Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Dancing science

Here's a topic that I meant to put out here a while ago (probably a year, actually, wow). Last year there was a fun look at the "Dance vs Power Point" at TEDxBrussells. And the reason I know it's been a year is that it's time again for the Dance Your PhD project. Last year's winners: Science announces the 2011 Dance your PhD winners and just recently announced, the winners for 2012. I know some PhD students but haven't convinced any of them to work with me on making a video of their thesis. Of course, there's already a lot of work involved in doing a PhD, so this just seems like more to do on top of climbing a Sysiphis-ian mountain. But I love that people are doing it. That dance can speak to these guys who have probably spent zero time ever dancing in a formal sense, and that it actually summarizes what they're researching for us "other folks" better than a written abstract makes me smile. Yay dance!

Monday, August 13, 2012

NBC hates dance

Ok, it might be overstating it a bit to say NBC "hates" dance, but in addition to the overall grousing that has surrounded some of NBC's choices on what to air during the 2012 Olympics broadcast, dance fans do have reason to complain because the network decided to leave the dance sequences out of coverage of both the opening and closing ceremonies.

The opening ceremony included a contemporary piece for 50 dancers choreographed by Bangladeshi/British dance maker Akram Kahn. The piece was a memorial for victims of the terrorist attack in London in 2005. Instead, American audiences saw an interview of Michael Phelps with Ryan Seacrest. Here's an article from the BBC about the upset. (After it had just happened I could find some excerpts online of the dance sequence, but I'm having no luck at this point. Did they take it down?)

And the closing ceremonies featured former principal dancer with the Royal Ballet, Darcy Bussell, and over 200 students of the Royal Academy of Dance, which she now heads. You can see some still shots from Ballet News and an announcement on the Royal Opera House website. I don't know what was put in its place or if it was just cut for length. Either way, it's sad that dance was left out not once, but twice! So are we supposed count ourselves lucky that we actually got to see some of Shen Wei's choreography for the Beijing opening ceremony in 2008? If anything, I would think that the popularity of televised dance has increased rather than decreased in the past four years (So You Think You Can Dance did top the ratings last week). But apparently NBC doesn't agree.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

KSU dance program becomes a department

Congratulations to Kennesaw State University's dance faculty and students for becoming a Department of Dance, separate from the theater department where it was housed up till now. As the department continues to grow in size both in space and numbers, we look forward to seeing more great dancers develop through this program (and hopefully stay in the Atlanta area to keep dancing!)

Thursday, June 21, 2012

More thoughts on our "crash course"

So did you know that there is a national Dance Critics Association? Yep. And their annual conference is starting today in NYC. And so I figure they might have some good ideas for us while we're headed into the design of the "crash course" for writers. And sure enough, they have a whole list of questions to help approach a dance review. And then at the bottom it says those are only by permission (even though they're online...), so I guess I won't link to it here and now (but you can find it on their site). I'll see about getting permission and then maybe I can post, and hopefully give to writers attending the "crash course".
Part of that packet of info will also be a short description of all the local companies we're aware of. So if you see this and you're someone who performs here in town, please add a note to your to do list to get us a tiny (really, 2 sentences or your mission statement max) description. Or else we'll have to make up what to say about you (muhahaha!!)
We are also going to be trying to compile a short but hopefully useful glossary of some common dance terms. Probably good for anybody who's going to be talking to dancers about what they do, really, not just this crowd. Terms like "master class", "pointe shoe,""contact improvisation" and "side lighting" perhaps. What terms do you think would be useful to include?

Notes from the meeting to create a dance "crash course" for writers

June 21, noon-1 pm. at the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center

Thanks for hosting, ACAC, and for everyone who made it to this preliminary meeting! If you didn't make it but have any thoughts about what's in the notes, please comment! We appreciate any input you might have to make this the most effective event possible. 

Emphasize how its ok to approach dance as an audience member w/o having that background--legitimize all approaches so long as they are open
Make the atmosphere of the event comfortable so people can feel ok asking “dumb” questions
Our problem as dancers, when discussing dance, what you think of as being layman terms still aren't really in plain terms enough for the general person--tend to forget how much lingo we do have
Give those attending a glossary of dance industry terms (keep it short)
Also have the list of local companies with short blurbs describing them and contact info for marketing/PR person
Program idea: Dance Basics, short performances, panel discussion
choreography—what is a choreographers’ job? Angela
Current writers about dance—maybe we can just ask people who are coming if they would appreciate more having current writers speak or want to keep it very basic 
Invite the editors and ask them whom to invite--get them thinking about covering dance generally and offer them the DanceATL calendar as a great way to know ahead of time what's coming up (GET US YOUR INFO for next season ASAP, people!)
DanceATL calendar, have it set as much as possible
Timing: Is it possible to get ahead of the Fall Arts Listings/Previews? Might be hard, because those are early fall and we would really have to have the event right now to make it ahead of them
Lure people with food and wine (hey, it's part of the casual and comfortable atmosphere), and how long should it last? Evening for a couple hours
GSU, Emory, Georgia Tech—contact papers, dance depts.
Press Club: Sigele will contact in case they're interested as a small partner event 
Who should do the Dance Basics intro? Sue Schroeder? (Claire will ask her) Someone who can talk in a clear way about dance to a non-dance audience 
Demonstrations w discussion--lec/dem format
Clarify how the different styles co-exist: invite diverse groups to show various styles
Encourage discussion, all opinions are ok
Get comfortable with dance
Open line policy for questions afterwards—DanceATL "writer’s hotline"--"what is that spinny thing called?"
Will we be able to video and distribute? Need not only video camera, but audio equipment and editing. Brian Wallenburg might be able to use their resources bc it's at the ballet (Sigele will check with him)
Maybe just the presentational part being video taped, keep the discussion off the web so there's no pressure when giving opinions
Grant for arts journalism projects—look into, it was NEA perhaps? (Angela will provide)
Discuss student vs. professional
Compiling big list of editors to send around/contact directly
Space: Atlanta Ballet because we need a floor everyone can use
Who does demos? not favoritism in invites, we want wide range of styles and we'll see who can do it in their schedules: Atlanta Ballet, CORE, Dance Canvas, (Juel??), T. Lang, Full Radius, Giwayen Mata or Manga, Julie Baggenstoss, Blake Beckham, Ballethnic or City Gate, gloATL, d’Air, a college group, Anwar/Empire
Nobody gets to do a whole piece, aiming for 2-3 minutes ea tops
Partly important to cultivate writers who are coming from outside the dance community because so many of us are connected with one group or another already (small community). We want some folks to write who AREN’t connected with the dance companies/community directly
Aiming for last week of August, at Atlanta Ballet (Sigele will check what's available) early evening maybe like  they usually do their preview parties: 5:30 reception, 6pm start
Introductions from artistic and marketing staff from presenting groups and others--chance for these staff and the writers to meet in person

Monday, June 11, 2012

Summer dance: workshops

So it's almost the middle of June already! Summer workshops and festivals are starting up all over the place, including here in Atlanta. I'm hoping to put together the next enews, and might even have a new intern to help with it, but until then, here's some news to tide you over (better than not posting at all, right?)

Staibdance is starting their workshop of evening classes this week, at Goodson Yard at the Goat Farm (aside from the classes on the 13th, which is at Emory). It's interesting how they formatted the classes, two back to back on the weekdays. Obviously to include us working stiffs who need to move at the end of the day!

The regular company in residence at Goodson, gloATL, has their R & D summer workshop starting next week on June 18, with two options, either 2 or 5 weeks. These are all day classes and repertory/choreography workshops. And they'll be performing Liquid Culture in various spots around the city toward the end of the workshop.

And in Decatur, at CORE on July 22-28, there's an intensive for those of you interested in improvisational techniques and Laban, with Emory's Lori Teague and Leslie Scates of Lower Left, who's based in Houston.

And elsewhere around town there are a slew of summer workshops at various studios. Feel free to post info on more things that you're excited about since I've just skimmed the surface!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Notes from March meeting on Social Media

DanceATL Meeting
March 22, 2012
Atlanta Contemporary Art Center
In attendance: Ashlee Gardner – High Museum, Brian Wallenberg – Atlanta Ballet, Claire Horn, Jenna Farmer, Aly Brock, Douglas Scott

Jenna’s questions: content calendar, Pintrest, the newest social network (most successful page so far is “best dressed” board at the Ferst), one unified voice

Figuring out what is best for your organization – video, behind the scenes, use content that helps people get to know the people within the organization, interaction

Content Calendar – it is supposed to be spontaneous, if you don’t have anything to say don’t push it, include different departments, interviews, make it personal, interact

Video – 3 min max, interviews are pretty brief, rehearsal clips – edited in best – teasers,

 Facebook – notes are good content – doesn’t have to be video, content that stays longer – reviews, you don’t want to spam people with too much marketing, educate and excite, giving people what they want so they continue to follow you, send out a call of action to share our page with 3 of your friends – encourages exponential growth, tricky because they keep changing things on the platforms (Facebook eg)– just when you think you’ve figured out things – you have to constantly learn things – that is the nature of social media to keep people interested, ask them what they would like to see more of – they will tell you

Brian average – 3-5 times a day on facebook – but not all about AB also tie in similarly interesting things,

Twitter – more, re-tweeting Twitter – online conversation – between the hours of 9-10 X will be there to answer your questions, very conversational, fast paced

Asking staff to share specific language and links on their own social media to help share a unified message.

The nature of social media is that you can’t control it.

Environmental scanning to monitor – hootsuite.com, manage twitter accounts, scans any post mentioning your company, don’t delete negative comments, on twitter they go by very fast and disappear, and on Facebook a lot of times your fans will come in and respond for you – engage them and create a conversation to show that your organization really is interactive, the customer service aspect of social media, no matter what people say interact with them (Hootsuite, Socialbro)

Blog – not competing with other posts, a general message that stays united throughout different media, blog posts to facebook – facebook posts to twitter, but not in reverse

Twitter audience is different than other media, different way of interacting with people, their policy is never to delete anything, the community will usually police the negative people, respond in a neutral and helpful way to any comments

Discount offers through social media – adds a special element, providing things that you can’t get anywhere else, facebook deal, careful about what the reach of your organization is

 Ads for facebook/promoted tweets – non-profit discount that you have to apply for, better for organizational awareness and ‘likes’ not for particular performances/events

More valuable to spend the energy than pay to promote, more important to have a high level of engagement rather than the numbers

Trades/cross-promotion – create a plan to cross promote and share opportunities when they are available Ideas to share email marketing opportunities – a link at the bottom of the email suggested but most seem to feel more comfortable with one on one trades

Storify – social media is moving toward having the ability to collect everything in one place

E-news is a different voice and a different audience than social media, though they connect and will have similar content

Video – polished but high quality is not absolutely necessary

Video is a topic that we should revisit and have a meeting specifically geared toward. Brian agrees to return and speak on that topic for us. (We have it planned for May 17 at noon at the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center)

Friday, April 6, 2012

Atlanta Spaces

Atlanta Spaces was a topic for our meeting back in February, but I have to admit, I was participating in the discussion and didn't take very thorough notes. So rather than trying to recap that discussion, I'm linking to a blog so you can find out more about it. This is a great overview from our partners in the project, C4 Atlanta. I know at least one more dance venue joined the listings because of our enewsletter, but in case you have a venue and haven't heard about it, or if you need to find a space to dance, we hope it's a useful tool! Thanks for bringing it to Atlanta, C4!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Today's meeting

I wanted to write something at least somewhat researched and somewhat contemplated, or maybe an overview of some of what other people say about gender in dance. But I'm giving in to the constant nagging of my 3-year-old to turn on a movie on the computer. So instead, I hope YOU have some brilliant thoughts you'd like to share this afternoon at the DanceATL meeting.

The Atlanta Ballet studios
We're talking with Melanie Lynch-Blanchard and Zoetic Dance Ensemble, and Brandon Keith and Gordie Holt from LIFT Dance about gender in dance. And if we have a really small group (which is pretty likely since I didn't send a reminder email, and it's ACDFA week and spring break) we'll all be going to get pizza! :) Yay dance!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Dance Anywhere this Friday!

So I'm a little late sharing this because it's coming up this Friday, but I was contacted by the folks from Dance Anywhere and I wanted to post the information because it's a really great idea.
And you don't have to participate in a full out performance somewhere, as creator Beth Fein says in this interview, your dance can be anything and well, anywhere, just so long as it's at the appointed time. Here's from their materials:

what if the world stopped to dance?

well, it will!

march 30th, 2012 at 3 pm (Atlanta)

8th Annual Conceptual, Public Art Performance
12 noon in San Francisco...3 pm in NY & Toronto...4 pm in Buenos Aires...
9 pm in Rome, Prague & Cairo ...10 pm in Istanbul, Nairobi & Minsk...
and so on around the world! 

Since 2005, on one day, simultaneously around the world, dancers, students, cab drivers, artists, business folk and dreamers, young and old alike put aside their daily grind and unleash their moving creativity in parks, sidewalks, office buildings, schools, museums, subways, anywhere their dancing bodies will fit. Now in it’s eighth year, conceptual, public art performance piece dance anywhere® will take place on Friday, March 30, 2012 at noon pacific daylight time (PDT) 3pm EDT (New York, etc) 9pm in Paris, Rome, etc.
Artist and dance anywhere® creator Beth Fein explains,
When I first thought of dance anywhere® it was just an idea. Imagine if we all took a moment to dance. It changes your day, your mood… when you stop to dance, you find inspiration and creativity you may have forgotten. With tough economic times, and so much divisive discourse, here is common ground we can all enter, even if just for a moment - anyone can dance anywhere.
At noon (PST) on March 30th, thousands of people in countries (including Estonia, Argentina, Italy, Turkey, Ireland) across the globe, will pause to express themselves through dance. Join us for another year of transforming public spaces and everyday relations into vehicles of inspiration.
Everyone is encouraged to participate, and the project involves people of all ages, abilities, nationalities, and backgrounds.  It is free for dancers and audience alike. Participants have been professional dancers and artists, plumbers, doctors, soccer players, teachers and politicians. Some dances are choreographed, some are improvised, and some stretch the definition of what dance is.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Dance and social media

Dance and social media are a funny fit, in that dance is something so primal and physical and social media is entirely heady and virtual. Yet they also make a lot of sense together in that both in some sense are about connecting with other people, sharing personal stories and perspectives. The big question for those of us who communicate about dance (not those who create dance, mind you, technology and dance in that sense is a totally different beast), is: will social media and all the things available to online audiences  occupy people's time instead of dancing or watching dance, or will it actually increase their participation in the art?

The NEA study Audience 2.0: How Technology Influences Arts Participation in 2010 points to the latter, which is encouraging. But despite the positive view that resources online actually increase people's exposure and access to the live arts, I still find it a paradoxical fit. Seeing video of a dance piece (unless maybe it's the 3D of PINA on the full screen--those of you who saw it, feel free to debate) lacks the immediacy and energy of live performance.  When we're in the proximity of actual dancing, breathing bodies, it has a different impact than watching fuzzy images on a tiny screen. Which might be why people would see something online and still want to experience it live. But those are the people who seek out dance videos online. Does social media actually reach a larger audience for dance? Because social media is self-selecting, and to a large degree you only find the information you look for (or happen across because you have some connection through a person you know, etc.) do the larger majority of people who almost never think about dance ever become interested in going to a live dance performance because of something they saw online? Does that matter if they do, or are we just trying to make sure we reach our target dance-interested audience (something like 60% dancers themselves at least on some level, see the study, How Dance Audiences Engage.)

Using social media as a tool for connecting about dance is both strange and natural. I think of the dichotomy of Pico Iyer's speech. He was last year's Dance/USA keynote who discussed how dance can be a sanctuary from overstimulation and speed of modern technologically "connected" life. He discussed how audiences might find stillness through participating in dance--a very strange paradox that still makes sense to me. I think the problem that has to be overcome is that we have these social media tools available to us, and are therefore using the avenues of the overstimulating world, to then share something so completely different from it. So what do people value that would bridge the gap between the virtual and physical world? I would argue again that the avenues are almost opposites, but (at least part of) the "why" is the same: connection.

And now that we've found a why for it all (haha) here are some looks at the more nuts and bolts of the thing:

And I'm sure there are more, but I'm not finding them when I search right now, so I'll make another post if I come up with a bigger list of useful links! I'm thinking more of a bunch of great blogs and companies that do a good job in the social media space, which I think is a whole other post.

And for those of you who would be interested in continuing this conversation "on land," I hope you'll come to our meeting this Thursday, March 22 at the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center from noon to 1p.m.
We have Brian Wallenberg, Social Media Coordinator at the Atlanta Ballet, and Ashlee Gardner, who does social media for the High Museum, joining us, so it should be a great discussion!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

We're skipping this one

Ok, everyone, I'm admitting an organizational fail on my part. Trying to do a meeting each month is probably more than I can put together successfully with all this not being my main focus. So there will be no meeting this weekend, the 26th, and consequently no February meeting at all. Sorry. I figured we'd try the every month but I don't know if I can keep it up. BUT the good news is I DO have March 22 at noon set aside for our next meeting, hosted graciously by the Atlanta Contemporary Arts Center again. And I also have a plan and am discussing the April 1 meeting with folks already. Then after April we also run into the summer months, which are notoriously empty of dance because almost everyone takes off. So perhaps we can fit in one in May and skip June and July? Really I'm open to feedback here. If there's someone who really has a burning topic etc., or just really can't go a few months without a DanceATL meeting, please let me know!

At one conference presentation I attended on collaboration, they discussed the lifetime of a collaboration in the arts in their experience of funding them and their conclusion was that after two years or so, the people who started with a project tend to get burnt out. I'm happy to say that I don't think that my energy for the project is lessening, and I think we've had a lot of success over the last couple years, but I do feel that I'm running out of ideas for topics without rehashing those we've already covered. I'm happy to reprise a topic, if there is one someone missed before. And of course, from a different angle and with different speakers it can become a totally new discussion. So, again, I appreciate your input.

Oh, and speaking of topics, the one for March 22 will be social media and how we use it to promote ourselves and the entire Atlanta dance community. I'll send out details when I have panelists confirmed etc.

Yay dance!

Saturday, February 11, 2012


Once again, here's someone tackling artists' depths of abstraction and the audience's craving for "meaning" in what they've seen. Or really, a storyline is mostly what "non-dancers" crave, isn't it? Narrative. So here are thoughts from another dance blogger out there: Success and Housewives.
Along those lines, one of the You've Cott Mail missives (for those of you who aren't arts marketers, Thomas Cott is the Alvin Ailey Amer. Dance Theater marketing guru) this week included some articles on elitism and art, which is sort of along the same lines, really, thoughts about how much you should cater to your audience when you chose/create your programming. From Artsjournal Funny, Catching and Not too Challenging. It's a constant challenge in "contemporary dance," or making any type of art, really. Artists sometimes being sort of like twins who have their own language, how much do you need the rest of the world to understand? Or how much of it really does come across to at least some of the audience even if they don't know the exact language? I guess the question is what percentage of your audience do you want to understand, clearly, what's going on in the performance?
A story that comes to mind is a piece I saw years ago where they had a table downstage where they were eating a meal. Or well, they had abstracted it because they weren't actually eating food onstage. Nor did they have fake food. But they did have forks and plates on the table. This struck me as a very strange place to stop the abstraction. Eating, we all do it and it's pretty recognizable. Really just move your hand to your open mouth and I would guess a lot of people watching will get "eat" from it in a charades sort of symbolic way. So how much more of the extra stuff do you need to represent the act of eating? Other concepts, ones that are more abstract already, are certainly harder to communicate. But for the people who like dance, I think there's a general feeling that movement does have the capacity to communicate some abstract things better than words do. And people who don't "get it" just don't communicate that way. The interesting question is whether the capacity to "understand" movement is somehow innate or something learned very early on, or if it's possible to actually teach people to see what they at first are blind to. Any anecdotes of "converts" out there?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Super DANCE Sunday?

So the next DanceATL meeting is supposed to be on Feb. 5. Which also happens to be Super Bowl Sunday. I don't know that the dance community is hugely into football, but I don't want to generalize too much either. (I seriously wouldn't have known it was even coming up except that a neighbor invited us to a party for it.) That combined with the fact that I really haven't planned this meeting yet (!) leads me to the conclusion that we should move that meeting back at least a week. Actually, looking at the calendar, with the Atlanta Ballet's new Twyla Tharp premiere running and Kyle Abraham at Emory, I'm tempted to move it as far as Feb. 26. Any objections? Any suggestions for performers or topics?
The next daytime meeting is scheduled for March 22, noon-1pm, again at the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center. Topic ideas for that one?
I have to say, performers and topics used to sort of hatch out of the ether for me. People would just let me know they were interested. But things are starting to slow down on these types of inspirations after almost two years(!) My thought is that perhaps we can shift the Sunday meetings to being more geared toward artistic questions and investigations, discussions among artists, and the daytime ones can be more business/admin oriented. Yes/no/maybe?
And I'm sorry that I haven't caught up on my overview listing local dance writing in months! I might just have to go ahead and skip the end of 2011 and see what I can do to start over with 2012. It's on my list to-do. As is adding the notes from the last meeting. Maybe that I can do now.
And in the meantime, yay dance!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Off the EDGE schedule

So, you may have all heard something about the contemporary dance event Off the EDGE that's coming to Atlanta (the Rialto and beyond) on Jan. 23-29. Perhaps you even applied to be part of EDGE/Public, just one part of the events that will be going on. Well, now there's a schedule of pretty much everything in a single PDF! To try to clarify what you're seeing:
  • the whole shebang focuses on the two performances at the Rialto Center for the Arts on Jan. 27-28, each night a different program. There are student prices and tickets to both nights together are less than purchasing individually, but at this point there's no industry discount to be had. 
  • that EDGE/Public I mentioned are site-based works that will be located outside in Woodruff Park right by the Rialto in the hour and a half before the mainstage performances begin. Some are local dance groups like Full Radius Dance, Staibdance, Wabi Sabi and LIFT, and others are artists who work in other mediums. I'll refer you to Cynthia Bond Perry's write up on ArtsCriticATL for more details on this.
  • there are three talks (EDGE/Zak) with panels on various topics made up of artists (not all are dancers) including a mix of those from here and those visiting 
  • there are a whole slew of artist-to-artist interactions (EDGE/Artist Residencies) for you intermediate/advanced dancers out there. Think master classes with a little more focus on process than technique in most cases. (I'd also like to add CORE's artist-to-artist interaction with a dancer from Lar Lubovitch Dance Company that's listed as TBA will be Jan. 28 from 10:30-12. Unfortunately, it overlaps with another class. The visiting dancers just aren't here for enough time to fit it in any other time. More on that at CORE's site probably tomorrow if I can get it done before the DanceATL meeting!)
  • EDGE/Backstage lets high schoolers and others with an interest in theatre tech but not much hands-on experience get, well, backstage. They'll have a chance to see what the tech crews are up to at the Rialto in the very packed days leading up to the performances
  • and through it all is a residency with Rina Schenfeld, Israeli dance legend whose bio is posted on the KSU site because she'll be teaching there that week (classes are open but you need to let Ivan Pulinkala know you'd like to attend). She's also giving a talk at Emory and performing a showcase at Goodson Yard (see the schedule for details.) 
So if you can make it tomorrow to the DanceATL meeting from noon to 1 p.m. we'll be talking about all this and more! DanceATL wants to make sure we can have a presence at as many of these events as possible to let people know we're here. So, if you have cards for any upcoming events, please get them to us now so we can have them for the dance table that travels to lots of these (hopefully well-attended) events! Contact info@danceatl.org for more info on how to get them to us. But for questions on this whole EDGE thing, I'll let you go to the source and email edge.artist@gmail.com. Yay dance!