What I am learning from the youngsters ...and ( why that E word is over-rated)
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or rendering the invisible, visible.
What I am learning from the Youngsters about Being Entrepreneurial (and why that E word is over-rated )
By Christine Jowers, editor of The Dance Enthusiast
Dance NYC's Intrepid Junior Committee: the good news and the bad news.
|Design by Marissa Sher for The Dance Enthusiast
One of the highlights of Dance/NYC’s State of Dance Symposium this past February, was the presentation of The Dance Workforce Census
a survey created and implemented by Dance/NYC's Junior Committee. This group of can-do volunteers, ages 21-35, lends time and energy to projects that benefit the health of the dance. While their census (of dancers ages 21-35) reveals the presence of a zesty entrepreneurial spirit and a wealth of creativity, it also starkly underscores the extent to which the younger generation is impoverished - the most stunning figure from the report being the $28,000.00 per year that young dancers live on; income derived mostly from non-dance jobs (on average four or five part-time positions, held at the same time and without benefits.)
Phew. That's a depressing mouthful.
We always knew that a career in dance or the dance related fields wouldn't lead to financial fortune, but to see the recent data illustrated with pie charts, numbers and graphs alerts us to the gravity of the economics. The pictures provided here are invaluable because they render the invisible visible.
Only when we can see our assets and our handicaps clearly in front of us it is easier to problem-solve and to ask for help from people who can provide it. We can't go on this journey alone and entrepreneurship is not enough. Look up the word entrepreneur. It means someone who starts a business alone. Being alone is overrated.
|Clare Cook and Her Team of Dancers prepare "Show Me Real"
MEET CLARE:A Day in the Life of a Young, New York Dancer.
Clare Cook is not only a member of the intrepid Junior Committee of Dance/NYC; she is also one of the dancers who took part in the workforce census. Her daily schedule gives us a snapshot of what one has to do to dance in New York today and it’s a dizzying ride, literally. (You will see what I mean when you check out the video
) Cook will be performing this weekend let’s support her.
What Is There Left to Sacrifice?
In our dance world, especially in our dance writing and communication world, we need to realize where individual excellence lies and work to build bridges to unite our assets with the best qualities of others.
Either we build strong bridges or we drown.
When I was a younger dancer working as a waitress in New York, I felt that it was possible to "go it alone" and in fact that was encouraged. Being a great artist at all costs was the message. Work hard. Be disciplined. And sacrifice. If you persevere you can do anything. Today, thankfully, sacrifice and isolation are not the encouraged message. While I am thankful to have learned to persevere and be responsible, that is also not enough. And, by the way, what is there left to sacrifice?
Today responsibility requires teamwork. To be responsible in our dance world, especially in our dance writing and communication world, we need to realize where individual excellence lies and work to build bridges to unite our assets with the best qualities of others. Either we build strong bridges or we drown.
There is tremendous pressure from our field to build those bridges NOW, but any building endeavor takes time and support. One can't just wake up and be a master architect. The problem is individuals are needed to be everything all at once (entrepreneur and team leader, banker, accountant and social media expert) and the pressure can make us run in ever-faster circles or freeze.
How can we start? I have no brilliant entrepreneurial answers- only the old stand by - one step at a time, (preferably with feeling.) Ask for help. Help someone else. We can start by working on developing our socializing muscles, joining dance organizations, attending a meeting or two, commenting on someone’s writing on Facebook. Pressing a like button on a social media site requires no effort and is so helpful.
Click here for news on Dance Advocacy from Lane Harwell, the director Dance/NYC.
How can writers work with dancers, presenting institutions ,and the like, for our mutual success and excellence?
How can we all get paid what we are worth?
My younger counterparts introduce me to new ideas, ways to pool our tremendous assets in order to create positive situations. Brittany Beyer, dancer with Equus Projects, Associate Editor at The Dance Enthusiast, and owner of her own arts consultancy firm, Hypatia Artists Services (that's three jobs) constantly inspires me with her thoughts on dance and government (she’s also holds an MA in Art and Politics from NYU).
I am moved to work with young contributors who not only dance but want to give voice to dance, or as Raja Feather Kelly, one of our newest TDE writers - and a very busy dancer trotting about the globe to perform with David Dorfman, Zoe I Juniper and Reggie Wilson (that is 4 jobs and I know there are more) - tells me, "Christine, we are historicizing."
"Historicizing," keeping account of our stories, is another important way of collecting data or rendering the invisible visible. Dance is valuable and needs to be recorded. Writing and other forms of media communication are crucial to the sustenance of our dance world. How can writers work with dancers, presenting institutions and the like, for our mutual success and excellence? How can we all get paid what we are worth?
The Collective for Dance Writing and New Media was founded by Eva Yaa Asantewaa ( Cory Nakasue, associate editor at The Dance Enthusiast, is on its’ executive committee) The possiblities this collective presents for writers and team-building are exciting. The Dance Enthusiast is looking forward to creating community events with CDWNM under the title of #danceideas. (Yes, that means we want to bring more dance discussion into the twit-o-sphere and it is about time.)
New Conversations ? Yes. And there is "art" in P"ART"ICIPATE .
Do we want to grow the dance world, or do we want to keep it safe for a highly educated (and impoverished) elite to enjoy?
In addition to keeping account of our stories, new ways of communicating and new conversations are vital. Critiques, reviews and academic thought shouldn’t stand as the only respected communication about dance. Dance writing needs variety and broadening. Good conversations include a breadth of topics and viewpoints. Can dance writing be entertaining, or light or creative? Of course. Is that valid? Of course. Do we want to grow the dance world, or do we want to keep it safe for an highly educated (and impoverished ) elite to enjoy?
At The Dance Enthusiast, where we are dedicated to exploring new ways of communicating about dance, we ask, “What about the audience's voice?" We encourage audiences to share their opinions about what they see - User Reviews - and let me be clear, we ask questions of audiences that are geared toward eliminating snark and promoting the growth of thoughtful, articulate theater goers who can advocate for our art. ( Our policy is to delete snarky reviews and,by the way, haven't gotten any yet.)
The Dance Enthusiast is building a bridge. We are working. We are developing. We are learning. If we can build thoughtful audience communication on a site devoted to ALL the theaters and ALL the dancers and ALL the audiences, change for the better can happen. Imagine the interesting educational events we can create around audience discussion and questions. Imagine the new writers and advocates and thinkers we can encourage. Imagine the global reach of the internet and the helpful data we can collect for our field. Imagine what is invisible being rendered visible.
We are enthusiastic and entrepreneurial (which is why we can imagine and initiate) but that is simply not enough. Now it’s time for some teamwork. ( Ahem, that means your turn.)
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