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Flash Letter, 8-15: Welcome to the Dance World, Ms. Miller
DTW Will Promote a Boycott of New York Magazine

By David White
Executive Director and Producer, Dance Theater Workshop

(Editor's Introduction: Since we reported New York magazine's decision to can dance criticism and dance critic Tobi Tobias, the letters to New York editor Caroline Miller have been pouring in. They come from dancers, university professors, union heads and others, from all over the world. They mark a departure in tone from much of the dance community's response to previous crises: you are not whining, and you are not asking for pity for poor impoverished Dance. You are speaking from a position accurately characterized as STRENGTH. More than ever before, the artist and presenter side of Dance is rallying for the critical side, realizing that in this case, their interests are one. And you are not settling for mere complaining, but are prepared to act.

In his letter recently sent to Ms. Miller (see below), David White enunciates where that strength comes from -- and how it can be used to fight back and show New York magazine that we won't take this sitting down. If anything has become clear in this crisis, it is that if Ms. Miller thought that by cutting dance she was singling out New York's weakest cultural constituency, she grossly miscalculated. Having said that, it always takes courage for a presenter to speak truth to media power -- and props to David White, the executive director and producer of Dance Theater Workshop, for doing so. His letter, as clear and detailed a thumbnail of the NYC dance community's strength as any in recent memory, follows. To send your own letter to Caroline Miller, please click here.

And look for Tobi Tobias's new column, Vignettes, on The Dance Insider Online, beginning August 23.)

Ms. Miller,

As the Executive Director and Producer of New York's Dance Theater Workshop since 1975, I am thunderstruck by your stunningly obtuse statement that the dance-literate audience of New York (here I include the New York claimed by both resident and avocational New Yorkers alike) is tanking. That such a patently untested assumption frosts the rationale for the dismissal of Tobi Tobias, and of dance criticism, from the pages of New York magazine is equally unacceptable and offensive.

I cannot address New York magazine's financial and advertising problems, but even in this city's difficult times, the New York dance community has never been more populous or deeper in talent. Nor have their audiences been more diverse or enthusiastic. Some 400 dance companies occupy the city' s cultural food chain, multiplied by their dancers, other artistic colleagues, friends, lovers, students, school programs, community constituencies, not to mention the general public, throughout the five boroughs -- with 90% of that number active in Manhattan alone. In what has been a boom-then-bust period, more theaters for dance have nonetheless opened in Manhattan, Brooklyn and the Bronx -- the Duke and the New Victory on 42nd Street, Mark Morris's studios in Fort Green, WAX and Galapagos in Williamsburg, Arthur Aviles's BAAD in Hunt's Point. And let's not forget relatively recent veterans such as the Joyce and Joyce/Soho, the BAM Harvey/651 Arts Center, and Aaron Davis Hall, or PS 122, Danspace Project and Dixon Place among numerous others.

And lest I forget my own day job, Dance Theater Workshop is just now completing a $9 million state-of-the-art, theater, studio and media complex (DTW's Doris Duke Performance Center) in Chelsea that is on-target to open to the public on September 25 of this year -- despite the aftermath of 9/11 and a recessionary economy. Who exactly do you think makes this kind of bricks-and-mortar project possible, as well as its entire not-for-profit mission of nurturing artists and deeply engaging them in the city's community life, if notthe individuals who make up our long-standing audience and who put their contributions where their hearts are? Do you somehow imagine them not to be readers of your magazine? Not to pay attention to Tobi Tobias's column, and to want more of it as an essential component of a publication that purports to represent our city's cultural practices?

Get real -- we can play to the crowd, too. I mean, how hard can it be to undermine a readership of 400-odd thousand? We're just completing a direct mail campaign of 225,000 pieces to people who care about dance and ideas as part of their daily bread. Beginning in September, DTW will publicly promote, among its organizational colleagues and individual audience members across the city, a boycott of New York magazine among both subscribers and newsstand buyers until such time as significant, substantive dance criticism is reinstated at the magazine on an on-going basis. DTW will provide program inserts and other visible advertising in its facility and in its communications, and encourage others to do the same. We are also considering enclosures in all advance sale ticket envelopes.

Welcome to the dance community of New York, Ms. Miller.


David R. White
Executive Director and Producer
Dance Theater Workshop

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