Sunday, March 16, 2008

e-news 3/16

Just sent the new issue of my teacher's e-newsletter that I help with.

Click here to see the March 16 issue.
Click here to view archives.
Click here to subscribe.

My article in this issue:

Where is all the Dance Writing?

As some of you know, I've been pursuing a writing career on top of a ballet career, and as few coveted paid positions there are for dancers out there, there are even fewer for those who write about dance. Aside from e-newsletters like this one and a critique every now and then in the New York Times, the world of dance rarely reaches the general public through the media. Perhaps there just isn't the readership for it. But how can dance evolve onstage and in class without an audience to support it?

Last week the Los Angeles Times announced that it would eliminate its staff position of Chief Dance Critic apparently due to financial reductions. Other national newspapers and magazines have cut back on both their dance coverage and writers, including The Village Voice and New York Magazine. How often do you read about this art form you practice besides in advertisements likely far beyond the budget of small non-profits or in targeted, specialized magazines for the professionals?

Luckily, this past week an article appeared in Newsweek Magazine (March 17 issue), not by a snarky dance critic but by a respected male principal dancer with American Ballet Theater. In "Don't Judge Me By My Tights," Sascha Radetsky, whom many may know as Charlie from the film "Center Stage," writes about the challenges he and other male dancers face in the ballet world due to our culture's stereotypes of men in dance.

Though his point is valid and applicable even to male dance enthusiasts who take class for the pleasure of it, I would argue that there are greater issues that could have filled the full page that Newsweek so generously allotted. Radetsky says, "The boy who perseveres in dance must have a genuine hunger for it, must be uniquely motivated and dedicated, and must develop a truly thick skin." Is this not true for girls as well?

With all the issues plaguing the dance world (funding, health issues, development, etc) it seems a shame that the national exposure of our delicate art form is limited to a rare spout of a dancer's frustrations. Why isn't dance given the publicity it deserves?

"Exposure to ballet is all that is needed to open minds," Radetsky writers, "for the combination of athletic movement, ardent drama and beautiful music can instill a profound appreciation in an audience." So spread the word. If the news media won't do it, we as dance-lovers can play a part in promoting the art simply by sharing our respect for it with others. Exposure.

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