By Wayne Hazzard


PLEASE TOUCH ME, IN IMAGINABLE AND UNIMAGINABLE WAYS. This is my wish when entering a new situation, publicly and privately, and it’s also a good mantra. Provocative? Of course, but that’s what makes life interesting, and what artists are charged to do: reframe the situation with risk, spicing it up with surprises, then, potentially, adding a few visual provocations to keep the viewer engaged within a multiplicity of moments. Generating these artful instances is hard work and yet the payoff is incalculable.

These moments often occur when we enter spaces specifically selected by the art-maker—the printed page, a canvas, a theater, plaza, park, gallery, or a wall upon which a dancer suspends herself on a sliver of rope, and many more places that allow me to optimistically enter a new encounter.

The possibilities of touch for each of us are too numerous, and nuanced, and mutable to fully imagine, because they encompass not only making art but many of life’s pleasures. To be touched by a friend’s kindness and understanding, by a sunset, by a piece of music’s sensorial evolution, by the nuzzle of an animal’s muzzle, by an award, by applause, or my favorite, a kiss.

A variety of artists are investigating their own thinking about how work touches them. In a recent blog post on Stance on Dance, choreographer, teacher and improviser Christian Burns noted the moment when “a performance shatters me.” He writes about how “those rare moments feel when a performance shakes me from the familiarity of everything I thought I understood, gifting me with a new set of eyes, a rejuvenated heart and a humbled sense of perspective.” Christian further shares four experiences that shattered, that when read will provide additional insight about reflecting, in awe and inspiration, similar moments.

This month, David Herrera and his company premiere a new work entitled, serendipitously, Touch. The work will tackle the grave issue of what happens to those forced to separate via deportations, in particular the effects they have on the child and parent relationship; a thoughtful and dramatic topic given the issues surrounding the attempts to change the current US immigration laws.

It is certainly not improbable to make a connection to touch in all dance works, and this is the power and potency the art form provides, and with which our community is gifted.

It’s this physical, emotional, and visceral connection to the body that is primal, being able to feel the touch of another person, witnessing a lush landscape, or a flower, or the sweet taste of honey, the intoxicating freshness of greens, of ripe fruit, of holding hands, or the transference that comes with experiencing an artistic act. These are just a few of the limitless elements drawn from the performance palette.

Spring is characteristically the season to discover things reborn, and our redesigned look for In Dance is meant to help our readers perceive those things that we might assume we know about our community in newer, fresher ways. Let us know what you think of the revamping.

Obviously, how we process change affects each of us differently, and Dancers’ Group hopes you will continue to engage with the words and images within. The range of dance perspectives, forms, aesthetics, and opinions is only as strong as the ideas you share with us. We encourage you to provide us with your story ideas that reflect your viewpoint of what it means to be creating art in 2015, and beyond.

Reveal and revel in the mantras that are uniquely you. The stage doors are open, as are ours, so go ahead, touch me.

This article appeared in the April 2015 issue of In Dance.

Wayne Hazzard is a native Californian and as a co-founder is proud to continue his work with the Bay Area dance community as the executive director of Dancers’ Group. Hazzard is a leader in the service field who is known for his work with fiscal sponsorship and on new program development. Hazzard had a distinguished 20-year career performing the works of many notable choreographers including Ed Mock, June Watanabe, Emily Keeler, Aaron Osborne, Joe Goode and Margaret Jenkins. Coinciding with his life as a dancer, Hazzard has and continues to work as an advocate for dance.