In Dance News: It’s A Matter of Place

Editorial note: This article was originally published Friday, July 15, 2011 by Jennifer Edwards on The Huffington Post.

This has been an exciting week for three dance organizations—and there is a common and unlikely thread that ties their accomplishments together: geography.

Chicago, Thursday morning July 14: the annual Dance/USA conference opened with a key note speech by writer Pico Iyer. His talk was largely based on ideas about finding home, of artists living as citizens in across an increasingly connected global geography, and dancers offering a window into the internal landscape of human connectivity and quiet contemplation. His words laid a grounded, and perhaps nostalgic, foundation from which attendees might go forth and tackle the theme of the conference: “Dance It. Design it. Be the architect of your future.” This gathering of national dance companies, professionals, and arts organizations extends through Saturday July 16th.

“Every traveler,” said Iyer in an interview, “in fact becomes a dancer of sorts as soon as the words give out, and we find—in Mongolia or Mexico (or Chicago)—that we can say everything we need with gestures, shrugs, and laughs.”
Becket MA, Thursday evening July 14: Jacob’s Pillow launched a new aspect of their Dance Interactive. This feature allows the user to browse a world map and find artists based on country and region of origin. Users can then learn about an artists while referencing their geographic home and finally see a clip of work they performed when at Jacob’s Pillow. The Interactive platform launched earlier this year, and, with the summer festival now in full gear, new content is being added consistently.

General Manager, Connie Chin shared, “Jacob’s Pillow is full of people dedicated to bringing dance and a deeper understanding of it to more people. We have always known there is a treasure trove in the archives and have been seeking a way to give more access to it. It’s very gratifying to open a window to view these treasures via the Internet.”

Boise, Tuesday July 12: Trey McIntyre Project announced that it has received an NEA grant. Through a project called “Our Town,” the NEA is investing in creative placemaking, through which partners from both public and private sectors come together to strategically shape the social, physical, and economic character of a neighborhood, town, city, or region around arts and cultural activities.

Trey McIntyre Project will use this funding for The Boise Bright Spot Project, which will allow the company to spend more time in Boise, expanding existing engagement and outreach efforts to elevate and integrate the arts into daily lives and to continue fostering a sense of “ownership” and pride from its home community. This project will be done in collaboration with the city leading up to its 2013 sesquicentennial celebration, highlighting and featuring art events throughout the year.

In the words of Artistic Director Trey McIntyre, “… in order to fully reach the potential of what a dance company can be and achieve, it is not enough to assemble a collection of effective parts. We, as a unified voice, endeavor to function as a cohesive vision that speaks to what we want to give to the world beyond our individual tasks.”

When put into the context of these recent undertakings and developments, it seems that, beyond the stage and the studio, dance has the potential and the potency to infuse our world with graceful reflection—whether through gathering leaders in the field, contextualizing origin of inspiration, or building community spirit and cohesion. Among the many stories of cities and states defunding the arts and dismissing their generative properties, it’s heartening to report these events.

Jennifer Edwards is a writer, culture critic, choreographer, and messaging consultant. She writes for the Arts and Living sections of The Huffington Post on topics including innovation in dance, culture, and wellness. The founder of JenEd Productions and co-creator of the Home/Body Project, Edwards enjoys pairing her passions for multi-media content, the written word, science, and technology. She presented her work entitled Building Stages Across Platforms: How New Media is Changing the Landscape of the Performing Arts this May in Austria for the International University conference, Performing Arts Training Today, and this July in Chicago for the annual Dance/USA conference. Her degrees, certifications, and accolades highlight her varied background and interests. Edwards holds a MFA in dance from NYU Tisch School of the Arts and was a professor of dance and choreography for several years. She holds RYT certification in yoga philosophy, meditation, and physical practice and has taught yoga-informed stress management for the past 10 years for organizations including the American Heart Association and Columbia University Medical Center. She is a Spoken Word Slam Champion and an award-winning performance poet and essayist. This September, Edwards will begin her post-graduate work in Organizational Change Management at Milano, The New School for Management and Urban Policy. Follow Jennifer Edwards on Twitter:


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