BWW Dance: Looking Forward to 2013
Dance, Ballet, Modern Dance, 2012, 2013
As I am the so-called new kid on the block and just starting to build a team, it's nice to take a few seconds and reflect on what has passed before my eyes, brain and memory during 2012 and my expectations for 2013.
What I would like to see in the coming year is the creation of new dance works that will take a place on the universal choreographic stage. I don't mean a novelty created for one season that disappears quickly into the annals of dance books. I want a creation that spans the decades. Perhaps because I am somewhat more attuned to the world of ballet I am more sensitive to the desires of ballet lovers, who run the spectrum from the modest and demure to the flashy and outrageous. I like the latter as much as anyone. Who doesn't want to have fun when attending a performance and yell bravo at the end until it seems that the entire theatre is shaking, if not ready to collapse?
But when I consider those universal works and the ones of which I'd like to see more, my thoughts go immediately to George Balanchine's Serenade, a piece that has been with us for almost 80 years. It is always being staged around the world for the simple reason that it unlocks the truths we associate with dance: music, grace, mystery, abandonment and even love. Everyone says that Balanchine ballets lack emotion, they are cold, sparse. But take a quick look at Serenade. What are those three women and man doing together after he is led to center stage with his eyes covered? What does it symbolize? A foursome, a lovers 'argument, a night out with beloved friends? You can make up a story; one can take it as simply the presentation of four dancers doing what they do best, dance! And yet it continues to baffle us. What is behind all this? And that is what I think is missing in present day dance and what it needs: more mystery, more depth and the need to alter our perceptions according to movement, mood and music. More often than not we think dance is about bodies going at each other, lots of jumping, scrambling, hopping-but what does it signify Perhaps 2013 will introduce us to a spate of new pieces that can provide answers.
There are still those who continue to say Serenade means nothing. Ask a teenager who has just seen the work. But to those familiar with the music, who have lived with the many casts over the years, have taken the work home with them in their minds, know what it means: a great work that can signify anything you want. Describe a number of other works like that? Perhaps there will be some waiting for us in 2013.
Dance education is another concern of mine. There is so much outreach, yet when it comes down to nuts and bolts, many young people can't afford the price of a ticket. Companies do offer price reductions and there is always TDF and TKTS, but still we have a very limited public. When I go to many dance performances, whether it is ballet or modern dance, I see a dearth of young people. Where are those young people who once thronged to New York City Ballet ABT, Martha Graham, Paul Taylor and about 50 other companies you can name? While some call this the "graying of America," it is only too true. What is going to happen when those once enthusiastic dance goers have left us? Who is going to replace them? Companies are always looking for new ways to bring in audiences and, to my way of thinking, could be standing on their heads and whistling "God Bless America." It's not going to help. If you want a new audience you must have the funding that allows people to go; without that funding it's easier to rent a DVD and watch a performance at home. It's not the same as a live performance, but with those ticket prices, overheated theaters, train commutes, a great many people have decided to opt out. I mean you can stop the DVD and go to the bathroom without disturbing the person next to you. The same is true now for opera. You can see at least 10 productions of Le Nozze di Figaro. And from New York, Los Angeles, London, Paris and Berlin, no less!