Town Hall 2014


An email from Development Manager Diana Crum to the Movement Research Artist Advisory Council

On 8/19/14 4:10 PM, “diana crum”  wrote:

Dear AAC –

The TOWN HALL is coming. Here’s a proposal … in the past, some of you have expressed interest in mimicking the format of our AAC meeting discussions in the Town Hall. What if each of you picked out one or two items from past meeting minutes? We could put a table in Eden’s and invite everyone to sit at the table. Each of you could read an item from the minutes as an anonymous comment (i.e. you’d read something that is not necessarily your idea). This would bring in the idea of performance … you’d be performing past conversations. Attendees could pick up the conversation where you leave off. So it would also open up your discussions to the greater public. And you can all bring your ideas to the table; we don’t have to limit the conversation to one topic. What do you think?



  • I am interested in teasing out the way that class, as in dance class, and class, as in a level of income, function in our dancing lives. Some questions I’d like to pose for consideration include, for example, why do we go to dance class? Is it to acquire or disseminate knowledge? Is it to have an experience? What kind of experience: aesthetic, physical, sensorial, social, pedagogic? Is it to have that experience in a group with others versus on our own? Is it to get work? Is it to make an income? Am I able to take class as often as I would like? Why? Why not? Is dance class something that I expect to always do as long as I am a dance artist or is it something that I no longer, or will no longer, do at a certain point? Why or why not? Is it necessary to forego something else in order to financially afford to take class? What? If I instead forgo class, what else have I given up? How do I feel about this trade off? When I take a dance class, do I feel as though I am getting something of value that can be quantified, or does the experience transcend any quantifiable value? Does paying for a dance class or charging for one commodify the experience? Does this make me more or less inclined to take class? To teach class? What role does money play in the experience of taking and giving class? How do I see these questions in relationship to a macrocosm of economic forces impacting our lives including globalization and gentrification. Lastly, within the MR community I wonder, are these aspects of an understanding of class-taking common or divergent from one person to another, and from one time or place to another?

  • Kathy Westwater
    5:44 pm
    October 2, 2014

    What about the word “class?” We’ve been talking about it pedagogically, taking class, but also class in terms of economic and social stratification. Martha Rosler has a new book out, about the culture class, which is interesting text. I haven’t read it all. The book about the creative class had a big impact when it came out. It had its own limitations. I’m interested in her taking it up in this new book. Now I’m thinking about all these things coming together. I wonder if taking class alongside this idea of class – I think one is impacting the other. Are we saying we don’t take enough class anymore because there’s not enough money? Because class-taking is part of a certain class?

  • Thanks, Diana. First off – sorry to see how many meetings in a row that I’ve missed due to my teaching sched. That leads to the topic I’d like to introduce… Academia – its influence on art-making, discourse and livelihoods. Esp. because MR will be partnering with NYU (and Simon Dove, who is interviewed for MR’s Critical Correspondence and was part of a great MR Studies Project on the subject) just a couple days after the Town Hall for a gathering of dept/program heads about how to build relevant dance programs.

    Thanks. Best – m

  • “The precise role of the artist, then, is to illuminate that darkness, blaze roads through vast forests, so that we will not, in all our doing, lose sight of it’s purpose, which is, after all, to make the world a more human dwelling place”- James Baldwin

    “Looks like what drives me crazy
    Don’t have no effect of you–
    But I’m gonna keep on at it
    Till it drives you crazy, too.”
    – Langston Hughes

    At the approach of MR’s Town Hall October 6, I ask the community of Movement Research what tensions are felt in the balance of Art, Activism, and living as an Artist.

    Nothing’s Simple in September.

    So much starts and ends.

    The Autumnal Equinox, sitting directly at the Sun’s Center, at the precipice of an ending season into the beginning of another, there is simply no wonder why in this awe-filled happening, some believed, earth was the center of the universe. Everything is changing, at least on this side of the country (says the California girl, where mostly everything stay’s the same), and when I say everything, I don’t just mean the trees. Really, everything is changing for me.

    I’m anxious, unnerved, questioning, doubtful, indecisive, and turning 30. My calendar is all over the place, my dates are clashing, and at the end of the night I’m saying “What the hell does dance have to do with any of it, anyway?!” So much putting out, I miss having time or energy to put in, to get engaged, in conversation, in exchange, in service, in ANYTHING beyond planning the next performance, residency, rehearsal, class, or grant application. And I feel guilty about complaining, because, as least I’m busy- right? I haven’t had time to fill up though, and I sense the void.

    So my questions, at the end of the night, go like this:
    Am I putting my energy in the right places? When is the next Community Board Meeting (can I make it- oh, it’s on my only day off of the week, shit.). Should I vote in Cali or NYC? Sorry I missed your show? Where am I most needed, where am I most powerful? Is there a place I belong? What’s a downtown dance community, I live in Harlem?

    On the other hand (on with my rant) I’m frustrated with racism that is as American as Modern Dance and Apple Pie; the normalizing of white cultural aesthetics at the expense of black cultural innovators and revolutionaries, such as the teenagers on the train with the boomboxes, the real twerkers of Nigeria, Jamaica, and New Orleans. I’m even more frustrated that these aren’t new conversations. That Frederick Douglass, Ida B. Wells, W.E.B. Dubois, Zora Neal Hurston, Langston Hughes, James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, and generations and generations of others have been singing the same song.

    I’m as fascinated with aestheticism as much as the next artist, but I stagger in contemplation with what the hell it has to do with the stolen lives of Sam Hose, Emmit Till, Oscar Grant, Renisha McBride, Trayvon Martin, Micheal Brown, and so so so, many more.

    I make art but I don’t feel like I have the freedom or the right to do so without reference to these crimes against humanity that continuously go, unchecked?

    In this regard, reminded by my colleague and sister Paloma, I’m not alone in these questions or frustrations. I’m instead quickened by events such as Paloma McGregor’s Dancing While Black, Camille Brown’s The Gathering, UBW’s Convening, Jaamil Kosoko’s Black Male Revisited, The Requisite Mover’s Wellspring, all these intensives and gatherings that boldly discuss and strategize the galvanizing of resources to support black artists, voices, producers, writers, etc. to shift the lens and spaces in which our work is produced, reviewed, and heralded. Changing the tide, re-inventing, re-membering, re-cycling, re-birthing, and re-connecting.

    It wasn’t until I joined Urban Bush Women in 2006 that I learned I could even do both, be an artist and activist. I had lived them as separate lives, under the umbrella of student-hood in college. Through UBW I learned about some of the intersections of Art and Activism, and later found those revelations echoed in the work of Nia Love’s BSD| Blacksmith’s Daughter, and Ebony Noelle Golden’s Betty’s Daughter Arts Collaborative, and many many others. These folks rouse my questions as I live out the knotty narrative of artist/activist.

    Lately, as everything changes around me, as I too, change with the shifting seasons, the looming whisper of cold weather, I throw on that sweater, pull out those scarves, and find that I’m in fact all bundled up with questions; the communities I’m apart of, the dance circles I traffic, the work I see and make, the artists I work with.

    At the Convening we called upon the resources of our community as Black Female Choreographers. I now call upon the pool of information and resources in my MR Community: How are WE navigating Art and Activism? How does our work interact with our nation’s socio/ecological/economic/political contexts? At the approaching Town Hall October 6 at Eden’s Expressway, might I request this be among the conversation?

    Then, someone pleeeeeeaaase tell me what was said…I’ll be in Cali at Princess Grace Awards! Yippeeee!

    [Special thanks to Paloma McGregor and Jaamil Kosoko for helping me refine my questions.]

  • Hi Diana and all,

    I am sorry I’m not going to be able to make the Town Hall.

    Looking through the minutes, one topic of interest to me was Barbara’s comments about community and location.

    Although historically defined by local geographic identities (e.g. the Manhattan downtown dance community), economic-drived dispersion has globalized dance-makers. Both the displaced and dug-in are only clicks away from each other in this newly connected world, yet live performance is all about creating microcosms in the moment, and in real life. If community is a unit with common values, as geographic privileges shift, I would specifically ask: “How does a dispersed community maintain a sense of identity?”

    Best of luck with Town Hall!

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