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Village Voice article on dance economics and politics

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I wanted to pull this over from Links to call attention to it before it disappears into Cyber Limbo. It's a collection of brief interviews from different perspectives in the dance world -- very New York centered, but this is the Village Voice, so that's to be expected. Because this article is from a modern dance perspective (although ballet is also included) Zimmer begins the "dance boom" with the establishment of the NEA and the Age of the Grant. Ballet historians usually date the ballet boom earlier, and link it to Hurok and the Age of Stars. A minor point, but one that shows the importance of perspective.

More importantly, do any of these points/complaints/issues ring true? For those outside New York, is your city facing similar problems?

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I think the boom was a combination of several things: Hurok and the age of stars, the news worthiness of the defecting Russian dancers (made big headlines and were seen as exotic by the general public), the NEA and the Ford Foundation Scholarships. And, I do think there is a cyclical quality to booms and busts.

As George Burns said when his fame began to climb when he was so very much up in years "I'm so old, I'm new".


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Funny for me to read that article, I know many of the people personally. Most poignantly, I chatted with Homer Aviles at Paul Taylor's season. He was on crutches but did not mention his pending operation. I assumed it was just a dance injury :)

As for a few of the other pieces; gripe sessions are healthy things, but I'm not sure if I'd want mine caught in print! Not everything written was a gripe; I think Mindy Aloff's "A Dance Critic's Lament" is more than that. It's an excellent analysis of some of the traps that those considering choreography must face.

I also found Karl Anderson's article interesting, because I came to similar conclusions (to make dances, you need money, connections or luck) but for whatever reason, I just took that as a given, kept going and worked on solidifying access to all three as well as making better dances.

Of all the comments, I'm most taken by Arnie Apostol's in Chris Bergman's essay. Knowing Arnie, it sounds just like him.

If you don't love it, don't do it. To quote my friend Arnie Apostol, "You can sit here and complain about it, or you can do something about it. . . . Make a piece. If it sucks, make the next one better. And if that one sucks, make it shorter. That's all."
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I agree with Leigh that Mindy Aloff's brief summary amazing. Something I will keep and reread. The whole real estate, rent issue in New York is a problem, not just for dance. (The garment district is slowly dying, store by store.) I really think that performing arts need cities and places to perform, and unless there is a real bust, the rent will make things so difficult. But arts also need exposure, and that is where the Village Voice management (not its dance writers) seem to want to have it both ways. The Voice before has had articles about how awful the dance situation is, while it has cut the space it gives for reviews drastically. It can feel smug about criticising the greedy landlords, yet use the space it has saved from printing reviews of all the little companies, which could use the exposure, to print more adds. Again, this isn't the doing of any of the writers in the article, but if the Voice management is so exercised about the current situation, there is something, however small, it could do to help.

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