In Conversation

By Andréa Spearman

June 24, 2021, PUBLISHED BY IN DANCE

In Conversation, a series of interviews exploring exchanges about dance and different folks’ relationship to dance.

We’ve previously had dialogues that were intergenerational in nature with Mid-career artists speaking with emerging artists about the expanding creativity of melding the mediums of dance and poetry, and about Black & Brown representation on stage and in leadership.

Now I’m speaking to individual artists, who provide insight into who they are, where they are going, and what they want to say.

In my recent attendance of the Dance/USA annual conference, I observed a connecting thread of reexamining and reframing relationships. Between presenters and artists, as well as between the individual artist or company and performers. There was a large concern and consensus that the old ways of arts leadership and structure must change quickly.

How are medium-large sized organizations providing access to mental health support services? In contract making, where are we including force majeure clauses?
How is everyone (funders, administrators, boards, companies, etc) staying in open communication with each other and their communities?

Community – a word that has gone beyond definition this past year. Especially in the Bay Area. The conversations that have been sparked are those of investigation, those of breaking down barriers, and those of not returning “back to normal.”

Please take a listen as I dive deep into conversation with Erik Lee, a teacher, choreographer, and dancer with Dimensions Dance Theater. We address bringing spiritual practice to the stage with the bold choice of starting a dance company during a pandemic and how he plans on not “reopening” but opening new.

La Mezcla Founding Artistic Director Vanessa Sanchez and I discuss the shifting of relationships between funders and artists to more informal gatherings and open circles of communication. We also delve into strategies for white-led organizations to make concrete changes in their leadership and presentations of BIPOC artistry.

– Introduction by Andréa Spearman, Dancers’ Group Artist Resource Manager


Erik Lee

Headshot of Erik Lee
Photo courtesy of artist
[ID: Medium brown skinned Black male with shortly faded dark brown hair. He is wearing a gray and white striped sweater with a unbuttoned dark blue long sleeve dress shirt. He looks directly into the camera with the beginnings of a smile.]

One of the things that I’ve been in conversation about is space, particularly for dancers of color and companies of color to have access to spaces that are in good condition. Owning space, being able to rent space – it’s always the prevailing issue of: Where do we rehearse? 

***

I’m very much so interested in this idea of opening new – it’s not a reopening, I’m not trying to return to the way things were before – I’m really invested in how we move forward. 

Listen on YouTube

 

Vanessa Sanchez

Headshot of Vanessa Sanchez
Photo by Alexa Treviño
[ID: Light brown skinned Latina woman with brown hair with pink highlights and a bold red lip. She is wearing large hoop earring and a purple top embroidered with pink flowers. She’s looking directly into the camera.]

Who’s getting funded and who has access to getting funded? And really looking at a lot of my mentors in the Bay Area and beyond who… have changed and shaped communities and done this work for decades and decades and decades, but because of resources and because of language barriers, they aren’t necessarily able to apply and receive the funding they should be. With that, I just felt it really important in that I don’t want to be one of the only ones from the Bay Area – in our kind of world of dancers of color who are coming from dance forms from traditionally Black and brown communities – I don’t want to be one of the only ones getting this. There are so many more people who need and deserve this – this funding. 

Listen on YouTube

 

All Audio Recorded and Edited by Andréa Spearman

For more In Conversation content, read and listen to the Winter 2021 issue of In Dance.


These conversations appeared in the Summer 2021 issue of In Dance.


Bay Area native, Andréa Spearman is an administrator, choreographer, performer, teacher, and student of a variety of modern-based movement with over 20 years of experience. Her company, A. Spearman & Co. is a contemporary fusion dance company where all artists are trained in various fields of art including ballet, jazz, hip hop, modern, cultural dance, photography, live vocals, poetry, acting, directing, production, and more. Currently she produces and hosts, The Black Landscape podcast, a series of conversations that spotlight Black people doing significant work in the SF Bay Area communities in various industries including the arts, local government, local authors, the Peralta College system, labor unions, retail and costuming design, tech, and more!

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