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Buzz, 2-10: The Great Society
Hundreds of thousands for Danspace Project; Green Light for Elevator
Repair Service; Adieu la Belle Becky; Kartoon Kaos Theory
Copyright 2006 The Dance Insider
Photo by Herbert Migdoll
We're in the Money
Danspace Project, which
has long taken the lead in commissioning among New York dance presenters,
will receive a four-year grant of between $360,000 and half a million
dollars to increase its commissioning, augment technical and presenting
support for international artists, and prepare for a capital campaign.
"We are overjoyed about this honor," said executive director Laurie
Uprichard, whose theater is one of 17 presenters across the country
to receive similarly-sized grants from the Nonprofit Finance Fund's
Mid-Size Presenting Initiative. ("Mid-size" would apparently refer
to the size of the recipient organizations' infrastructure, not
the scope of their visions.)
For the purposes of this
initiative, Uprichard says, Danspace Project "will be looking to
increase artist commissions from their current level of $2,500 to
$3,000 - $5,000. We will aim to increase artist fees, currently
based at a guarantee of $2,000 vs. 50% of box office income, whichever
is greater, to a guarantee of $2,500 over the grant period. The
presentation of international artists should be effected with greater
fee and technical support."
Supported by the Doris
Duke foundation, the NFF also awarded grants to Aaron Davis Hall,
Bang on a Can, the New Orleans Contemporary Arts Center, DiverseWorks,
Kuumbwa Jazz Society, La Pena Cultural Center, Manchester Craftsman's
Guild, Miami Light Project, Myrna Loy Center, the National Black
Arts Festival, New World Theater, On the Boards, Outpost Productions,
Philadelphia Live Arts Festival/Philly Fringe, the World Music Institute,
and Youth Speaks.
"Gatz"'s Green Light
Speaking of visionary,
if we go to the oracular heart of that word, I think it would imply
seeing the future before others. As director of New York's PS 122
for some two decades, Mark Russell surely did that. If the theater's
board was idiotic enough to not retain Russell, the theater has
not been so stupid as to totally abandon his legacy; thus this month's
return of Elevator Repair Service, currently in the school-house
with "No Great Society," in which the other-worldly being known
as Susie Sokol, and Ben Williams, as directed by John Collins, riff
on Jack Kerouac and Steve Allen. But the real big news is that,
as a theater company whose words (and occasionally its actors) dance,
ERS has apparently found it easier than US dance companies to infiltrate
the scene here in Paris, where it will highlight the Festival d'Automne.
Before that October gig, the company will bring its epic "Gatz,"
inspired by the greatest little novel of all time (F. Scott Fitzgerald's
"The Great Gatsby"), to Brussels and Amsterdam, following the French
gig with dates in Oslo, Bergen, and Trondheim, Norway. My counsel
to European choreographers who would continue to try to be playwrights:
Look at how this theater company approaches the dance-drama marriage,
and learn your lessons well.
Adieu la Belle Becky
Speaking of winning
combinations, Rebecca Wright, former star of the Joffrey Ballet
and American Ballet Theatre -- and also "an awesome teacher and
coach," as our webmistress Robin Hoffman, a former Joffrey dancer,
tells me -- passed away January 29 from cancer, at the age of 58.
At the time of her death, Wright was serving as the director of
the Washington School of Ballet. She had also directed dance programs
at Adelphi University, the Joffrey/New School, St. Paul's School,
and American Ballet Theatre.
"She was a wonderful
mentor, colleague, and when I was a student at the Joffrey, one
of our beloved icons," dancer and choreographer Suki John recalled.
Jon Teeuwissen, executive director of the Joffrey and former general
manager of ABT, recounted: "I met her 25 years ago -- she stayed
in my home when she came to work with a small regional company I
was involved with in West Virginia. She had just started taking
voice lessons, and so she was always singing." (The singing lessons
worked; Wright was nominated for a Drama Desk award as best supporting
actress in a musical for her role in the 1983 "Merlin.") "We re-connected
during my time at ABT, and I must say I loved her (and all her craziness).
She was a gifted artist, and just a totally fun person to be around.
She had planned on being a part of the Joffrey's 50th anniversary
in June. She will surely be missed."
(For more on the inspiration
provided by Kelly, check today's Flash
Flashback from Aimee Ts'ao.)
I won't spend a lot
of time on this because it's been covered in depth elsewhere, most
informatively on yesterday's edition of Democracy Now, which you
can access at this
page. Much of what I have to say here is based, fact-wise,
on DN's interview with Brandeis University's Jytte Klausen.
There are two basic
issues here: 1) Is violence a justified response to the inherently
racist, inherently idiotic, apparently intentionally provocative
cartoons first published by Denmark's Jyllands-Posten and later
picked up by other European papers? and 2) Is the publication of
these cartoons rightly protected by freedom of speech? You don't
need me to tell you the answer to question 1 is no, no, no. As for
number 2, from my perch here in Paris, the answer is also no. The
publication and subsequent dissemination of these cartoons in Europe
occurs in the context of an anglo-Europe that is, in some sectors,
anyway, Euro-Arab phobic. Yes there are laws protecting freedom
of speech here, but there are also laws against racist speech, and
it's into this category that these cartoons clearly fall. Never
mind that the editor of Jyllands-Posten is persisting in running
out the freedom of speech canard, reportedly promising to reprint
any Holocaust cartoons an Iranian newspaper comes up with.