance Truck to catch some of Alex and Corian (way to use the space you're given guys!) and then had to run back to get baby back to sleep.
Here's Keif's input from her GoArts blog.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Happy National Arts and Humanities Month!

October is National Arts and Humanties Month and we can all celebrate it by going to as many arts events or making as much art and sharing it with folks, as we can! Let your friends and family know, raise awareness about arts in your community, including your own! I know there are events coming up this month in dance, like Le Flash tomorrow night and SDC's Lunchtime and Salon on the 15th. There's a national map of events this month through Americans for the Arts and you can add your events there. They also have a list of 101 things you can do to celebrate, including #65 "take a modern dance class." I've added the NAHM logo to the bottom of my emails and added it to the SDC website.