Dance Issues as Revealed by the Baltimore Regional Dance Survey 2017

With this post, I’m wrapping up the first pass through the Baltimore Regional Dance Survey 2017 Edition. It’s far from formal (no footnotes! and I’m trying to keep a friendly, accessible tone), but this series of posts is something on the order of 9000 words (plus the thousand or so coming below) and over 160 charts (and these aren’t even the good charts!). So, there is much to discuss, and the floor (or at least the comment sections) are yours.

I’ve glossed over several things (services supplied, class space satisfaction) and skipped others almost entirely (class size, non-class expenses, geography of instruction venues, geography of performance venues). In time, I’ll come back to these with enough context to make them meaningful. Having said that, I hope this proves to be a meaningful and useful set of publicly-available data for participants in the Baltimore regional dance community to reference. It is a small sample, and I hope to improve on that in the future (your suggestions are welcome). It’s a biased sample, skewing heavily toward older instruction-oriented members of the community (there was apparently some confusion about the intent of the survey early in its deployment, and some people thought only “dance professionals” should participate). The survey instrument itself needs some work. The pool of respondents, to make this really meaningful, has to expand to include the beginners and outsiders, the casual and dedicated. It’s a start, and with your help, it may reach those goals.

Thanks to everyone that participated, and for those that got caught in the snags and hiccups along the way, I do apologize and appreciate your patience.

You are always welcome to comment here on the blog or reach out via this form or email. For those of you that I’ve worked with or will work with in the future, constructive comments, thoughts and criticism is always welcome, however you may find me. With that preamble, let’s take a look at that nagging question at the end.

As I teased at the beginning of these posts, the last question was entirely open-ended, “Please describe any other issues that affect dancers or dance development in Baltimore Area.” Describe them you did.

In no particular order, sliced up a bit to combine similar comments, and to fix little things, here are your issues:

Space

  • Affordable access to studios and a performance space with good floors. This is the main need to grow and support Baltimore’s dance community.
  • Finding affordable dance/performance space.
  • We should have more venues throughout the area.
  • Lack of space.
  • Theaters that can be afforded have poor lighting and sound.
  • I wont say we have a venue to properly perform a yearly showcase.
  • Rentable rehearsal space which is private (has a door), has a ceiling taller than 10′, and allows heels.
  • Performance venues with ceiling height taller than 10′, a small private dressing area separate from audience circulation, stage floor WITHOUT carpet.
  • When we first started teaching 28 years ago, line dance venues were abundant. Unfortunately, these venues have slowly dried up over the years. Just wish there were more venues in the area!
  • I’d love affordable space where I can rehearse my own work and a venue to showcase new works.
  • We need more collaborative spaces for dance in Baltimore.
  • It would be nice if a space could be defined with dance activities that would bring different dancers together in one venue.
  • Affordable and available performance space is a major concern, possibly a dance center-one location for a variety of dance activity.
  • There needs to be a venue/performance space that caters to dance as well as fostering a community.

Development (as dancers)

  • Finding professional level classes after graduating from college and dance companies in MD
  • There is also in my opinion not enough quality modern classes for dancers to take in an open class setting. I tend to travel to NYC or DC to take a modern class–one that is built on deepening knowledge of a technical and artistic foundation rather than improv or performance art.
  • Very few classes beyond beginning ballet are available for adult dancers.
  • We need more dance classes in Baltimore.
  • There are not enough quality dance classes for the advanced dancer in the city of Baltimore.
  • Classes and teachers geared toward aged 40 and and over dancers
  • I would like to see more open classes for adults/professionals without the commitment to a company.

Money money money

  • Availability of money.
  • Not having enough funds to pay dancers.
  • Lack of funding.
  • Many dancers have job commitments, no cars and lack of funds to attend to regular dance classes.
  • Finding affordable choreographic opportunities.
  • From my point of view, issues such as transportation, time and money affect dancers in the Baltimore area that I work with.

Work work work

  • We have no major dance companies that can support a dancer for full time work.
  • There is quite good training for dancers in Baltimore but then they must leave Baltimore if they are looking for professional work outside of teaching.
  • Finding professional level opportunities that are diverse/reputable and for which artists get paid.
  • Retention in local dance companies suffers from lack of dance opportunities/community.

Race and Segregation

  • Veteran Black Non-classical dancers/instructors do not get as many open doors or compensation, as their Caucasian counterparts.
  • The dance world is a collection of dance communities still segregated and “cliquish.”

Accessibility

  • Accessibility and facilities in compliance with ADA.
  • Lack of accessibility.

Models

  • Ongoing professional dance performance presentation (national companies appearing in the area regularly) would positively effect dance development in Baltimore–inspiring young dancers, demonstrating excellence, possibly creating opportunities, and more.
  • Respect for work

Safety

  • You have to travel in unsafe areas.

Support

  • In my field of Mexican Folk Dance I wont say we have enough exposure.
  • There is not enough of the art scene in general in Baltimore
  • Exposure to media to promote the arts.
  • There is not enough support.

So with that, and your issues on the table, I invite your feedback, comments, and suggestions. As I’ve said in a few places throughout these posts, I’m happy to address specific issues individually if you’d like to reach out. In the meantime, I’ll continue to do what I can to map (and eventually change) the landscape of dance in Baltimore for the better.

You have my support.

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