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Flash Response, 4-10: The ADF Controversy
Charles's Bottom Line: Is it or is it not Good Work?

A Letter from Mark Dendy
Copyright 2002 Mark Dendy

(Editor's note: The following is a response to Paul Ben-Itzak's Flash View, 3-12. Mark Dendy is a leading choreographer whose work has been seen on his own company, Mark Dendy Dance and Theater, off-Broadway, and on numerous ballet companies around the world. He has also written for the Dance Insider.)

Paul,

I send this to you out of the deep respect I have for you and your work. While I appreciate your opinions and vigilance on the front of maintaining excellence in the art form, I am compelled to speak to the misguided assumption that booking Ariane Reinhart at the American Dance Festival is nothing more than flagrant nepotism.

Ms. Reinhart is a gifted young artist. As a child she played under the trees on the lawn at ADF, utterly consumed by what we were doing. She watched, she listened, she learned and this gauged the development of the fine talent she has become and continues to grow into. She learned with a voracity that I have rarely seen, waiting for the moment when she might jump into the fire with the rest of the hard working performers that made up her environment. Her parents were far from stage parents. Often in situations when they where confronted with her enthusiasm for dancing you could see a look on their face that seemed to ask "what have we done?" At the most they seemed reticent to encourage her dance career (perhaps out of concern for the very issues you raise); she however was clearly bitten by the performing bug. As soon as she was of an appropriate age she enrolled as a student at ADF just as Donna Faye Burchfield (currant serving as Dean of this formidable institution), David Dorfman, Ann Carlson, Richard Move and I had before her. She studied hard alongside every other student in attendance. Furthermore, she worked in the administrative office with more anonymous students in order to supplement her tuition. Eventually all of her hard work paid off and she was cast in concerts produced by internationally renowned artists, and occasionally was cast as the principal performer, not because of her name but on the merit of her beautiful voice and accomplished dancing.

Unfortunately for me, scheduling conflicts have kept me from setting a piece on this emerging talent, for I would surely have been honored to have a work shown by this now controversial artist in the concert you are now protesting.

Charles and Stephanie Reinhart have proven themselves to be tireless champions of new, enervated, established and classic art alike. Charles naturally wishes for shows to fill the auditorium, but his bottom line has always been indefatigable -- Is it or is it not good work? At first glance it may very well appear that there are other artists of repute that have difficulty getting their proverbial foot in the door. ADF has, however, always been a home that fosters young talent with an understanding of the extended process that all great Art requires. Ariane Reinhart has more than proven herself worthy of any and all benefits that should come to a dancer dedicated to the institution from the age of fourteen.

Finally, I call on the dance community not to punish a blossoming artist because she has a family name known to us all as one of the principal forces of our tumultuous field. Young Ms. Reinhart has, more than many artists, shown her integrity, talent, and initiative to work and develop an independently defined carrier that does not turn its back on her history but rather upholds and proliferates a glorious tradition of dance.

With respect and concern,

Mark Dendy

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