“In the Beginning, It Is Always Dark”

…And I say this because I want to do a thing, and I’m completely in the dark about how to make it happen.

On numerous occasions, I’m sure, I’ve kvetched about the lack of performance opportunities for adult dance students around here. Likewise, I’ve kvetched about the relative lack of body diversity in dance.

After class on Saturday, I mentioned to B. that I’d like to put together a performance for local adult dance students — and that, ideally, I’d really like to see that performance reflect the diversity of body types and abilities out there.

B. said, “Oh, you know, this could be a great fundraiser!”

I think that’s a great idea — to create not just a chance for adult dance students to perform, but a chance for us to work together to do something for the community at large.

Later, I thought, Wouldn’t it be cool to use that performance to raise funds for either for an organization that harnesses the power of dance in a therapeutic way, or for an organization that works to help people with disabilities gain access to dance classes (or maybe even to the arts in general)?

…And thus was the germ of an idea born.

When I asked him if we had any existing organizations that do that kind of thing around here, Denis pointed out that Metro Parks Louisville has an Adapted Leisure program that both offers recreational opportunities (including social dancing) for people with disabilities and that helps make Metro Parks’ other recreation and leisure activities accessible.

That seems like a great place to start.

Beyond that, though, I have absolutely no idea how to proceed.

Hence the quote above: I’m sure it’s a line that’s cropped up in a bazillion places, but I always remember as spoken by The Childlike Empress in the film version of The Neverending Story, which I probably watched 14,000,000 times as a little kid (and, for that matter, as a not-so-little kid: yes, I have totally been guilty of feeling my bike sink into swampy terrain during a gravel race and shouting, “ARRRRRRRRRTAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAX!”).

So, basically, yeah. Thinking about this again, today, I realized that everyone begins by having no idea how to do things — and they manage to make it happen anyway.

And, yet, things happen. Wheels get invented (and re-invented); people organize events; history rolls forward.

A year ago, I didn’t know how to do a lot of the stuff I know how to do now. What I did know is that, when something looks difficult, the best thing to do is just try it anyway (hello, promenade en dehors in écarté devant; hello, remembering long combinations; hello temps de fleche — okay, don’t really entirely have that one down yet, because coordination, but it’s coming).

When you attempt something difficult and fail at first, you’re still closer to having it down than you are if you just don’t try.

So, anyway, in recognition of that vision of harnessing the potential of every kind of body, every kind of person, in dance, I’m kicking around the idea of calling this thing EveryBody’s Dance Theater.

The rest I’ll have to figure out as I go along. It seems like probably a good idea to connect with some local people who have experience doing things like this.

So there you have it.

Yup.

I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing, you guys.

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About asher

Me in a nutshell: Standard uptight ballet boy. Trapeze junkie. Half-baked choreographer. Budding researcher. Transit cyclist. Terrible homemaker. Getting along pretty well with bipolar disorder. Fabulous. Married to a very patient man. Bachelor of Science in Psychology (2015). Proto-foodie, but lazy about it. Cat owner ... or, should I say, cat own-ee? ... dog lover. Equestrian.

Posted on 2015/10/13, in balllet, dance and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.

  1. I love this!!! Weirdly enough, I have just started putting out feelers for a show I had written earlier this year, to try to make it happen (original production plans fell through). Anyway, I’ve been involved in a a thing or two…I may be able to help you sort out some stuff?

    • Oh, cool! I hope your production will get off the ground and soar.

      I would love to hear any thoughts you have on this sort of thing. Would it be helpful if I put together a couple of specific questions, so it wasn’t just like, “Tell me absolutely everything you know” … ? (Don’t know if this happens to you, but that sort of request always makes me feel completely tongue-tied.)

      • Yeah, specific questions would be great. Or if you’re just trying to figure out first steps, you can just say that too!

      • Hrm. I am definitely trying to figure out first steps!

        One good question I can think of, though, is, “Besides hitting up everyone I know from ballet class, what is a good way to find dancers in the community who might be interested in participating?”

        I guess I’d probably need to have a sense of when and where the performance will take place first, of course. There, I actually have some ideas 😀

      • Yes, definitely hit up everyone you know! Social media is also really good for this (book of face), as people share that kind of thing to others who think they would be interested. Make a flyer or card for your dance studio if they have any sort of announcement board, and go to other dance studios and ask if you can leave some with them.

        I would say major logistic components:

        The show itself: Work as much as you can to clarify your vision of what this performance will be content wise (write, draw, talk to people).

        Cast: discussed above

        Crew: lighting, sound (venue provided, or do you need to find someone? students can be good for this…we always try to pay tech).

        Venue: you said you have ideas, so that’s a good start!

        Rehearsal space and schedule…you can get creative with this. My last show we rehearsed a lot in a local park, and many friends in our community donated use of their space to us. Check with your studio to see if they would let you use the space, or do a cheap rental.

        Production design: sets, costumes, props?

        Once you have that stuff figured out, you can think about BUDGET and…

        Funding: Do you want to crowdsource some funds for seed money? What can you get donated? Ticket sales, venue door split, etc.

        When you have some idea of who is interested and some idea of answers to these questions, definitely call a production meeting to share your vision and discuss logistics.

        Later down the line, promotion will be important, and you can also think about things like professional documentation (for you and your performers).

        Does that help? Ask any followup questions!

      • OMG, this is awesome! We have an announcement board at my studio, so I’ll check with them about that. Excellent point about lighting and stuff — I’m just down the street from a couple of universities and a performing arts magnet, and just graduated in May, so I will definitely check into working with students.

        I also love the idea of using drawings as part of the conteng-clarifying process! I’ve been doing that with choreography, and it helps immensely.
        I love all these ideas — one of the potential performance venues is in a local park with a great amphitheater, so it would be neat to see about using that space for at least a couple of rehearsals.

        Also, I hadn’t even thought about professional documentation — that sounds important 😀

        I shall meditate upon follow-up questions … I’m sure they’ll arise!

        Thank you so much! This has been so much help already.

    • Documentation is pretty easy. A lot of photographers want to shoot this kind of thing for their portfolio, and photography is a pretty common hobby nowadays…(we got a bunch of great photos in our last show just from comping photographer friends). It is a nice to be able to give your performers documentation as a thank you for their participation!

      It’s best if you can have the space for at least two rehearsals before the show. One for a tech rehearsal (with the lighting and sound people); this can be a mark through / just blocking with tech. And another for a full run through, preferably a full dress rehearsal.

      Oh lastly, just a random tip. I’ve found that it’s super helpful to record rehearsals, even just on your iPhone. That way you can review it and always have notes for the next rehearsal. Also when you’re putting together choreography, there’s no argument about did we do it this way or that way! Don’t know if you do this already 🙂

      I’ll be checking in on here for any further discussion, but you can always leave a comment on my blog if I don’t answer something.

  2. Oh also, if you haven’t seen it, Trash Dance is a great documentary about a choreographer organizing a community of atypical dancers…”Allison Orr found inspiration in the movement of garbage trucks and graceful dynamics of the workers who operate them.”

    • OMG! Denis found Trash Dance on TV somewhere, recorded it for me … and I *loooooved* it! I thought the garbage truck ballet was beautiful — and that it says so much about how readily the limitations imposed by our minds can be transcended through imagination and creativity.

  3. Maybe this will give you a few ideas.

    The Australian state of Victoria has a great tradition of involving disabled people in the performing arts. Back to Back Theatre killed them at the Edinburgh Festival.

  4. I love this idea! As a dancer….

  5. Plan what you want the performance to entail (not the minutiae of choreography necessarily, but themes, where you want to hold it, what your message will be). Decide whether this needs to be a paid gig for the dancers and any musicians involved – in which case you may need to approach potential sponsors, if nothing else, to cover the cost of the venue. Will you need costumes, props or scenery? Do you want to involve a designer? How ambitious will this be? Do you plan to sell tickets to the public, if so, you may need a licence and/or to check that the venue is licensed for this. What are the transport links like, who is your target audience, how can you let them know the performance is happening and where they can buy tickets/donate to support it? Get a piece of paper (even the back of an envelope) and think for a little while exactly what you want to achieve. Perhaps consider kickstarter or another grass-roots initiative for funding. I’m taking a bit of a scatter-gun approach to planning here, but you get the general idea.

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