The Buzz, 3-20: Cry,
the Beloved Country
Rogues in the White House; Bad Behavior at APAP; How Artists Can
Save the Soul of the U.S.
"I believe in this beautiful
country.... But, today I weep for my country.... No more is the
image of America one of strong, yet benevolent peacekeeper.... Around
the globe, our friends mistrust us, our word is disputed, our intentions
are questioned.... Instead of reasoning with those with whom we
disagree, we demand obedience or threaten recrimination. Instead
of isolating Saddam Hussein, we seem to have isolated ourselves....
We say that the United States has the right to turn its firepower
on any corner of the globe which might be suspect in the war on
terrorism. We assert that right without the sanction of any international
body. As a result, the world has become a much more dangerous place....
Why can this president not seem to see that America's true power
lies not in its will to intimidate, but in its ability to inspire?"
--Senator Robert C.
Byrd, Democrat of West Virginia and Dean of the United States Senate,
Address to the US Senate, March
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2003 The Dance Insider
PARIS -- This morning,
in violation of international law and in contemptuous defiance of
the United Nations and most of the world, President George Bush
launched an unprovoked attack on a sovereign nation, with the intent
of overthrowing its government. Unable to rig the vote in the UN
Security Council as he rigged the Florida elections, Mr. Bush has
marshalled the bodies of hundreds of thousands of young Americans
and Britons for a personal vendetta and holy crusade which, far
from making the U.S. more secure, will only only fertilize the volatile
terrain of the Middle East and risk producing more Mohammed Attas.
The consequences of Mr. Bush's action are more appropriately addressed
elsewhere. I'd like to address here the impact on the
dance and arts world.
The existential concerns
of Mr. Bush's war are the thousands of Iraqi and American lives
it puts at risk. But there's another concern in the example set
by Mr. Bush's credo: Might makes right; I'll do what I want to do
and I won't listen to anyone who contradicts me; money (or oil)
is the most important thing.
Last Friday, we reported
the previous Friday's firing of six employees by Arts Presenters and its
director, Sandra Gibson. (Who, by the way, has not responded to
Dance Insider inquiries about her own future at APAP.)
Earlier this week, as
I discussed the APAP situation with another dance insider, the management
re-envisioning of APAP began to look like the Republicanization
of APAP. We have a president who does not listen to protests; the
same goes for APAP. The back room business deal is glorified in
this country now; the same is true for APAP. The corporate nature
of the arts as a business has come to the front now. The arts should
not be about 'best-practices' or 'realignment of staff,' but they
are now at APAP. Arts Presenters could become an organization of
lag-bolt salesmen now -- it really doesn't make a difference: Performing
Arts... hardware... pencils... those little pieces of tape on the
end of shoelaces -- the present APAP management, this dance insider
pointed out, has now brought the level of the arts to that of any
business out there. But what the APAP members -- including the theaters
that present dance -- are 'selling' is not the same as lag bolts.
Sure, lag bolts keep your car from flying apart when you drive,
but without the difference that the arts make in people's lives,
maybe cars flying apart isn't such a bad thing. We choose to work
in the arts, not because of the fabulous money, and chance for advancement
up the corporate ladder, but because they are different. Ms. Gibson,
APAP vice president Kim Chan and the rest of the new management
-- how many vice presidents was that at last count? -- are re-envisioning
the soul out of the last soulful thing out there.
To send an e-mail to
APAP president Sandra Gibson, please click here. To send an e-mail to
APAP vice president Kim Chan, please click here.
Speaking of soul: In
New York, attendance at theaters is down, with audiences -- and
perhaps artists -- finding it hard to get motivated for a dance
concert when the world is on fire, helicopters hover over Brooklyn,
and AK47-wielding soldiers (with the best of motives) guard Times
Square. To those artists, I have this advice: It's easy to succumb
to a feeling of impotence in the face of what is now being perpetrated
in our name, and fear over what may be perpetrated on us as afterwards.
But you do have Power -- and authority -- in at least one respect.
With your art, you create an alternate vision of the soul of the
U.S. to the one found at the business end of a rifle. You use your
body not to intimidate others, but to inspire them. Remember: The
opposite of war is creation.