As a writer, perhaps it is a crime not to have a full understanding of “blogs” and “blogging”; not to fully participate in its function as a disseminator of information both personal and informational. Blogs are a part of an ever-deepening pool of ‘new media’, and dance, like the rest of the world, is quickly diving in.
To learn about dance locally, one can look at the constantly expanding number of local dance blogs. By my last count there are at least 14 local dance blogs. A dance blog – by definition – is a blog that is dedicated to the discussion of dance. As with all blogs, the division between the human and the professional – the dancer and the dance – is frequently thin.
According to blogworldexpo.com, which claims to be the “first and only industry-wide tradeshow, conference, and media event dedicated to promoting the dynamic industry of blogging and new media”, more than 57 million Americans read blogs; 12 million American adults sustain a blog; nine percent of internet users claim to have created a blog; and over 120 thousand new blogs are created daily. The growth of dance blogging in DC is an expression of a national trend.
The first step of my virtual journey through DC dance took me to the aptly titled, “DCDanceBlog”, an amalgam of opinions, information on upcoming events and reviews of local dance companies. Created and maintained by local dance enthusiasts Amanda Abrams and Lotta Lundgren, the dc dance blog ideally functions as a “place in this city where more subtle, and maybe more experimental, ideas about dance could be aired”. Interestingly, and perhaps because the site is temporarily “in hibernation”, I found more insight into the larger dance world – both virtual and real – through posted links that transformed me into an audience member of “SMOKE”, choreographed by Mats Ek and performed by Sylvie Guillem and Niklas Ek (and yes I agree that modern dancers need ballet technique) and transported me out of DC into Minneapolis, Minnesota, specifically to Zenon Dance Company and Walker Art Center. The site does pose that ever-present question of all questions, “if you are trying to make it as some kind of artist, how do you do it?” Great question.
One answer came on another dance blog: the blog of Daniel Burkholder. A dancer, choreographer and improviser, Burkholder is co-director of Improv Arts, Inc. and director of The PlayGround, an improvisation-based dance ensemble. He is also in the business of commissions; his work has been supported and presented by The John. F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, CrossCurrents Dance Company, Montgomery College and Dance Place. Burkholder’s blog reflects his experiences as both artist and teacher. It is informative, giving teachers ideas on how to build a class; inclusive, posting his dancers reflections on their performance experiences; and insightful, citing “doing one thing” as a potential improv exercise. He does exactly that in his blog: he cultivates a clear, unified picture of a successful DC dance artist and allows the blogger to participate in his unique world. The truth is, in this business – in DC and anywhere – dancers really must be multi-faceted.
It is always a treat to read good writing, and Lisa Traiger’s, danceviewtimes blog, “D.C. DanceWatcher” is the real thing. Traiger’s blog quenches the thirst for a good read and gives insight into the history of DC’s dance tradition. Traiger’s entries dive into the DC dance scene, including reviews of local groups and other potpourri, like “What’s Wrong with Modern Dance?” For the dance student, dance writer or dance history enthusiast, Traiger’s “D.C. DanceWatcher” blog exposes current dance trends in the Metropolitan dance community and far beyond. Her links are also good: a quick click connects you to other danceviewtimes blogs (George Jackson, Alexandra Tomalonis and Paul Parish, among others), and to online dance journals (ArtsJournal, Article 19, and the Village Voice dance page are especially worth checking out.)
Liz Lerman Dance Exchange Artistic Director Peter DiMuro’s blog sums up the initiatives of DC dance blogs, I think, when it states its mission:
“This blog is an experimental initiative to explore new and different ways to share, communicate and collaborate with audiences prior to, during and after performances…”
In some form or another, each of the blogs I explored aimed at communication. Whether through words or video, or by airing frustrations or sharing positive experiences, DC dance artists seem to be honing their voices for audiences prior to, during and after performances they participated in, attended or heard of.
I don’t think then it is really a question of how Washington, DC blogs compare to the rest of the nation’s – as it stands, the Metropolitan area’s blogs demonstrate their capability of reaching those national connections; rather, I think the import lies with the local connections. It becomes a mission of not only reaching those 57-million-plus Americans through dynamic, colorful words, but getting them in the seats. Perhaps that is the next step for these blogs – really going to the source. Communication is after all a two-way street.
Ms. Yezek received her MA in English Literature and Language from Oxford University in 2006, where she researched the figure of the music hall dancing girl in the short stories of fin-de-siècle author, George Egerton. She continues to explore the milieu between dance and language as a contributing writer for Dancer Magazine. While abroad, she worked with Argentine choreographer, Florencia Lopez-Boo and helped to found Oxford’s contemporary dance ensemble, Freefall, performing and presenting choreography with both in Oxford, Cambridge and London. Her own choreography has been commissioned and presented by Oxford University, Cambridge University, Bucknell University, BosmaDance, Dragonfly Dance Experiment, and Dance Place. She made her New York City debut July 2007 with obKNOXious dance and was happily surprised to be a 2008 “So You Think You Can Dance?” DC finalist. Ms. Yezek is certified in BASI Pilates and her teaching credits include American University, thewashingtonballet@THEARC, Liz Lerman Dance Exchange, Sitar Arts Center, and Trinity University.