The Hard Thing


Enoch Pratt Free Library photo by jessamyn west via Flickr

A three-year-old girl was killed in Baltimore today. McKenzie Elliott died because she was hit by a stray bullet in a drive-by shooting. 

My acquantices shrug.

Well, it’s a bad neighborhood.

…a stone’s through from Johns Hopkins.

She shouldn’t have been outside in the first place.

On a Friday afternoon? 

I bet her parents aren’t even around.

It’s easy to shrug and lock your doors and say, well, that’s too bad. 

I need to try the hard thing instead.

Cape May Ferry

Cape May Ferry

Performance Review

Detroit Institute of Arts exterior. Photo by calamity_hane via Flickr.

Just for fun, here’s a (limited) roundup of news in the performing arts this week. Did I miss something? Let me know.

Detroit Institute of Arts Collection Valued at $8.5 Billion: New York Firm Victor Wiener Associates conducted the appraisal this time around; it was previously valued at 2.7 billion to $4.6 billion by Artvest Partners. A market value for the collection is needed for the city’s bankruptcy trial, so expect some very highbrow THE PRICE IS RIGHT game-playing happening in Motor City. The DIA is hoping for the price tag to be irrelevant with the approval of the grand bargain, a deal that combines pledges from foundations and the state to pay pensions and keep the collection intact. 

National Medal of Arts and National Humanities Medals Awarded: President Obama presented both medals in a ceremony at the White House on Monday. Recipients included John Kander, Bill T. Jones, Brooklyn Academy of Music and Linda Ronstadt. The official White House schedule shows no karaoke date between Ronstadt and Obama to sing “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” with Kander on piano even though that would be the best thing ever.

Ira Glass Says Shakespeare Sucks then Calls Takes Backsies: THIS AMERICAN LIFE host Ira Glass saw the Public Theatre’s production of KING LEAR and announced he’s not a fan on the Bard’s work. Then, after the rosemary gin fizzes wore off, said, “Oh, that was something tweeted in the spur of the moment. I’m not sure, in the cold light of day, if I even believe it’s true.” Mike Daisy is RILED UP, but I prefer Lois Beckett’s response.

Radical Presence opens at Walker Art Center: Radical Presence: Black Performance in Contemporary Art opened last week in Minneapolis and runs through early January 2015. The show “chronicles the emergence and development of black performance art across three generations, beginning with Fluxus and conceptual art in the early 1960s through present-day practices.” The show is curated by Fionn Meade, his first as Senior Curator of Cross-Disciplinary Platforms. Other performances this season include Ralph Lemon, The Campbell Brothers and Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker (well-known for Rosas danst Rosas, better known for Beyonce stealing the Rosas danst Rosas choreography for the Countdown video). 

Oregon Ballet Theatre Hires Executive Director : Dennis Buehler joins OBT from Milwaukee Ballet, where for the past seven years he was executive director and helped the company stabilize its finances. OBT had its own financial struggles, but closed the fiscal year with a budget surplus. I can’t wait for his guest spot on PORTLANDIA.

An Artistic Boost for Downtown Baltimore: The Baltimore Development Corporation approved a proposal by to turn three abandoned buildings on the 400 Block of N. Howard street into performance venues and co-working spaces for several arts groups, including Annex Theater, EMP Collective, Acme Corporation and Stillpointe Theatre Initiative. The cost of this “theater incubator” is $7 million, which is WAY more than what the 4-H provided when I had my own baby chicks incubator incident that we do not speak of to this day.

Six Dallas Companies Get a Ride Up the ‘Elevator’: The AT&T Performing Arts Center announced “The Elevator Project,” in which six small performing arts companies will perform one show from each of their seasons at one of the Center’s Wyly Theatre spaces. The companies are Upstart ProductionsDanielle Georgiou Dance GroupDallas Actor’s LabSecond Thought TheatreCara Mía Theatre Co. and African American Repertory Theater.

Skinny girl white sangria + fruit from @lordofoverstock + mason jar = a Pinterest-worthy beach cocktail hour.

Skinny girl white sangria + fruit from @lordofoverstock + mason jar = a Pinterest-worthy beach cocktail hour.



Christmas in July!

Christmas in July!





"…I love the dancers and choreographers I’ve worked with so far this summer, but some just aren’t as inclusive as they claim and sometimes I wish they would be publicly upfront about the “type” that they look for. There’s no problem in admitting that certain work demands a particular facility…."

Hey girl! I love your blog. Here are some dances and dancers who have bodies different, for various reasons, than the “existing ideal” (“long limbs, slender, athletic, small head, little to no curves”)

Rennie Harris Puremovement

Hilary Clark (here she is in Tere O’Connor’s “Baby,” full length and excerpts)

Axis Dance Company (here’s a recent work sample). I’m excited about the new dance that Joe Goode will choreograph, “to go again, a dance theater work that brings to light issues facing our nation’s veterans and addresses their resilience following sever life changes.” 

Larry Goldhuber/BIGMANARTS, he danced for for Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company.

Suzanne Richard

Hi there! And thank you, I appreciate it. From what it looks like, I wouldn’t be surprised if we ended up crossing dance world paths at some point. 

Thanks so much for your response and the references, I’m always glad to hear of people and work I should keep on my radar :) It was refreshing to see a variety of dancers featured in the excerpts you shared.

I’ve only seen Rennie’s concert work a couple of times, but I’m definitely keen on what he does. Also-seeing Genome was probably one of my most memorable audience experiences. It was in 2008 and it was the first time I saw DX in performance. I’ll have to look more into Suzanne’s projects.


I was actually meaning to respond to this too, for a few reasons

1.  I thought your original post was insightful and important

2. Your OP coincided with Dance Magazine's annual Body Issue (which is now called the “Better Body Issue,” which I think aligns with their flawed attempts to bring their discussion of dancers' bodies into the current times, but that's beside the point…).

The article I was particularly thinking of was called “Beyond Perfect: A Manifesto” by Sarah Hay.  She says “It wasn’t until I joined the Dresden Semperoper Ballet that I found a place where my uniqueness was viewed as a way into the company… I looked around the room and saw an army of men and women who were all different: shapes and sizes galore… I no longer focus on the problems with my body, so I am free to develop as a dancer.” (p. 41, July 2014)

It’s on the Free Online Library at

See also in that issue: The Bodies that Inspire" (p. 33 by Siobhan Burke)

3. I wanted to point out what sarah-anne did, but more generally.  There are a lot, and I believe it’s an increasing number, of companies out there that have dancers who look like *the rest of us*.  I also think that there are more such companies in the south and west than there are in the northeast US.  However, the old ballet ideal is dying out and is being replaced by a much more athletic (if otherwise not-so-different) one.

4. Diversity has become a MAJOR topic in the dance administration world now, having reached a point of necessity.  It was the theme of the 2013 Dance/USA conference, and it’s been the theme of several other conferences since.  Although Donna Walker-Kuhne's Invitation to the Party is nearly a decade old, it’s been receiving increasing attention, and companies now realize that their dancers need to be easier for ALL community members to relate to, if they want community support.  Some of the biggest dance companies in the country have brought her in to speak to their staff.  Some of those ballet companies have even hired staff whose specific purpose is to recruit students of color.  And what I’m referring to there is separate from Project Plie.

Obviously we have a long way to go, but I see serious efforts emerging.  Although those efforts have been met with a lot of difficulty - big change is hard - I have to find them encouraging.  With time, maybe we’ll get there.


A Caucasian, Latina, pigeon-toed, swaybacked, curvy former ballerina

Great conversation, and more great stuff to put on my reading list.

Sharing Our Stories

"Endings" rehearsal / July 2014 / Rehearsal video batch #6: The Emma Line, "pest", "Rachel faces" from Sarah Levitt on Vimeo.

My friend Sarah Levitt, an MFA candidate at the Ohio State University, is doing an independent study this summer (independent study = making a dance) and blogs about it, using words and videos. I love this.

Making a dance is a bit of a mystery, even for the people who do it. You’re not writing down notes or words, you’re not sculpting anything. The rehearsal room is empty when you arrive, and it’s empty when you leave. You don’t leave with any artifact of what you made with the exception of some new bruises and sweaty clothes. Sarah’s using words and videos to document the dance-making process, including saying, "Each time I watch this section, I think: I love this part. And then I think: why? Because it’s weird…is that an answer?"

Can I say yes? I think that’s an answer. 

Read More

#tbt. This sums everything up quite nicely.

#tbt. This sums everything up quite nicely.

Tags: tbt

Visited Baltimore School for the Arts today

Visited Baltimore School for the Arts today