Dance teachers have long known the positive effects of dance training: from improved concentration and grades to better physical health and better behavior. In recent years science has begun to back up what many in the dance field have known instinctively for decades. Read Part 2 of Veronica Hackethal’s article on educational dance programs that tap into the science while transmitting the artistic discipline of dance.
Only recently has science tried to analyze how dance benefits the brain
and brings such joy. One theory holds that, like most exercise, dance
releases a cascade of feel-good chemicals in the brain. Dancing induces
the release of endorphins, the body’s natural pain killers that increase
pain tolerance and boost mood. Endorphins are responsible for the
euphoria experienced during a “runner’s high” and have a similar effect
on the body during dancing. Read on to see how dance educators are using dance to stimulate these brain-boosting effects in children and teens.
Joan Myers Brown has had an extraordinary career. The founder of Philadanco!, one of Philadelphia’s preeminent dance companies, as well as the driving force behind both the International Conference of Black Dance Companies and the International Association of Blacks in Dance, Myers Brown has lent her artistic guidance, her nurturance of many dancers and
choreographers, her visionary leadership and grace under fire to many in the dance
field. On June 13, she will be honored by Dance/USA for her contributions to the field. Read this personal account about Joan from long-time Philadelphia dance critic Merilyn Jackson.
Catch up on Dance/USA’s Educating Dance Audiences research and best practices with this report by EDA director Suzanne Callahan.
moment of reformation [in the arts field] is not a threat … It’s an
invitation for us to think more expansively …. Yes, we have been
obsessed with the performance or the exhibit … [and] with
contextualizing or introducing audiences to [them] or with talk-backs.
But forward-thinking organizations are asking new questions.
— Ben Cameron, program director for the arts, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Speech for Arts Fund, Atlanta, December 2012
Read on to find out more about how Dance/USA through Educating Dance Audiences (EDA) has begun to harness new thinking to create new models for 21st-century dance organizations.
On December 31, 2011, the Park Armory in New York was filled with a
wet-eyed crowd of modern dance lovers bidding farewell to the Merce
Cunningham Dance Company. Never before had a legacy company, one that
made its mark over 58 years and changed the way we understood and
created dances, shut its doors in such an abrupt but planned manner.
Cunningham was an iconoclast from beginning to end.
month the Merce Cunningham Trust released a case study detailing the
extensive Legacy Plan crafted by the Cunningham Dance Foundation. The
88-page report provides details on
the controversial arrangement that dismantled the Cunningham Dance Company, shut down the Cunningham Dance Foundation, as well
as closed and sold off of the Merce Cunningham Studio in New York City.
Not necessarily, but an honest comprehension of and deep appreciation for dance and dancers is, for most, what compels them to commit to the mission of running a dance company. Read on to hear from directors about their experiences.
Times have changed significantly since George Balanchine and Lincoln Kirstein joined forces in the 1940s to create the New York City Ballet. Yet the model those two men established for the administration of the American dance company remains: an artistic director reigning over the creative wing of the organization, an executive director administering the business side of things, and a board of directors to ensure fiscal responsibility, remains. Too often an imbalance between those arms of a company develops especially when the push-pull dynamic between the innately challenging AD and ED positions becomes overwrought. But like a strong marriage or a grand pas de deux, many such partnerships do thrive. They take hard work, skillful communication, and an evolving collegial relationship.
Three years ago, Nashville Ballet moved from a traditional non-profit leadership structure (artistic and executive directors, a board president) into one that looks more like a for-profit company. Artistic Director Paul Vasterling assumed the title of CEO while remaining artistic leader, and reports that the results have been only positive: better communication, efficiency, and cohesion throughout the company. Dance/USA spoke with Vasterling about how it works.
Whether a ballet company is replacing its founder or the person that put the company on the map, change at the top doesn’t come easy. Even if a search firm is on hand to smooth the process, transitions have their trials. As no company wants to stay in the same place, succession points toward the future — for its company, its board, and its dancers.