What are your thoughts?
Here’s the first article on the financial state of dance– or rather, dancers. Lightsey Darst writes of how little our culture (under)values dancers (and perhaps, how we undervalue ourselves) which has lead us to a place where most dancers walk the poverty line. It’s like we’ve become replaceable in our society. Yet experience, talent, and expertise rank us akin to other artists bringing in livable wages.
Here’s the response by dance community leader, Jennifer Edwards.
Here is what I see as her main point:
“Once upon a time, dance served vital purposes in the fabric of our societies: it brought rain, helped crops grow, made women fertile, brought victory to kings, solved international squabbles, brought people together, and solidified marriage vows. As new tools and rituals formed — irrigation for crops, drones for wars, TV night for couples, IVF for reproduction — dance, instead of innovating, instead of staking its claim, became the separatist art form: the one “no one understands,” the one that still wishes “things would just go back(ward) to how they used to be.” And we wonder why we are the poorest? We’ve made something, told people they won’t understand it, sequestered ourselves indoors, and complain that no one buys tickets or makes hefty donations. There’s a marketing model in there somewhere, but I’m pretty sure it’s not a good one. Now, I am of course speaking of the field in general — there are empowered, clearly focused, dance-makers out there, who are doing well and effecting change.
…The bottom line is that dance is no different from any other industry — we must innovate or we will fade away. One potential model, which is certainly not the answer, might be to grow our brand as kinesthetic intellectuals — something that this country desperately needs. Applied-physical-awareness would help leaders command respect, school children focus, laborers and health care workers to work physically with less injuries. If dancers owned their skills — if we built a program and marketed healthy, body-centered, self-awareness practices that grew organically from dance — then we could do our work, make our art, grow students/clients and audience simultaneously. All while growing generations that naturally understood and appreciated dance — we could once again have value within the social sphere. However, we would first have to value ourselves and believe in the value our craft.”
And to this we say, Frame is trying! I’m getting down and artsy, thinking and planing through my next show at Fresh Arts. Moving forward, making it approachable, making it approachable without sucking the art out of it. That’s my runway. Do read these articles, it’s important to know where our discourse is as a community. And we have some super fine spokespeople.