It’s 2011 and APAP – the Association for Arts Presenters booking conference – is here, which means we get to enjoy 2011 for a few days before we spend a week talking about 2012 and 2013 and, in keeping with the theme of the conference, 2021. So let’s look back, look forward and seize the decade.
The NEA survey’s primary function is to serve as a snapshot: here is the state of the art at this particular time. It serves this function well. But it’s not enough, nor does the NEA claim it to be. Whereas the survey provides a valuable data point that can kick-start forward-thinking dialogue, the practical impact of the survey is limited by the rapid rate of innovation that has taken place over the past few years.
The dance community is taking a wait and see attitude when it comes to the recently announced merger between New York’s venerable Dance Theater Workshop and the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company. And many observers say they are cautiously optimistic that the merger, unprecedented in the American dance world, will succeed at a time when so many groups and venues are struggling to survive.
Some pre-professional ballet schools have taken a multi-disciplinary approach to wellness while others have focused primarily on the physical needs of their students. These differing approaches seem to imply that schools are justified in cherry-picking the multi-disciplinary model for the individual components they want. However, the very nature of ballet training makes multi-disciplinary wellness a necessity, not an option.
Rather than focusing solely on the body, many dance practitioners have begun to move toward a multi-disciplinary approach to training. This approach often includes attention to proper nutrition and rest, injury prevention and treatment, and mental health issues.
The use of the arts in community service programs in a systematic fashion, for example, is an excellent way to ensure that innovative and engaging activities reunite, reskill, and repower citizens. And dance, of all of the arts, teaches us to do those things by thinking on our feet, outside the box, and with each other.
The U.S. State Department began funding international dance tours in 1954 when President Dwight Eisenhower created the President’s Emergency Fund for International Activities, which funded dance, theater, music and sports tours. (Prior to 1954, other government entities, including the CIA, provided occasional support for dance companies’ international appearances.)
Fifty years ago the U.S. government was one of the biggest promoters of American dance abroad. Over the past two decades, government funding for international dance tours by American dancers practically disappeared. Guess what? It’s back.
Increasing funding so that the Americans have at least a fighting chance of matching the support dedicated by other countries is one of the keys to ensuring a greater U.S. presence in the international dance world. It is also about stretching existing assets and using them in a smarter and more cost-effective fashion, collaborating to leverage new resources, and cooperating to share the knowledge, burdens, and costs that come with doing business.
A number of U.S. choreographers and dancers continue to spend a fair portion of their time creating work and teaching in Europe—having decided that rather than sitting in America and complaining about how much more funding is available on the other side of the Atlantic, they’d rather crash the party and avail themselves of some of it. These resultant cross-cultural collaborative projects are a vital (perhaps even the most significant) part of the ongoing dialogue between the United States and the rest of the world.