A Data Grind

In the Dancer’s Studio is a brand-new adventure to advance the Baltimore regional dance-art economy.

One must, generally, know their current situation in order to make meaningful progress. To that end, I’ve started collecting dance-relevant, local resources over there on the right ->. These things will forever be out-of-date and incomplete, but I hope to get enough material together here in one place to provide a resource for dancers and choreographers (and dance educators, and dance audiences).

In conversation with dance people over the past several weeks, it has become obvious that even those people deep into their own dance don’t realize just how broad and varied the business of dance is in and around Baltimore. In the “Learn Something” list, you’ll find well over 100 different organizations teaching dance in the area, and I know I’ve missed several. I’ve also started collecting information on work opportunities, places to dance (and recommend you check out the newly-launched Baltimore SpaceFinder), performers available to work, organizations, and, in the near future, I’ll be adding performances. For now, most of these things on the right are not much more than links, but if you think aggregating some level of information here is useful, we can certainly do that. This is all very rough, so please pardon the dust and noise while I pull things together.

Once the data grind is mostly settled, I’ll start focusing more on commentary, analysis and prose.

If you notice something I’ve missed, please do let me know. If you’d like to contribute to this space, I’m very interested.

A Declaration of Elevation

It’s a holiday weekend, so someone should have some fun. There is no King or Evil Empire to pick on, and I am certainly no Thomas Jefferson, but the time is ripe, for many reasons, to step up a notch (or five, six, seven, eight…)

When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one art form to assume a higher station to which the Laws of Nature entitle it, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that it should declare the causes which impel it to the elevation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident…

  • That people Dance, have always danced, and that dance is a positive experience for Performer and Audience alike.
  • That to secure this experience in the modern era, Facilities are constructed by People.
  • That whenever facilities are inadequate, it is the Right of the Dancers to institute new facilities, laying their foundation on such principles and organizing their powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Success, Safety and Happiness.

Such has been the patient sufferance of these performers; and such is now the necessity which compels them to create new facilities. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

They engage in the most ephemeral of art forms, physically manifesting for only moments before being left as a memory in the minds of their audience. That even the most elaborate of notation, photographic and highest definition videographic capture fail to preserve the experience of the performer and their audience.

They have rehearsed in facilities inadequate to their profession and skill. That in some of these facilities, they dance on concrete, damaging joints, or on floors of splintering plywood, risking bloodshed.

That the temperature has been unregulated, in some cases lacking both heating and cooling. That cold rooms lead to injury, and warm ones lead to exhaustion.

That they always have, and will continue to perform through injury and exhaustion, but that when they do seek medical attention, their access to competent medical care is limited, and that the special concerns of the performer are not always fully or promptly addressed.

They have performed under low ceilings, also on concrete and splintering floors, with inadequate sound, and inadequate, sometimes fluorescent, lighting. Their audiences have been crowded into rooms too small and spread out in rooms too large, so they appear nearly empty.

That the presentation of dance is expensive, requiring the collaboration and equipment of many professional disciplines to execute fully. That when they can find safe and appropriate facilities to perform, the cost often exceeds even the most optimistic budgets of their companies. That dancers often perform for little to no wage, and, in some cases, pay to perform.

That their performances are often one-time or one-week-only, and that there is no time for an audience to develop. They have performed without critics or reviewers, and only rarely reprise a piece often enough to build an audience. That without the external perspectives of a well-engaged audience, their art form languishes, often drifting aimlessly.

That performers invest both time and money in their training, and that their career is often inherently short. That this training itself is expensive and time-consuming, and often requires extended travel. After years of training, in some cases, through University, they must move to find work, or give up their prime performance years to teach, or, in many cases, leave the dance entirely.

That small groups of performers, constrained by a tradition of genre or interpersonal politics, effectively limit access to engaged audiences.

That the bureaucratic and reporting requirements of grandwriting and fundraising often intimidate or overwhelm small organizations, and so many funding opportunities are ignored.

That millions of dollars have been spent to construct facilities for performance, with no regard for Dance.

In every stage of these Oppressions they have Petitioned for Audience in the most humble terms: Their repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury.

We, therefore, the Representatives of Dance in this fair City, do solemnly publish and declare, that these united Dancers are, and of Right ought to be Building the Facilities they Need.

Happy 4th, you crazy diamonds.