Words and Inspiration from Dance/USA’s 2018 Annual Conference

Missed the 2018 Dance/USA Conference? Check Out What Attendees Said

Collected by Lisa Traiger

Relive some meaningful moments and insightful conversations from Dance/USA’s 2018 Annual Conference. Or, if you couldn’t be with us, read what was meaningful to some of our participants. And, plan to join us next year in Cleveland, Ohio!

  • “The opening plenary speaker was evolutionary and revolutionary at the same time. [Roberta] was so spot on in terms of where we are as an organization and in our own communities around the country. It was a great way to get the conference started and she set the tone of the discussion. It makes all the discussions after so much richer.”  — Rosemary Johnson, Executive Director, Alabama Dance Council, Dance/USA Board of Trustees, Birmingham, Ala.
  • “The opening plenary when that young man [Christopher K. Morgan] came down the aisle and prayed and then he spoke about how important it was that hula was recognized as part of the dance community was an important moment. It provides us the cognizance that while dance is universal, we all come to it with our own bias and history.”  — Kenneth Walker, Kenneth Walker Dance Project, Los Angeles, Calif.
  • “The biggest takeaway for me was Dance/USA’s new mission and strategic plan, which I’m excited about. But I also appreciate the acknowledgement that it’s not going to be easy. Amy [Fitterer, Dance/USA executive director] said, ‘We know we’re going to fail at some things and we know we’re going to succeed at some things more than we thought we would.’ It seems like Dance/USA is committed to being a leader in the field and more equitable in the community.”  — David Mack, Strategic Director, Heidi Duckler Dance Theatre, Los Angeles, Calif.
  • “I have two beings on my shoulder. One is the cynical me saying, ‘We’re still talking about the same stuff. It’s so disheartening. Didn’t we learn from this 10 or 20 years ago.’ Then there’s this angel on the other shoulder that says, ‘Thank goodness we get together once a year to re-think and talk and re-address [these issues]. We are reminded of what has improved and
    what we still need to grapple with and find new approaches.“I wanted to be here for this commercial dance/concert dance conversation … We’re really trying to grapple with that tension on the ground. It seems to me that the only difference between commercial dance and concert dance in the end is how much money you’re being paid …. We have to drop the elitism and learn from each other and talk respectfully in each sphere. We really need to drop our attitudes and respectfully listen, share, grow, and not be afraid to not know everything.”  — Dawn Stoppiello, Assistant Professor of
    Practice, USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance; cofounder, Troika Ranch; Los Angeles, Calif.
  • “An interesting takeaway for me was being among the younger attendees here; I was so pleased to see so many dance artists of my generation represented and drawing tangible ideas [from the conference]. I also recognize the history, lineage and connections with the older generation and how inspiring it is to be continuing those footsteps.”  — Andrew Pearson, Bodies in Play, Los Angeles, Calif.
  • “I was inspired by the dismantling privilege conversation; it’s a conversation we’re having a lot now. We still need to have this conversation [but] you can feel the progress. Over the years this conversation has progressed and there are certain ideas in the room that we have all collectively accepted, so we can look at the next step. As much as there is still work to do, there was a feeling that we’ve been in the conversation last year and the year before and now … we can feel that there’s some progress. That is really inspiring.”  — Ross LeClair, Producer, Joyce Theatre, New
    York, N.Y.
  • “This is my first time attending Dance/USA’s conference. I was blown away by the extent and depth of the conversations …. They go beyond dance and into the larger world in general. I appreciate the organization’s mission and I’m looking forward to seeing what changes. The opening plenary made me realize that what we do is about more than just dance and it set the
    tone for how we engaged with each other.” — Judy Marcelline, Operations Manager, Mash Up Contemporary Dance Company, Los Angeles, Calif.
  • “The wisdom circles were a takeaway for me …. Surround yourself with people who love you. Trust yourself and trust the authenticity of your work. Live in your truth through your heart, through your connections, through you conflicts.”  — Cheryl Delostrinos, Artistic Director, Au Collective, DILT 2018-19 Mentee, Seattle, Wash.

Collected by Lisa Traigerwho edits From the Green Room, Dance/USA’s online journal, and writes frequently on dance and the performing arts for a variety of publications including Dance, Dance Teacher, Washington Jewish Week and DCDanceWatcher.


We accept submissions on topics relevant to the field: advocacy, artistic issues, arts policy, community building, development, employment, engagement, touring, and other topics that deal with the business of dance. We cannot publish criticism, single-company season announcements, and single-company or single artist profiles. Additionally, we welcome feedback on articles. If you have a topic that you would like to see addressed or feedback, please contact communications@danceusa.org.

Disclaimer: Opinions expressed in guest posts do not necessarily represent the viewpoints of Dance/USA.

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