A Call For Opinions on Performance Spaces

On the front page of this site, you’ll find a sidebar that lists many of the performance spaces available to dancers and dance companies in the metropolitan Baltimore region.

These are sorted by size, but each of them has a page here on the site, and I’d like to provide some more meaningful information to dancers about these spaces from other dancers that are familiar with (have performed in…) these spaces.

So, as a general call to the Baltimore dance community, if you’d like to share a comment, or tip, or suggestion, or experience with any of the performance spaces, or if you know of one I’ve missed and should be included, please get in touch.

I’m happy to keep your comments anonymous if you prefer, or if you’d like a link to your or your company’s website included, I’m happy to do that as well.

I look forward to hearing from you soon…

Baltimore Regional Dance Survey is Live

This has been a long time coming, and much more challenging than I originally imagined… but, it’s live now and YOU can participate!

The primary research is being done by a small group at Towson University, this is the introduction to the survey…

This study is being conducted on behalf of a group of Marketing students from Towson University. Its purpose is to take an analytical look at dancers working conditions in the Baltimore area and the general environment in which they make work, as well as to determine the space needs of dancers and support efforts to build new dance-specific spaces in the Baltimore area.

The survey, which can be found at the link below, is the primary tool for this study. It will be circulated to approximately 1700 dancers, students, suppliers, and instructors in Baltimore and the surrounding areas. We have identified these artists from numerous sources ranging from performance spaces, producers, funding agencies and service organizations.

We hope that the generous investment of your valuable time will benefit you and your fellow artists in the years to come. We are very grateful for your time and efforts.

Baltimore Regional Dance Survey

I encourage everyone that performs, teaches, or studies dance, AND (this is important) all those that provide services and support for the dancers to participate – and invite friends!

As far as I can tell, dance in Baltimore has never been studied at this depth – and every bit counts.

Please help.

Baltimore City Safe Art Space Task Force

In response to the closure of Bell Foundry (and other issues in the city), Mayor Pugh has established a Safe Art Space Task Force. This organization is holding public meetings on upcoming Tuesdays at 4pm. I encourage dancers of all flavors to get involved in these meetings as often as possible. Information on the task force is here.

Upcoming meetings include:

Tuesday, March 7th – location TBD
Tuesday, March 21st – location TBD
Tuesday, April 4th – location TBD
Tuesday, April 18th – location TBD
Tuesday, May 2nd – location TBD
Tuesday, May 16th – location TBD (Final Meeting)

Baltimore City Board and Commission Appointments

With the new administration in Baltimore City, there is a rare and important opportunity for dancers to engage on a strategic level with the city.

Mayor Pugh is accepting applications to serve on numerous boards and commissions. Information and application is here. The deadline is March 1, 2017, 4:30pm.

If you dance or are interested in the future of dance in Baltimore, I encourage you to consider applying… there are several boards and commissions that could influence the future of dance in Baltimore, but probably most interesting is the Recreation and Parks Advisory Council.

As discussed previously, city recreation facilities are due for an upgrade. The new administration is currently looking for a new Director of Recreation and Parks, and that person will review (and probably change) the previous plans. It is important for dancers to have their voices heard in this process.

If that doesn’t suit you, you could also have a meaningful influence for your art with these boards and commissions:

Baltimore Collegetown Network
Baltimore Development Corporation
Commission on Aging and Retirement Education
Community Relations Commission
Downtown Partnership
East Baltimore Development
Park Heights Renaissance Board
Visit Baltimore
Youth Commission

I hope you’ll take the time to review the site, the reference guide and if you can, get engaged and get the voice of dancers on these boards…

Opportunities to Support Dance In Anne Arundel County Public Schools

Anne Arundel County Public Schools are pleased to provide students with the opportunity for creativity, artistry, and personal development though enrollment in academic dan
ce classes during the school year. As a community of developing young artists, there are several ways you can get involved through the Adopt-A-Dancer Program, Dancewear Donation Program, Jean Boyd Memorial Fund, or by providing your own time and working as a Volunteer! 

danceFor more information on how to support the arts and students in Anne Arundel County please visit their website: http://www.aacps.org/admin/templates/dance.asp?articleid=1272&zoneid=13

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MPT Artworks Dance Coverage

Baltimore has a wonderful media resource just up the street in Owings Mills – MPT. MPT is a well-respected public television station that produces a number of nationally-syndicated programs, but what’s interesting for Baltimore dance is Artworks, which is put together by PBS stations around the country.

Now starting its fifth season, most episodes are available online. Ignoring the few episodes that are awards-oriented, there are 134 you can watch online. Episodes typically feature three or four segments, and that adds up to about 474 segments in the first four seasons. Of those, 25 address dance in some form (5%).

Here you go…
Episode 102: “A young Muslim woman hip hop dancer who performs in traditional dress” (Amy Sackett)
Episode 110: “Discover the charisma of dancer-choreographer Jennifer Nugent
Episode 125: “Exploring the Rosie Herrera Dance Theatre which combines caberet, hip-hop and drag queens”
Episode 126: “Featuring choreographer for big Broadway shows like ‘Annie,'” (Andy Blankenbuehler)
Episode 213: “Dance legend Bill T. Jones
Episode 223: “The aerial magic of Colorado’s ‘Frequent Flyer Productions‘ Dance Company.”
Episode 224: “The complex physics of the dancer’s leap.” (David Ward, Dr. Tim Hewett, Dr. Thomas Humanic)
Episode 227: “The Colorado Ballet’s moving dance about Holocaust suffering and survival,”
Episode 231: “Native American dancer and choreographer Rulan Tangen is passionate about the transformative, ritualistic power of dance,”
Episode 232: “The Artistic Director of the revived Dance Theatre of Harlem” (Virginia Johnson)
Episode 233: “Introducing a Muslim woman hip hop dancer and choreographer,” (Amy Sackett)
Episode 238: “Paula Zahn’s compelling interview with dance legend Bill T. Jones.”
Episode 303: “We meet Colorado’s Wonderbound Dance Company;”
Episode 318: “A sizzling teaser for PBS’s America’s Ballroom Challenge, the series which launched the genre of dancing competitions.”
Episode 321: “On your toes – it’s the rarefied world of a ballerina,” (Samantha Lewis), retired.
Episode 324: “Vegas showgirls – self-defining artists or exploited icons?”
Episode 326: “Legendary Choreographer Mark Morris brings back one of his seminal dances — and it’s spectacular, again.”
Episode 404: “Legends and rising stars in the rarefied world of dance. Mark Morris talks about a splendid revival of one of his seminal dances, and Bill T. Jones talks about his revolutionary choreography – and his humble beginnings as the son of sharecropper. Then Amy Sackett – fearless hip hop Muslim dancer & choreographer. ”
Episode 414: “A stunning flow of movement through exploratory dance with the Cirio Collective in Boston.”
Episode 418: “A story about Nevada Ballet Theatre, keeping classical dance alive in Vegas;”
Episode 422: “Filmmaker Ric Burns captures American Ballet Theater at 1,500 frames per second.”
Episode 431: “Leaping beyond the strict techniques of ballet with the Cirio Collective.”
Episode 432: “Exploring the improvisational dance process of action and reaction with dance company 3rd Law.”

Take out the repeat coverage (Amy Sackett [Ep 102, 233, 404], Bill T. Jones [Ep 213, 238, 404], Mark Morris [Ep 326, 404], Cirio Collective [Ep 414, 431], and dance coverage from Artworks is just 20 segments in four seasons. A lot of it comes from Colorado (3rd law, Colorado Ballet, Frequent Flyer Productions, Wonderbound), so a nod to Colorado’s PBS affiliate.

And I will close with a request – There’s a lot of dance in Baltimore (and we have more oxygen than Colorado), so make it awesome, make it newsworthy, and get in touch with MPT about getting it on Artworks.

Baltimore’s Future Fitness and Wellness Centers

A little while ago, I mentioned the Baltimore City Recreation and Parks Department Recreation and Aquatics Facility Analysis and Plan July 2015, which is a 100-page document that describes some interesting stuff for the future of dance in the city of Baltimore. If you’ve got a lot of time on your hands, please, dig in. Funding for this plan (more than $135 million) is controversial and political. But this plan is important, just keep in mind that this is a planning document, which means it’s not real until it’s real.

Why is this a big deal for dance in Baltimore? The Rita Church and Morrell Park Community Centers are the first new stand-alone community centers in Baltimore in a decade and follow a dramatic series of closings. The city wants you involved.

Why is this a big deal for In the Dancer’s Studio? Because these facilities will be designed and built over the next 10 to 15 years (give or take, subject to funding availability, etc.), and dance is already part of the equation. The dancers of Baltimore can get involved in the design and allocation of space. I keep asking… What does Baltimore need to make dance work?

Here’s the language used in the plan. Baltimore describes “Fitness and Wellness Centers” as:

…recreation facilities that are located in or near parks, other recreational facilities, and athletic fields. These larger (30,000+ s.f.), full-service centers will provide multiple programs and activities for all ages, extended hours of operation in the mornings and afternoons, and 6 – 7 day operations. The centers will include spaces such as fitness areas, dance and multi-purpose rooms, a gymnasium, and men’s and women’s locker rooms. Several of the new facilities will include indoor pools. The wide variety of programming will be designed for individuals, teens, youth, adults, active older adults, and families and will attract residents citywide.

and “Community Centers” as:

…recreation facilities that located in or near parks, other aquatics facilities, and athletic fields. These smaller centers (less than 30,000 s.f.) will provide a range of programs and activities for all ages with extended hours of operation. The facilities will vary in size and programming depending upon location. Expanded spaces may include a fitness room, dance spaces, multi-purpose rooms, lobby and circulation areas, and men’s/women’s changing rooms/bathrooms. Programming will likely serve more local residents.

These two classes of facilities both specifically include dance. Since we’re about the business of dance here, I’m going to ignore the “Seasonal Athletic Centers,” “Outdoor Aquatic Centers” and “School-Based Recreation Spaces” (even though this will necessarily ignore the nice people at Fluid Movement).

The planned Fitness and Wellness Centers are:

  1. Cahill, $12 million, in design, 32,000 square feet, includes a performing arts space.
  2. Carroll Park, $12 million, funding to be identified, includes a dance space
  3. CC Jackson, $4.22 million, under construction
  4. Cherry Hill, $11.5 million, under construction, includes a dance space, estimated completion Spring 2017
  5. Chick Webb, $12 million, funding to be identified
  6. Clifton Park (Rita R Church), $3.5 million, phase 1 completed 2013. $4.54 million, phase 2 under construction
  7. Druid Hill, $8 million, funding to be identified
  8. Farring-Baybrook, $12 million, funding to be identified
  9. Herring Run, $15 million, funding to be identified, includes a dance space
  10. Lillian Jones, $12.5 million, funding to be identified
  11. North Harford, $12 million, funding to be identified, two phases

The planned Community Centers are:

  1. Edgewood-Lyndhurst, $1 million, funding to be identified
  2. Locust Point, $2.5 million, funding to be identified
  3. Morrell Park, $4.5 million, completed 2014, 18,000 square feet.
  4. Patterson Park (Virginia S. Baker), $6.3 million, funding to be identified

Baltimore Rec Facilities 2016 Plan
If there’s a link to a facility in the list above, it goes directly to the city’s “Destination Active Baltimore” website, where you can engage directly and share your thoughts on what happens. Previously, I mentioned that the Cahill facility was particularly interesting for the Baltimore dance community. This is why:

The existing center located in Gwynns Falls/Leakin Park will be expanded or newly built. Presently in the early stages of design, the form of the new facility is yet to be determined. The center will be 32,000 square feet and will include performing arts facilities, an indoor pool, fitness area and provide a new focus on outdoor recreation and environmental programming. Project completion is anticipated for Fall 2017. Cost: $12 million

Cahill brings 32,000 square feet of facility, some of which is already designated for performing arts. Is your particular kind of dance a performing art? Got any special requirements to make a performing arts space work for you? Cahill is also adjacent to Gwynns Falls Park, which suggests a question… Is an outdoor stage interesting?

Cherry Hill’s plan includes a dance studio, scheduled to open in Spring 2017. Anyone out there need a dance studio space in south Baltimore?

Locust Point has two “multipurpose” rooms in its plan – anyone want to make the case to put a sprung floor in one of them?