APAP 2015 – Through the Lens of Cultural Mobility

22 Jan

As it does every year, New York in January provided a great time to watch, think about, and engage in discourse around dance and the business of dance.  Between APAP and numerous other festivals occurring at the same time, New York becomes a hive of activity for performing arts professionals from around the world.

Three events – the Cultural Mobility Symposium, the APAP panel “Dance as an Outpost for America,” and the DanceUSA Forum – provided an intersection for several notes that I took regarding themes U.S. performing artists seeking more cultural mobility, particularly internationally, should perhaps examine and reflect on.

Power dynamics and empowerment

Obstacles for U.S. artists (from Outpost panel):
-At home they have to battle the idea that their work is not intrinsically valuable.
-They have to search for funding to survive domestically, much less tour.
-“Perhaps there is a lack of exposure to new ideas here” – another symptom of geographic isolation?  Cultural mobility is essential to the health of the performing arts in the U.S.

It’s all about relationships – festivals, networking organizations, and so on.

-Festivals are wonderful for seeing work, but they are also beautiful for making introductions
-Networking organizations – such as IETM, On The Move, FACE – Fresh Arts Coalition Europe, and many others – are a great way to deepen your network without risking being “the tacky American”

-You have to travel.  Americans by and large do not travel, which increases the effects of our geographic isolation.  Connections must be made in person and work must be seen in person.

Politics

-By going to a country that is not your own you are an ambassador for your home country.
-Dance can be (and is often used as) a political tool.
-Moving against a monolithic “American dance,” “European dance,” etc. and towards solidarity and connecting artists with similar work across separate cultures.

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