After completing an online test, the results listed my major personality trait as a diplomat. What a fancy title! And, of course, I embrace this diplomat moniker: a descriptor that makes sense to me given my passion for talking about and connecting people to all forms of dance. When I’m asked to speak about our field, I often say that dance is one of the simplest and most complex words. This dichotomy comes from the fact that each of us brings individualistic ideas of dancing and dancers. These ideas will include desires, visions and even biases about dance. My definition of dance has evolved to encompass all types of movement—from set choreography to improvised ideas—that illuminate moments in time.
Stillness is a dance—stillness as a dance.
Given the vast and expansive range of movement based practices—including what dance might become—are dreams of promoting the endless forms of the moving body an impossible task? Probably, and yet aspirations of expanding access to new expressive endeavors means tackling the improbable and impossible; starting somewhere, even if it might be viewed as insurmountable.
It’s imperative to diplomatically defend the right for dance’s expansion so that expansive ideas thrive.
Then there is the seemingly simple task of making a single dance. For some, creation can be overwhelming and too much to undertake; especially when factoring in the myriad costs it takes to place desired intentions in front of an audience. Thankfully, dances continue to be dreamed of, fashioned from loving and intensely focused hours of work, and then placed in settings that that allow us to experience movement ideas that will be collectively interpreted, and valued, and, yes, sometimes even dismissed.
As an introduction to the hundreds of opportunities to attend an event this month, we highlight a company marking their 70th anniversary (The Salimpour School), bring attention to a festival that promotes exploration of story and feminism (When Eyes Speak: Indian Choreography Festival) and feature articles on exciting endeavors (Somatic Costuming along with the Slay Your Dance Dragons Movement Confidence and Afro-Fusion Mindset Transformation Workshop). While each piece informs a specific aspect of dance, they all speak to an expansive community of movement-makers and their eager fans.
Included in this issue is Sima Belmar’s regular In Practice forum, which has taken a wonderfully wicked new format. Belmar takes to task former New York Times dance critic Alastair Macauley’s farewell article (he retired this past summer) that brings home the point of how complex it is to cover dance. In Macauley’s case, this coverage, aka criticism, reinforced his bias for the work of white men, and promotion of a Eurocentric view of dance. And yet, during his tenure at the Times there were exceptions. In 2015, Macauley traveled to SF and stated in a review that, “I know of no regular event that more effectively, more movingly, recommends this country’s diverse inclusiveness than the annual San Francisco Festival of Ethnic Dance.”
Embrace your dance desires while finding your inner diplomat!