The Buzz, 8-14: Heroes
Move Over, Arnold -- Ammiano Fights for Arts; DTW Lowers Ticket
Prices; Joyce Sells "Nikolais Dance Theatre"; More on Hines
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2003 The Dance Insider
Late last month, at
the initiative of Democratic representatives, California's legislature
slashed arts spending to $1 million per year. (It had been $38 million
just three years ago.) While movie tough guy Arnold Schwarzenegger
has yet to say how
he would solve California's arts funding crisis if he's
elected governor in October, another entertainer, comic and San
Francisco mayoral candidate Tom Ammiano, has called for an amendment
to the city charter which would mandate spending as much as $340
million on arts, library, and sports programs in the public schools
over the next ten years, the San Francisco Chronicle reported
The city's governing
Board of Supervisors, of which Ammiano is a member and the former
president, has long all but disowned the city's school system and
the funding crises which have dogged it since 1978. That's when
California voters passed property tax restrictions which drastically
winnowed the amount of money available to public schools, which
receive most of their money from state rather than municipal funds.
The Board of Supervisors has largely been content to leave the problem
to the city's Board of Education. As the student member of that
board in 1978-79, I recall well that as we rallied to save our schools,
city supervisors were conspicuous by their absence.
Ammiano, a public school
teacher and former member of the Board of Education, would force
the city to finally take responsibility for its children. "Schools
have been more and more at the mercy of a fluctuating economy,"
he told the Chronicle. "It's an important issue to the people of
According to Chronicle
reporter Rachel Gordon, the proposed charter amendment, which would
need to be approved by voters, would mandate the city set aside
$10 million for the school district the first year (it now spends
less than $5 million), increasing to $40 million by the fourth year.
Half the money would be spent on arts, library, and physical education
To read more about how
Ammiano's plan would work, check out the
Speaking of funding, having just erected essentially a new building,
one could hardly blame Dance Theater Workshop for jacking ticket
prices as high as $32 for some events last fall. But the hike took
many in DTW's audience by surprise, and made its concerts unaffordable
for some. The theater tried to address the problem by introducing
a performing arts card, available to all working performing artists,
which provided a 40 percent ticket discount, but this was not enough.
So it's good news that
for its new season, DTW has actually reduced prices, with tickets
dropping from $32 to $25 for engagements billed as "main events,"
and from $27 to $20 for all other shows. Prices drop even further,
to $15 and $12, respectively, for those who purchase at least four
tickets -- whether to one show or to multiple events. The DTW member
discount has been eliminated, but the performing arts card reduction
"Ticket prices were
lowered to encourage ticket sales during these tough economic times,"
explains Joanna F. Mintzer, DTW's new director of marketing and communications. "Like all performance venues, we want to fill seats during
these challenging times."
If this is the case,
DTW might consider taking two additional steps: First, the performing
arts card only secures a discount for one person. So, if you're
an artist inviting your non-artist friend to see, say, Tere O'Connor's
"Tere Lawn" this October, you'd find yourself paying $15 and asking
your friend to fork over $25. DTW's audience is already one of the
most inbred in town -- or was the last time I checked -- so it seems
that if the theater wants to build its audience, the last thing
it should be doing is segregating non-artists into a higher ticket
bracket. I propose that DTW introduce a "performing arts card for
two," perhaps for an extra fee of $10 or $25, which would entitle
card-bearers to discounted tickets for themselves and a guest. The
second step DTW might consider to fill those seats is to give patrons
more time to reach them, ditching the very un-New York time curtain
of 7 p.m. adapted last year.
The DTW season kicks
off September 3 with Company Felix Ruckert, a joint presentation
with the Joyce. To read more about the season, please click
Speaking of DTW's toney neighbor, the Joyce continues to misrepresent
that an entity called "Nikolais Dance Theatre" is performing on
its stage October 28 - November 2. First, the theater sent out a
press release whose calendar includes "Nikolais Dance Theatre,"
explaining elsewhere that it's actually the Ririe-Woodbury Dance
Company performing the work of the late multi-media dance pioneer,
Alwin Nikolais. A Joyce spokesperson confirmed this, explaining,
"The performance at the Joyce is called 'Nikolais Dance Theatre,'
and mentions of the program should refer to that title. It is a
retrospective of works by Nikolais, which is being performed by
the Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company."
Well, context is everything.
What I'd like to know is why, in a list of the fall season on
its web site in which every name is clearly that of the
company performing (as opposed to the program being performed),
is the Joyce still promising "Nikolais Dance Theatre," with no mention
of "Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company"? As
I wrote last week, the issue is not whether Ririe-Woodbury,
headed by dancers steeped in the work and technique of Nikolais,
can perform the dances. I've talked to some veterans of the REAL
Murray Louis and Nikolais Dance Company, and they're confident that
R-W can do the work proud. The issue is that the company, apparently
abetted by the Joyce, is misleading potential ticket-buyers into
thinking they'll be seeing the Nikolais Dance Theatre (the actual
name of Nikolais's first company), as opposed to a little-known
(by the general public) company from Utah performing the work of
Hines performs in 2001 at the first annual New York City Tap
Festival at the Duke Theater on 42nd Street. Peter Petronio
photo courtesy New York City Tap Festival.
Hines, captured in 2001 at the Duke Theater on 42nd Street,
while performing at the first annual New York City Tap Festival.
Carolina Kroon photo courtesy New York City Tap Festival.
Speaking of dance legends,
we're pleased to share with you two photos of Gregory Hines, who
away Saturday. The photos are provided by Tony Waag of
the New York City Tap Festival, which Hines often graced with his
presence. "The tap world will not be the same without our hero Greg
Hines," says Waag. "He did more for the form than anyone. He was
our ambassador. A great friend, a great mentor, a great performer
and a great man. We will miss him forever." Adds Elizabeth Zimmer,
dance editor of the Village Voice: "Hines was an extraordinary teacher,
too; I had the pleasure of watching him give a lesson to a kid who'd
'won' him in a competition, and it was one of the high points of
my years in Los Angeles."
If you're still missing
Hines, you can find more words on him, from the Voice's Deborah
Jowitt, by clicking