Friday, February 26, 2010

Notes from Feb. 21

(I missed the first part of the speakers’ introductions of their process/philosophy on collaboration. And I don’t promise the accuracy of these notes is 100%. But you should be able to get the idea!)

DanceATL Meeting
February 21, 2010
Topic: Collaboration
Speakers: Matt Kent, Creative Director, Pilobolus
    John McFall, Artistic Director, Atlanta Ballet
    Sue Schroeder, Artistic Director, CORE Performance Company

Collaboration is like oxygen, it’s everywhere and everything
He grew up when studios were autocratic and if you were a dancer you followed orders.
He asked a designer who had worked with Cunningham to work with him on a piece. He found out that the way it worked for Merce was that there was no input whatsoever, the designer worked on his own and brought everything to the theater for the day of the performance. He wasn’t comfortable with that kind of lack of control. What if the costumes hindered the movement?

Collaborating for creating work means letting go of control, opening it up to the people she’s working with so they can find things she wouldn’t be able to do alone. It makes each piece new and the approach itself evolves together with the piece and is different each time.

Collaboration means losing control: maximum input and maximum contact
It’s not pretty, not fun, people scream at each other
He likes maximum contact from the beginning of making the piece
Not about niceness, it’s frightening
Why would intelligent people live like this? Because you get what you don’t know to be there, take the scenic route
Different kind of bravery than going solo

How do you market collaboration—to intrigue people send message to and about what you do?

It’s never the same project twice. Once it’s closer to finished and you know what it is.
Try to speak to people about the adventure and journey of committing to a process.

Focus on how to market individual piece
Filtering the process from the wrong angle, getting consumed with what’s populist is a distraction
Collaboration includes people besides the artists—trustees etc.
They want a voice in the creation too, there are many layers from many people with different views
Try to balance things and collaborate with all the interested people
They have resources to bring into the process
It’s an act of faith. You have to go there without distraction and give everything you can
Sue’s 30 years of doing what she does and sustaining it is huge. Matt’s passion and depth of commitment are fantastic

these days you don’t need a PR person, just a profile updater!
Nothing is off limits when collaborating
Don’t market the process except to other artists who might be interested in that specifically as a tool for their own work
People in seats are interested in the product, not the process
Last Dance, movie about the collaboration between Maurice Sendak and Pilobolus, available on Netflix

Question: The audience isn’t necessarily interested in the process unless they’re involved. What are ways to involve them?

re-contextualizing, your stuff next to something else
Practice and learn how to do it

depends on where you are—in other countries they have a different entry point to the work
Heightened access with social media
Theater Communications Group dialogue about people leaving during intermission, short attention spans because used to fast media in small snippets
Everyone’s always stimulated and multitasking
Dance in the South particularly is at the bottom of priorities and you have to engage people on a grassroots level to become comfortable with dancers
It’s about the way you frame it

Comment: Dance needs to fill needs, going to the places it’s needed

Question: You three are distinctive artists, how do your processes differ? Are they more based on accumulation or are they deductive (like the overlap of a venn diagram)?

collaboration is cooperation, you have to be “all in”
Inbal Pinto was making a work with Pilobolus and they freaked her out without meaning to or knowing they were doing it. She said they just kept opening doors and she was afraid she might lose her vision.
Not overlap, try to please everyone. Unfolding, the product is like a document or a map of the process

everyone involved has a commitment to the direction they’re going defined without people leaving
Accumulation of stuff and then try to quantify into experiences
Compromise—keep at it so it gets to its purest form
Defines itself as it goes, challenges
Have to have faith you’ll finish

substantial parallels in the ballet and contemporary realms, just the context is unique and all the change has accelerated over time
Ballet was ballet back in the day, what Martha, Paul and Merce did was like different planets in a solar system, untouchable
A tiny bit of crossover, Glen Tetly going in a trenchcoat to ballet classes
Aesthetic is the context, gravity or contact improv etc. takes about 5 years to become the norm
But it’s all about inspiration, heart, ideas, human spirit
Always shifting—the original people may not get the attention in the beginning
Only way to be honest to spirit of what’s driving you
Always in motion, always discovering
No syllabus can get you there—like RAD Syllabus, 10, 000 kids learn the same thing but only 1 ends up on stage, it’s not the technique that’s important
Someone who’s imagination is burning and they can’t be anywhere else
Every once in a while inspiration happens in art, things crystallize, and to find those moments you just have to keep working

institutional model is going away
Collaboration like holding each other up in Pilobolus partnering “if I mess up I might break your neck”
Not a solar system any more, all together

Question: What are the strengths of the Atlanta dance scene and how can we collaborate better?

Nascent, can go anywhere, but established companies here too
Ready to ignite, own flavor
If you want more dance, just make it

Schroeder: now is a great time, have the top guy (McFall) being open to changes in culture and environment
Next thing we know it’s 30 years, open and interested in making something happen
Back in 1986 when she arrived mostly studio dance, no tier making work
Now have infrastructure, smaller companies, dance programs in colleges, spaces
Multicultural dance too, well positioned
Atlanta Dance Initiative in early 90s helped to blow off the cutthroat attitude, diffused that somewhat
Talking and keeping dialogue going to go further if work together

more we can do to identify available resources
Not limiting by filtering by just dance
Time resource by different to find ways to lift all of it up
Good ideas but all about implementation
Huge opportunity, continue to support
Look at Botanical Garden started in a trailer now doing so much
Communities within Metro Atlanta, find parallel interests out there
Atlanta feels young, discovering itself
We can all have influence to shape what becomes

If you have ideas of how, what you’d like to see happen, please put it on the Facebook page or the blog.

Most collaborations don’t happen because they don’t start
We’ll find a way to continue together.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Cedar Lake preview

Creative Loafing has brought Blake Beckham on as a contributing writer covering dance! Here's her preview for Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet that opens tonight for its sold-out run at Emory's Schwartz Center. For a while there all I heard was the news that someone else who had covered dance was gone. The only articles were the occasional ones assigned to writers from other arts disciplines. Then Cynthia joined us when Pierre Ruhe and Catherine Fox created And now we have two! It's exciting that we have more dance coverage in town, not less, yet again! So thank you to Creative Loafing and to Blake. And if you want to talk about arts criticism, I think I already mentioned it but Emory is hosting a symposium "The Future of Arts Criticism." Blake will be on the panel along with a bunch of other cool folks.

And I'm not going to make it to see Cedar Lake (as I don't most things lately at daughter wouldn't go to sleep the other night with while she was with my sister during the DanceATL event...we just can't do that often because tired babies are cranky, get sick babies!) So those of you who have seats (or floor cushions) enjoy and feel free to share thoughts about the show!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

DanceATL meeting article

Ok, this seems really weird, like I'm quoting myself and creating some sort of self-referential internet loop. But I've been posting links to Cynthia Bond Perry's articles, and this is about DanceATL. I guess it's just sort of a disclaimer that you'll see me quoted because I worked with Cynthia to update the article on the DanceATL meeting. I did take notes from the panel because someone on Facebook had suggested the notes be posted for those who couldn't make it. Apparently I already have managed to misquote Mr. Kent, but Ms. Perry is correcting it and then you'll never even know it was wrong (on nice thing about this fluid medium online!) Anyhow, it's not news for those of you who could make it out last Sunday, but for those who couldn't, you'll get an overview. Thanks to Cynthia for the coverage!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Thank you!

Thank you to everyone who came out for the DanceATL and Atlanta Ballet event last night! I hope you found it insightful and stimulating. I didn't have a chance to thank everyone in my introduction last night, but I wanted to thank them here: SIDEWAYS Contemporary Dance for their beautiful performance, our guest panelists for all their intriguing thoughts about collaboration (I'll be posting notes later), Su Schwenk for moderating the panel, Atlanta Ballet and the Park Tavern for hosting in such a beautiful space, and Keif and Aly for doing all the work they've done with me in the last few months to get this thing off the ground.

If you have more questions about anything that came up for you after you went home, please comment! I'm especially interested in what you think about the format of the evening, with the performance followed by the talk and then what probably could be called "networking". And for the next meeting, who would you like to hear from about what topic? And if you thought of projects that you'd like to suggest for DanceATL to take on to help it grow and help the community grow, please comment on that as well!

Hope to see you at the next event! Until then, you can check out the Google calendar posted at (until we get the full website up, which will hopefully be sometime this summer.) And please contact us if you dont' see your performances or workshops listed!

Thanks and yay dance!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

DanceATL Meeting

And in the midst of trying to give feedback on all the website ideas, putting up the facebook fan page and oh, you know, my regular job and being a mom, I kinda never put up the info about this weekend's meeting!
Oops! You should come meet all us DanceATL folks in person at the Park Tavern on Sunday at 7pm. We've got a short dance performance by SIDEWAYS, a discussion on collaboration with some notable dancemakers in town and a DJ to finish up the night! So come dance with us!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Mall dancing reviewed (not by me!)

Here's Cynthia's review of the Bloom show at Lenox this weekend. I went on Saturday afternoon amidst the crowds and found some dance friends as we wandered around watching the other friends dance. It's such a funny thing to be face to face with someone you know but trying not to make them break character. (Especially with my daughter who kept pointing and saying "dancers!") I had fun watching the crowd, and as expected I heard a "what the hell?" and a very dubious "oooookaay." It also reminds me how bad the traffic is and how crowded it gets--not to ever try to go to Lenox in the afternoon on a weekend again (the last couple times I went to walk around somewhere warm with my daughter, it was pretty much when they open....much better! If you have to go at all, I recommend 10 am. Unless there's dancing, of course!)

Call for Entries!

Beacon Dance, in association with
The Decatur Arts Festival,

is seeking entries for

Breaking New Ground: New Dance at The Decatur Arts Festival

Festival performance dates are Saturday & Sunday

May 29 & 30, 2010, at 8:00 PM each evening.

All participants will receive a small honorarium.

Entry Information -- Deadline Friday, February 26, 2010

Breaking New Ground Theme

For the first time, Breaking New Ground is pursuing a unifying theme for the
work that will be presented. The theme this year will be "A Bountiful
Feast." Entrants are encouraged to frame their entries from this thematic
perspective, and to address this theme in a broadly interpreted manner.
Successful entries will demonstrate a commitment to innovation.

Entries may be no longer than 10 minutes in length.

To enter a dance in the Festival, please fill out the following information
and return to D. Patton White,


Title of Dance:

Length of Dance:

Description of Dance:

(Please use additional space as needed)

Your e-mail address:

The mission of Beacon Dance is to develop peoples' understanding of the art
of movement as a means of communication. Beacon Dance is recognized within
the greater Atlanta community as a progressive leader of the contemporary
dance and performance scene. Continually pioneering the fields of
cross-disciplinary performance and site-specific performance, Beacon has
acquired a reputation of invention and innovation.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Article 19

It's icy out, so I'm watching some dance videos on my computer! Lots of fun stuff to watch from European dancemakers on British site Article 19. And a mostly negative opinion about social networking tools as ticket sellers. It's kind of fun to read something that doesn't gush about how fantabulous social media is, since it's such a huge trend in all marketing stuff these days. But they don't mention anything about Facebook events, which, unlike the status updates that the author says get buried, alert you outside of the status column and don't go away until you tell them to. I agree though, how anyone makes anything out of twitter, I still can't tell (sorry, we're on it to join the crowds, but it still makes my head hurt.) Anyone have anything to say in defense of twitter? I'd love to hear it!
And for now...I think I'll watch the video of Portuguese dancemaker Arthur Pita...

Monday, February 8, 2010

mall dancing

About gloATL's bloom at Lenox Mall this coming weekend, from Cynthia at
I have to admit having gone to the mall a couple of times with my daughter merely to have a warm place to get out of the house (toddlers and small spaces=fussiness). I saw the promotional video and posters for "bloom" and wondered how people register it along with all the other signage and displays in that kind of setting. It'll be even more interesting to see how people react/interact with the dancers! I remember performing one time in high school on a rickety stage in the middle of the mall (and all of us changing in the cluttered back room of a Bennetton...) This should be a lot more fun, to take it out in the halls, or "arteries" as the promo material describes it.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Cinderella interview

From ArtsCriticATL's Cynthia Bond Perry, here's an interview with one of Atlanta Ballet's Cinderellas, Tara Lee, about dancing the role. I was a corps member in Cinderella as a student long, long ago. I really like the Prokofiev music for this, though I think it's very difficult to choreograph parts of it (the "comic" parts of anything are always even harder to get right than the serious!) And apparently it's pretty difficult to play--we had an orchestra when we toured it to a smaller city that had a pretty rough time of some sections. (ouch!) I saw a production in Moscow by a smaller ballet company whose name I don't even remember (Bolshoi was off for the summer when I was there.) It may have also been a student company, though the leads were pretty amazing. Anyhow, enough reminiscing. I'm not sure if I can make it to this production (evenings are still pretty hard to do anything with the little one needing to be in bed by 8 and I think hubby can't keep her for an afternoon.) But I hope all you ATL dance folks enjoy it (performing and watching!)