What will I find on this blog in the future?

The short version:

-Interviews and profiles of independent artists working in non-traditional centers of dance

-An exploration of creative process in terms applicable and relevant to artists working in both dance and other genres

The longer version:

As an art form, dance is perhaps the one least understood by those who don’t participate. Dance as entertainment is all around us. It’s at basketball games, on television shows, and featured in popular movies. Dance as an art form is a different story. Often the brunt of jokes, contemporary dance is simply not on the radar of many art patrons. Budgetary reasons, declining arts coverage in newspapers, and other factors are impacting dance coverage nationwide, ultimately relegating the field even further to the periphery.

It is my desire to address the need for dance advocacy and education on a grassroots level. I am doing this by profiling independent artists working outside the traditional centers of dance. I hope to learn what drew these artists to where they live and what connects them to their communities.

I want to investigate about the place itself and how the landscape, culture, and people influence their work. How has the place been changed by their presence? How has it changed them? How does the community receive their art? How has this relationship changed over time? I want to know about the challenges they have encountered in order to help others working solo to address their own challenges. How do they stay connected to a wider world? What sustains and inspires them?

As a contemporary dancer, I will focus primarily on the above, but I will also look at inspiring ideas, books, and images. I will use dance in a metaphorical way to explore the creative process in terms that are applicable and relevant to other genres.  My secret subversive dream is that through these profiles I will map the tremendous energy and progress being made in expanding the scope of dance.  I will bring overdue recognition to isolated artists, which will help bring more audience members dialoging with the work they see.

The idea for this blog emerged last fall. My Introduction to Dance students at Arizona State University asked me to tell them about my career as a dancer and choreographer. The question followed on the heels of a unit about contemporary dance, and in particular on a lesson debunking the myth of dance as a career of fame and fortune. To these students, many of whom have only experienced dance on popular TV shows, the statistics about the harsh reality of life in the performing arts was revelatory, The students wanted to know how I fit into what they had been learning.

In sharing my story, a theme emerged. I realized that the choices I’ve made about where to make work reflect deeper beliefs I hold regarding the role of place in art making. In our time, some spaces are perceived as more central to ‘good’ ideas than others. It’s true that a core of individuals working in close proximity to one another are able to create more excitement, or a movement if you will, that allows them to weave a wider web as a group then they would alone.

I love visiting big cities, taking dance classes, and staying in touch with what is happening in those places, However, it excites me to drive through New Mexico and stop at the one restaurant for miles to be greeted by a poster for a contemporary dance event happening in the middle of the high desert. I like people making things happen where they are with the resources they have available to them. From nothing, something emerges, drawing out of others (sometimes long shelved) artistic talent making more art and creating a nicely knit artistic community.

3 Responses to “What will I find on this blog in the future?”

  1. Marsha Collins Says:

    As a person who generally sees personal movement of the body as a mode of linear transportation (ie, a way to expand a person’s experience through exploring new neighbourhoods, venues, countries and cultures) I welcome this opportunity to learn about and experience movement in a different way.

    This is a new concept for me: Rather than a a simple method through which we can collect more inputs, our own movement can itself be a form of artistic output. ie, a swim in the beautiful blue Adriatic Sea could be more than a way to view the surrounding coastline and marine life, but a form of expression in itself. Through this approach, it would seem we can be part of the places we visit, rather than just a spectator.

    This is just one of the ways that I see the potential of this blog for expanding the perspective of novices such as myself.

  2. Forrest Lee Says:

    Very good blog Shug, it really defines you to a tee

  3. Jacqueline Jones Says:

    Here in the UK, my perception is that whilst there is plenty of contemporary dance to be enjoyed, it is rarely high profile and therefore is difficult to seek out. I’m excited to see this blog and hope you’ll cover global developments in the dance world too.