Given all the (justified) hand-wringing that dance is in down-cycle in terms of creativity and popular appeal, I thought I?d post two stories about efforts to fight the malaise. For starters, New York?s $10-per-ticket Fall for Dance Festival in New York proved an unqualified hit, selling out every performance at City Center:
?Dance presenters, choreographers and artistic directors are full of praise for what they call courageous programming, for the audacity of trying (successfully) to fill a 2,700-seat theater for six nights of dance and for bringing five companies together on stage each night for a $10 ticket.
“People were pretty much feeling maxed out on formulas for increasing dance attendance,” said Elizabeth Streb, whose company, Streb, appeared on Sept. 28. “This is an idea that could change the course of events for the dance world and companies. It opens the door to wondering, ‘Hmm, what could I put together to have a slam-dunk effect like that?’ ”
And despite the surprisingly nasty backlash this article captures, I have to agree with Bill T. Jones:
? “This is ultimately going to be good for everybody,” he said.?
Meanwhile, on the other side of the country, two Seattle dancers are doing something to fight the pervasive prejudice against dancing men:
?Despite the undeniably cool moves of Gene Kelly, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Savion Glover and countless MTV b-boys, our culture still harbors a weird taboo about men dancing. And that’s precisely the reason Ray Houle and G?rard Th?or?t started Against the Grain: Men in Dance.
Th?or?t, who now teaches dance at Cornish College, recalls, “Ray and I were saying it was too bad that dance wasn’t a popular or acceptable thing for boys when we were kids.” Noting that as a consequence he and Houle came to dance relatively late in life, Th?or?t posits, “We could’ve gone so much further.” He calls this realization the “germ” for the Men in Dance festival, which began in 1994.
Taking place over two weekends (at the “Oddfellows Hall,” of all places), the program features a wide variety of methods, music and men. This year’s festival marks the fifth biannual event and features 12 choreographers, plus special guest dancer Yoko Moshi-Moshii from the all-male Ballets Grandiva. The slate of solo and ensemble numbers includes everything from ballet to breakdancing, performed by an all-ages, all-races, all-male cast of dancers.?
In the dance world, it?s easy to forget American culture-at-large isn?t as progressive as we?d like to presume. ?Billy Elliot effect? notwithstanding, I encounter snickers about men who dance from educated people I?d think would know better (no need to name names, ahem). And it?s good to know this group of dance lovers isn?t just complaining, but doing something about it.
Links via Ballet Alert!.