I spoke last week about how Digital Dance Project believes that we can leverage technology to make dance more sustainable.
The truth is, technology can help us do more than that: technology can help dance travel to new places. In times of crisis and rebirth, dance can speak to complex emotions that are difficult to put into words. By moving beyond traditional spaces, dance can find where it needs to go and the people it needs to reach.
Where might that take us?
But First: An Important Message from DDP
The events of the last week have been chaotic and heartbreaking, serving as a reminder of the terrible toll that racism and intolerance have taken on our nation’s Black communities. It would be inconceivable to not acknowledge the losses our nation has faced this week, and we at Digital Dance Project stand with those fighting racial injustice and inequality.
Every Monday, a DDP team member will be teaching a donation-based dance class to benefit anti-racism organizations. Our director, Marinna Kus, is teaching Intermediate/Advanced barre on Monday, June 8th. All donations will go to the George Floyd Memorial Fund. Visit us on Facebook or Instagram to learn more.
“Speaking up is essential, but speaking up without taking tangible action reveals insincerity. That’s why our new Ballet with Benefits effort is so important. It’s the visible outgrowth of what we believe as an organization. It’s our first step toward being part of the solution.”Marinna Kus, DDP co-founder and director
How have our traditional spaces been limiting?
In many respects, concert dance as we know it has had limited accessibility for those not part of a certain cultural elite.
Think of high-brow ballets with unfamiliar stories, like Raymonda, where meaning is obscured in a physical language–pantomime–that new audience members aren’t fluent in.
Think of the most experimental, avant-garde modern works, which can be aggressively incomprehensible in order to reject attempts at meaning.
Think even of Broadway musicals, where ticket prices in the triple digits can make financial access difficult.
Whether because of culture, meaning, or money, our art form can feel isolated from the rest of the world. Although contemporary dance works have been known to make political statements, dance often feels frozen in its own time and place.
In these cases, the proscenium stage that is so familiar to us as artists serves as a pane of glass which divides Out There from In Here, unintentionally separating our human reactions to the tumultuous events of the world from the artistic messages we can share on stage. Although the traditional theater setting is what many of us are most familiar with, there are so many more places where we can share meaning through dance.
Where can we take dance today?
If you could put dance in your pocket, where would it take you? Where would you want it to go? COVID-19 blanketed the earth with the kind of long slumber that Sleeping Beauty felt, sending dancers to one place: home. This reminded us that dance is still dance outside of the theater, and that it still has fresh things to say. As many regions around the world begin to reopen, we get to ask where else dance can go.
Taking dance to places outside of traditional theaters gives us more options. More places to visit, more voices to amplify, and more stories to share.
Now more than ever, we at Digital Dance Project want to use our platform to represent the diverse voices of the dance community.
Perhaps our co-founder and operations manager, Rachel Seeholzer, says it best:
“Dance is a language we use to express the feelings that we sometimes cannot put into words. The suppressed people of this country and of this world have lost their voice and are in need of getting it back. Why not give them this opportunity to have another voice on another platform? Why not use what we have for the good of equality and humanity? Let the arts be your voice. Let us represent you.”-Rachel Seeholzer, DDP co-founder and operations manager
Where do you want to go?
We know that there are big concerns in the world and that the actions of a grass-roots dance organization have a microscopic influence.
We recognize, however, that the small actions of many can add up to a bigger, richer picture for everyone.
As the world reopens, the dance community has the opportunity to make meaningful stories easily accessible. By delivering dance out of the proscenium and into the world, we can be part of something good.
To help us get there, we are seeking diverse, action-minded artists to lend their voices to upcoming projects.
We believe that representation matters, and we want to hear from you.