Wow, what a summer. The world is evolving, shifting, and moving, are you keeping up? If things still feel chaotic, don’t worry. This is what the creative process feels like! I remember one time my mom came to an early rehearsal for an aerial show I was in. After rehearsal, she exclaimed, “Wow, I didn’t realize that’s where you start from!” (Geez, thanks mom.) But I understood what she meant. She usually only sees the polished performance with costumes, makeup, lighting, and the palpable energy of the audience. In this early rehearsal, she saw us in the awkward experimentation phase, where things looked and felt hard. We weren’t yet familiar with the music, we were trying new moves, we spent a bunch of time troubleshooting things like how to navigate the choreography while spinning!
The first stage of the creative process is opening the box and letting all the ideas out. The past few months have been precisely that for Dance Wire. The performing arts world turned upside down, and dancers, companies, studios, and teachers are all trying to troubleshoot what to do next, while (metaphorically) spinning! With all ideas on the table about how we can help, we have begun crafting them further, prioritizing, and taking factors of time and staff energy into account.
It is at this stage that we need YOUR help to get the following items performance-ready! One exciting discovery that came out of our exploration process is some fun new technology that will enable us to build an app for dancers and dance organizations. It is relatively simple to create and maintain, but it will be invaluable for the dance community once it’s developed. The goal of this app is to support connection, collaboration, and visibility for our dance artists and companies during these physically distanced times. Early this summer, we developed a partnership with Teresa Koberstein of Assembly Arts to do one on one financial consulting with companies who run or manage a space. Space is one of the most valuable assets in dance. Already, amid a space crisis in Portland, and with a few companies tragically not making it past the first 6 months of the pandemic, it is critical to keep our spaces alive for everyone – dancers, teachers, students, audiences, independent choreographers – that benefits from them. Social justice – with a particular emphasis on racial justice – is making its way into the collective consciousness on a whole new level this year. What has become more apparent than ever, is that we must work on this as individuals, as businesses, and as industries as a whole to move towards a more equitable future. We are actively working on ways that we, as a hub for Portland dance, can facilitate and keep the conversation going within the dance world. An ongoing photoshoot collaboration with Shabu Studios to develop a photo library of Portland dancers for our website (so we are genuinely representative) and for our THIS is What a Dancer Looks Like campaign. We refuse to abide by old-school stereotypes of what a dancer is “supposed” to look like. We want room to look like our dance-loving selves precisely as they are. You can help us make these things happen by donating. Whether it’s a one-time or monthly donation and whether it’s a significant amount or a small amount, your dollars will have a lasting impact. Dance Wire needs your investment in our work to get out of this awkward stage of creation so we can spin the dance community into a brighter, more inclusive, more welcoming, more diverse, and happy-dance worthy future!
There are many ways to donate: via our website:www.dancewirepdx.org/donate Venmo: @dancewire via ourFacebook fundraiser or support the post office and mail a check to: Dance Wire 3121 S Moody Ave Box 8 Suite 135 Portland, OR 97239
If you self-identify as a dancer, we want YOUR picture to be part of our THIS IS WHAT A DANCER LOOKS LIKE campaign.
WE know, and YOU know that dancers come in all races, ages, genders, body types, and abilities. But stereotypes have convinced much of the population otherwise. Help us show them the truth and obliterate those stereotypes once and for all!
DANCE IS FOR EVERYONE! Your images will be shared (and tagged) on our social media!
1) Send one to three (we will only use one) of your favorite high-quality dance photos to email@example.com
2) Along with the photo write your name as you’d like it to appear on the image as well as the name or studio name of the photographer.
3) Pass this document on to anyone else you’d love to see represented in this campaign!
Our Founder and Executive Director, Emily Running, is an active member of Cohort 1 of the White Arts Leaders Confronting Racism group started as an ally group for Arts Workers for Equity.
This is an invitation to join cohort 2! DEADLINE JULY 15, 2020
About the group This group is a peer-to-peer learning journey. Jenny, our facilitator, will guide us through an arc of learning over the course of six months. The hope is that we build a sense of connection and rapport so that people are able to be vulnerable and real with each other in a “brave space.” This work is deeply personal. It is also interpersonal, organizational and systemic — and we will weave it all.
Focus areas and activities will include: * Facilitated reflection: learning from our personal journeys with racism. * Pattern mapping: what are the trends, systems and stories that we keep running into in this work? * Arts focus: how does racism show up in the arts? How have groups worked with these dynamics? Where do you have leverage to make change? * Deep dives: We will pick two topics to focus on for the six months. We will assign homework to learn about those topics, with a focus on hearing from authors of color. We will also invite participants to bring a personal challenge or organizational conundrum specific to that topic so that we can learn from and support each other’s current questions.
Commitment * Attend all six monthly sessions (August – January). If something comes up and you have to miss one, you would commit to finding out what the conversation was about and doing some kind of homework (that Jenny would suggest) to keep practicing the work. There is a strong expectation of full and active participation in the six month journey. * Participate in as open, authentic, personal and vulnerable way you can – this work is about changing ourselves internally as much as it is about changing the world. * Do homework: some kind of reading or reflection activity. * Offer compensation: we want this to be accessible to everyone who wants to participate, and we want to value Jenny’s time planning and running these meetings. We also want to value our counterpart group, the AWE BIPOC affinity group, and as such we will be splitting the money we bring in 50/50 with them. Suggestion is $300 for the six months, and if you are unable to pay this amount we are happy to work together so that you can participate at a level you can give.
Optional addition: book group Both cohorts will be invited to join a shared book group that will meet every other week. Once we know who wants to participate we will choose the book and timing.
About the facilitator: Jenny Leis is a white, Jewish, middle class woman and professional facilitator but not a formal trainer around equity, diversity, inclusion, white anti-racism work. She is, however, immersed in her white anti-racist journey and has years of lived experience with this work within a non-profit organization, communal land project (with two residential collectives, one specifically for people of color and currently populated mostly by Native people) and informal groups/friend circles. She is not part of an arts organization; her work for the past 19 years in Portland has been based in neighborhood community organizing, forest conservation, fundraising, sustainability education, cooperative businesses and grassroots social change. She is now a full time group facilitator and consultant. Jenny brings enthusiasm and compassion for this work, and her style is based on interactive and visual activities, reflection and learning from each other.
At the beginning of the year, the concept that this year would represent 20/20 vision resonated deeply with me. Vision. Self-reflection. Clarity. It was going to be a welcome change to the political finger-pointing and smoke and mirrors that have dominated the past few years. I envisioned society bursting with growth, creativity, and a fresh realization of the things we value – like dance!
In my optimistic dream-land, I almost forgot that we don’t get to the vision without a process. The moment where we SEE, HEAR, and ACKNOWLEDGE the people, the messages, and the systems that SHOW us where self-reflection needs to take place, where to look for clarity, and how to come together to begin building a new vision – together.
The racially charged murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor have been a devastating reminder that white supremacy remains pervasive. Against the backdrop of COVID-19, this month alone has been a harsh and urgent reminder that our systems aren’t actually built to serve everyone.
As we sit with these realities, we must each examine OUR ROLE within them before we come up with our new vision. There’s A LOT that we’re moving through, individually and collectively. There is no right or wrong way to process.
As dancers, we will recognize this as the creative process. Long, arduous rehearsals and extensive training will be required. There will be pain. There will be conflict. There will be mistakes. There will be disagreements. People will fight over “stage-time”. There will be a lot of grey area.
The most influential art comes from a creative process where dancers work together, listen deeply, RESPECT each other, and HONOR different experiences within the group. While a powerful soloist is exciting, a powerful ensemble is breathtaking.
It is with this process and collective action in mind that I hope we can move forward together. We must each identify our areas of influence and take action to directly support the Black community and the people most impacted. Black Lives Matter.
How are you? That’s not a rhetorical question. Please write back! As Dance Wire pivots to focus on actions we can take that have immediate impact as well as our long-term plans, it’s helpful to hear stories from our donors, members and supporters.
Here’s Dance Wire’s story.
Just before this COVID-19 crisis we were making wonderful progress on our Strategic Plan. We were able to hire a Funds Development Consultant, we moved into an office building shared with multiple arts organizations at Zidell Yards, and we were just starting to seek funding for our Membership Restructure and Expansion plan.
Then it all shut down. We pride ourselves on being nimble and I believe we have been through this. Our first area of focus was helping to support our many members who’s entire income was wiped out for the next few months.
We joined a consortium led by Portland’s Creative Laureate and Oregon’s Poet Laureate working on a relief fund for Portland artists and have continued to connect artists and organizations to resources for funding on our new Resource Page.
Then we noticed many of our members starting to teach online classes and have been building up a YouTube channel of Living Room Dance to share both the classes and links to the artist/company’s donation page.
We have also launched a “Power of Dance” campaign on social media to remind people how powerful dance is in expressing, communicating and processing, especially in a time like this.
That last part brings me to how I am doing personally. My emotions are running high for sure, but as a dancer I am trained to listen to my body for clues and answers about how to support myself. Some days I need to lay still in complete silence for 15 minutes to settle my nerves, other days I need to MOVE fast and frantic to shed built up energy. The two things I am reminded of on a daily basis are how resilient and resourceful artists are, and how critical it is to connect to our bodies in times where our brains struggle to make sense of what’s happening.
I whole-heartedly support everyone in the Dance Wire network – staff, members, donors – focusing first and foremost on the mental, physical, and emotional health of themselves and their loved ones.
Please let us know how you are handling all of this so we can stay connected while we wait to learn more about what is ahead.