Where do you find inspiration?
I recently had the pleasure of meeting Nigel Lythgoe, executive producer of the American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance television series. He’s a charming man with an excess of energy and charisma, and frankly, he’s more handsome in person than his regularly televised persona suggests. My introduction to Mr. Lythgoe happened during a recent discussion that was organized by the host committee for the upcoming Dance/USA conference that lands in San Francisco in late June. The panel was both an opportunity to hear from a variety of executive and artistic directors on how they are navigating international projects, local commissions, about the structure of their companies, and in general, their sense of what it means to be a dance company in 2012. This particular panel, as well as others planned, is an outreach and networking effort that also serves as call of encouragement to participate in the now annual Dance/USA convening that will bring an anticipated 500-600 members of the national dance community to our beloved city by the bay.
Guided and hosted by Danae Rees, Co-President of the California Dance Education Association, Lythgoe was in San Francisco to present two scholarships to students at the San Francisco Ballet School; he made time during his visit to attend our panel and listen to the lively discussion moderated by Rob Bailis. I was inspired by his genuine interest in the topics and questions being discussed. Being a man that knows how to attract a large following, he questioned the four panelists–Amara Tabor-Smith of Deep Waters Dance Theater; Celine Schein of the Chitresh Das Dance Company; Katie Faulkner of Little Seismic Dance Company; and Raissa Simpson, of Push Dance Company–if they had specific strategies to target their audience.
I watched as he attentively listened and took in the wonderfully varied responses. This is a man that is truly motivated and engaged by all things dance.
Preparations for the conference are in play, and the host committee is in the final stages of developing the welcoming reception at San Francisco City Hall, a series of performances to be held at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, as well as two neighborhood strolls that will highlight the region’s diverse contributions to dance. With candor and humor, Christy Bolingbroke, the newly appointed director of ODC Theater, pens an apropos exposition of the many reasons to participate in this year’s conference.
Inspiration is like a cosmic storm that orbits around Marc Bamuthi Joseph, the newly appointed director of performing arts at YBCA. He has been invited to be the closing speaker at the Dance/USA conference, where he will both curate and moderate presentations that speak to the creative impulse or in-development ideas for a variety of artistic projects, that will hopefully provide insight and even inspiration for incipient projects. With any new position comes expectations of change and maybe even a re-focused vision. I know you will enjoy reading Maureen Walsh’s wonderful interview of Joseph as he steps into another role.
Dancers’ Group’s May issue features our annual summer workshop guide and is distributed to our growing community of members–over 900–and a host of dance fans in the Bay Area including those that make up Dance/USA’s national membership. The pages within give some insight into the spectrum of dance that occurs in the Bay Area, as well as a glimpse into what someone can expect to learn of the local dance scene when attending the annual conference in June.
Anyone who has held a baby or played with a young child knows it’s one of the most awe-inducing ways of finding inspiration. And our friends at Luna Dance Institute are creating a new program described within by Patricia Reedy, the organization’s Director of Teaching & Learning. She reminds us that perhaps the simplest way to dance is to touch someone.
Happy spring, and join me in embracing change, and listening, and laughing, and letting your imagination run in rambunctious mode.
— Wayne Hazzard, executive director
This article appeared in the May 2012 issue of In Dance.