By Wayne Hazzard

September 1, 2017, PUBLISHED BY IN DANCE
September In Dance cover with Welcome

September In Dance cover with WelcomeBe Here Now — Here Now Be — Now Be Here

These three words, placed in simple rotation, could be tips given by a caring teacher in class, or book titles advocating the power of living in the moment. I equally picture these texts associated with the likes of Ram Dass, Jedi Master Yoda, and a Shakespearean character.

Like this re-arranging of words, artists and creative thinkers are rightly re-visiting, re-imagining, and re-engaging with the power of terms, including nonverbal expression. With the first eight months of 2017 skewing assumptions of a sane and just world, we’ve entered a phase in time arranged in ways that are anything but normal.

Reactions and protests to national and international events are also transpiring at twitter-neck-speed. Each informing the future of politics, the environment, and our melting-pot multi-cultural society: an upheaval of past advancements that’s fueled by hatred, ignorance, and exclusion.

Thankfully there’s a renewed vigor to question authority and policy, with urgency framing each moment. Artists are positioned to provide voice to those targeted and attacked— verbally and physically—for their perceived difference.

While not all artmakers will consider their practice as politically based, all art is political. Especially art based in abstraction, which encourages creative thinking, allowing a multiplicity of interpretations. The viewer, or interpreter, is given agency to reflect on impressions and concepts that determine their stake in what is presented. With the moving body placed at ground zero, its own human stake that signifies a continued claim for liberty and justice for all. A provocation for more discourse and a demand to be seen.

A chorus of ideas resides in this September issue. If I were to pick a theme that connected the unique articles and features within, it would be the theme of perseverance. Persevering as a commitment to dance-making while digging deep. Persevere to identify resources (space, dancers, money, audience, and even accolades) that make the moments possible.

Kendra Kimbrough Barnes, the co-founder/director of the Black Choreographers Festival and director of her own company, talks with choreographer Raissa Simpson about Afrofuturism and Simpson’s work presenting artists during the now annual PUSHfest. We learn about Vanessa Camarena-Arredondo’s recent appointment at the Akonadi Foundation to further funding strategies that will support cultural work in Oakland for people of color. In a piece that pays tribute to the legacy of teachers, Eric Kupers asks questions about the move to increase class sizes in the university setting and puts a spotlight on reflections that speak to the power of giving back.

Since the death of founder Michael Smuin (1938-2007) perseverance has been a calling for Celia Fushille, the artistic director of Smuin Contemporary American Ballet, to continue the legacy of her mentor. Heather Desaulniers reveals the numerous paths that await the company, guided by Fushille’s passion.

Michael Nugent, a new writer to In Dance, is in conversation with choreographer Randee Paufve. They each bring their perspectives to XO, a mashup performance piece that is informed by today and tomorrow’s challenges that explores “archetypes and stereotypes as means of reorienting ourselves in these unsettling times.”

Always, my hope is that the words within provide touch-points to be in conversation, while inspiring and motivating each of us to deliver our message.

Dance and see dance with perseverance and delight.

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.