YES, WHAT HAPPENED? – Seattle Dances


Marcie Sillman’s latest Crosscut article “Seattle was as soon as a hub for modern dance. What occurred?” has brought about fairly a stir in the neighborhood. And it has brought about me to do some reflecting on how the dance scene has shifted since my Seattle arrival in 2010. That is much less of a refutation of Marcie Sillman’s article, and extra of a “sure and” response. Actually the combo pack of decreased funding, a pandemic, and rising prices of residing pose an enormous barrier to a flourishing dance scene. However it additionally felt like such an unlimited oversimplification of what’s really taking place that it doesn’t actually add a lot to figuring out what we have to do to nurture a wholesome modern dance scene.

I really feel like I’ve to say one thing right here that everybody contained in the dance neighborhood is aware of, however is sort of by no means mentioned publicly. There’s been an extended historical past of poisonous, misogynistic, racist and/or incompetent management at nearly each established dance establishment in Seattle. A few of these leaders are nonetheless in positions of energy, and a few will not be. And I hate to say it, however even a few of our most regionally revered choreographers are recognized for creating abusive rehearsal environments and mismanaged firms.

This isn’t new. This isn’t distinctive to Seattle. This isn’t distinctive to bop. However I don’t suppose you possibly can speak in regards to the shifting panorama of dance in Seattle with out acknowledging the fallout from poor management that has sown mistrust with dancers, makers, viewers, and funders. Is it no surprise that many dancers have left the sphere, or left Seattle lately?

David Rue alludes to this truth within the article, however I feel it must be mentioned extra explicitly that the “hub” surroundings I moved to in 2010 was principally a hub for white folks doing white folks dancing. Sure there have been clearer institutional pathways to climbing the choreographic profession ladder. However they had been fairly exclusionary alternatives. There have been additionally artists of colour making work within the metropolis, however much less within the institutionally supported manner I feel Marcie Sillman is speaking about. What I see over the past decade is a big push from Black, Indigenous, and different artists of colour to have their work be acknowledged and supported by traditionally white-led establishments. If we had been ever going to be an precise hub and be related on a nationwide and worldwide stage, it is a transition that wanted to occur.

What do I see now? I see some new and current dance directors working to vary and adapt some fairly damaged programs. I see choreographers insisting on wholesome rehearsal environments. I see new dance areas opening. I see lots of dance leaders working with and with out institutional help to make alternatives. I see lots of pop up firms who’re creating paid alternatives for dancers that didn’t exist ten years in the past when everybody was on the competition circuit however nobody was getting paid a lot if in any respect. I see dance leaving the proscenium and current in a extra fluid manner with the neighborhood, venues, and different artwork varieties. I see the dance neighborhood collectively attempting to make a manner ahead.

I additionally need to say that of the main artwork varieties, dance is the least nicely funded and most misunderstood among the many basic populous. It suffers from infantilization, usually stereotyped as a female artwork kind devoid of the mental standing afforded visible artwork, theater, or movie. Like all issues, dance exists contained in the world at massive, a good portion of which appears to hate girls and homosexual folks, intellectualism and freedom of expression. Dance principally doesn’t serve capitalism and its summary nature challenges typical pondering. Once more, this isn’t new, however contextualizes the truth that dance has at all times been a subject that has needed to struggle for institutional help and so there are fewer security nets when the world goes to shit. Rising prices of residing, damaged well being care programs, damaged baby care programs, and the opposite uncomfortable side effects of capitalism are going to vary how dance exists on the earth.

Sure the inflow of tech staff in Seattle can be an element. And I do suppose on a person stage many many tech staff take pleasure in bizarre artwork and are superior non-monolithic people. However on a tech tradition stage, I feel there’s a enormous bridge to cross there. I as soon as spoke to a bunch of tech staff who mentioned they had been at all times in search of issues to do, however had no concept the best way to know what was taking place and had no idea of up to date efficiency. I take into consideration this pertains to journalism round dance, and the way diminishing arts protection throughout the board has contributed to this divide and maybe Seattle going from a “dance city” to Seattle being perceived as a spot the place modern dance is area of interest. Marcie Sillman has achieved so much to struggle for protection of dance in main publications, and although I’m annoyed that dance journalism in main publications should at all times play to the bottom stage of dance literacy, I’m additionally grateful when it exists in any respect.

I additionally need to reiterate what was mentioned within the article about shortage mentality. Once I was a grant author that again and again folks would inform me “all the identical folks at all times get the grants.” I can guarantee you that isn’t true. The grant system is damaged, and it’s principally a crap shoot and a numbers recreation. One factor I feel we are able to all do to maneuver previous the “shortage mentality” is to be supportive of one another. I don’t imply we can’t make considerate critique—I’m a critic in spite of everything—however a part of a flourishing dance scene is that there’s a range of labor taking place, which signifies that there must be work taking place that isn’t your cup of tea. Be glad for dance, even dance you don’t significantly like! It may be simple to really feel resentful when it looks like we’re combating for a similar assets. However different dance makers will not be your enemy. Save your resentment for the powers of oppression. I, for one, am glad that some components of that outdated Seattle dance hub have crumbled away.



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