Community — A complex notion? Or as simple and essential as breathing?
Our community can be represented by those we are born into, or those we choose for consistent needs and desires. I am amazed at how my own communities continue to expand and with a quick count I can identify 16 different areas that I work in and contribute to. My communities are the source of inspiration and gifts, relationships that create change within myself. They shift from reality to virtual-reality, addressing and expanding my definitions of this humanizing term. How do you define community?
The dance world has hundreds if not thousands of communities, many overlapping in how they express themselves, the culture they represent or where the form is studied. The largeness of the field and the fact that it continues to grow is inspiring and daunting. How do we support and bring visibility to movement based arts with a complex, evolving range of agendas?
Several years ago, I met with Anna and Lawrence Halprin to discuss a performance project. Amidst the bucolic hills of Marin County, next to the infamous Halprin dance deck we sat within a stone’s throw of majestic oak trees, birds and bugs galore and a whimsical statue of Yoda, all adding to the unclassifiable mix of embodied life-art process that the Halprin’s are known for. As Anna introduced me to her husband she boldly stated that I work for the Bay Area dance community. He looked at me and smiled, proclaiming “Oy Vey!” We all laughed and in the moment there was an intuitive understanding of how dauntingly comprehensive that sounded, how large, complex and diverse this community is. It still strikes me as funny that one organization be placed on the proverbial pedestal and lauded as leading such a wide-ranging dance community. Yet that is what Dancers’ Group attempts to do. In all other fields and definitely in politics, we place leaders of our communities in these titular moments, reminding me of that afternoon with the Halprin’s.
Each article in this issue shares a link to our local, regional, national and international communities of dance. I see a growing ripple effect that is generating overlap and allowing like-minded endeavors to strengthen our work. Concentric circles are revealed in an article from noted journalist Elizabeth Zimmer; the biannual Tanzmesse Festival (Germany) will host local artists, Liss Fain and Ben Levy, and encourage new connections across many borders and boundaries. Sherwood Chen distills his experience of shared territories, place and form, through the work and research of Shinichi Iova-Koga and Ko Muroboshi during an inkGround residency. Their findings will be revealed at the SF International Arts Festival this month. People living with Parkinson’s is certainly a community not readily associated with dance, but as Claudia Bauer’s article reveals, Claudine Naganuma’s upcoming show illuminates a rich world that bridges because of an incurable motor disorder. One glance at the cover image above and you’ll see the spritely delight and focused artistry that defines the worlds of Sara Shelton Mann and David Szlasa. They are interviewed by Sonia Reiter who reaffirms why these artists make magic together. This issue also rallies around the wealth of summer workshops that take place each year in the Bay Area. With over 70 listings you can be assured to find a style or teacher to assist you in shaking your groove thing, or at the very least continue developing a more nuanced understanding of your movement community.
Recently I visited Washington D.C. for the annual Arts Advocacy Day, my time and discussions energized around the value of arts and arts education with colleagues from across the country. This gathering incites me to the use the word communitarianism, a term that can broaden our vision and intention, bringing additional resources and audiences to our work.
Enjoy the many moments that will expand your definitions.