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.