Friday, December 19, 2008

Dancers are the Face of Dance. AND we have a Voice.

I have had a few recent forays into the journalistic world; perhaps inspired by the thoughts of this blog.

The first includes a Dance/USA article published in the quarterly publication. My intent was to provide a dancer presence in the the organization. The article is attached below.

The second was a personal reaction to some recent dance news in a large newspaper. I responded to the journalist both praising their dance coverage, but also pointing out some incongruities in the statements in the article. To my incredible surprise the writer responded to my email within 24 hours with a great dialogue on the subject.

It amazes me to think that these journalists and critics have such an influence on how work and the industry is perceived by an audience. But the artists themselves are not powerless in this influence because the writers can be so open to discuss their thoughts.

That is where it becomes our job to be engaged and active in the public relations of the dance world. Staying abreast of the news and commentary, and responding to it is a place to start.

Here is the Dance/USA article.

Mind of an Artist

Monday, December 15, 2008

Dance/USA Taskforce on Dancer Health Screening- Information for Dancers

The following is the information given to dancers about the health screening administered through the guidelines of the Taskforce for Dancer Health and Dance/USA. The screen has been a 100% positive, post hire process to help dancers work with their primary tool- their body. Results have informed dancers of underlying tendencies and imbalances as well as general awareness.

If you work in a company that doesn't administer the screening please contact Dance/USA to learn more, or lead your affiliated health care practitioner to the screen that is online.

Dance/USA Taskforce on Dancer Health Screening

Important Information about the Screen

    1. This was created to help the dancer, help the dancer.

    1. This has no relationship to management (except, we insisted that they pay you for your time)

    1. The Screening info is totally private and confidential.

    1. This is 1000% for sure.

    1. The Screening info can never be shared with management, artistic or your colleagues.

    1. Your Screening info is protected by the same doctor/patient code of all medical information.

    1. The doctors and P.T.’s would lose their licenses and be prosecuted if this privacy and confidentiality code was broken.

    1. The entire purpose is to help you:

      1. Have better health
      2. Dance better and longer
      3. Avoid chronic problems once you retire

    1. AGMA fully supports the Taskforce Screen.

    1. Other Companies using the Screen this season:

      1. Boston Ballet, Alvin Ailey, Houston, Pittsburgh, Ballet Austin, National Ballet of Canada & more.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Remember the Golden Era of Dance?

Image from

Remember when..... dance was on television on a regular basis? ...Baryshnikov and Gelsey were regular household names? ...Suzanne Farrell was on the cover of Time Magazine?

Well....I suppose that amidst a failing economy dance may again have some venues to put itself, as an industry, back into people's everyday lives. With the reality television shows "So You Think You Can Dance" and Dancing with the Stars", more people than ever are tuning in; whether this impacts live theater ticket sales we can only hope.

And there is more.....Billy Elliot on Broadway is having an impact as PBS recently ran an incredible documentary on the three boys that star in the production.

Additionally Alastair Macaulay ran an article in the Times about the greater implications of the success of Billy Elliot the musical.

Here is an excerpt of "Finding Billy Elliot":

Friday, December 5, 2008

Production logistics.

As I watch a new production team work American Repertory Ballet's Nutcracker in a new theater, I am reminded of all the behind-the-scenes details and jobs for a large ballet. Focusing lights, loading in and out of a space, setting up tissues and rosin, mopping, moving sets... it goes on and on.

Here is a new issue that may affect the state of our arts from Dance/NYC's e-newsletter:

Use Wireless Mics? Get up to speed

White Space

The wireless microphone technology currently in use by performing arts organizations will soon undergo changes. As TV goes digital in February, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is re-examining the use of the broadcast spectrum, specifically the -white space- that exists between broadcast television channels. Recent auction of the -white space- is resulting in a reorganization of the broadcast spectrum, changes to the allowable uses of the spectrum, and the development of new devices.
On November 4, the FCC voted to authorize the use of new devices that would operate in the same space currently used for wireless microphones. The FCC ruling includes certain -protections- for wireless microphones - please stay tuned for more information on this latest ruling in the coming months.

Meanwhile, a specific portion of the -white space- - channels 52-69, roughly between 700 and 800 MHz frequencies, had already been auctioned off, and current users, including performing arts organizations, will most likely be required to vacate this part of the spectrum by February 17, 2009.

The Performing Arts Alliance has filed comments with the FCC ( ) on behalf of the not-for-profit performing arts community, urging the agency to find a viable solution to protect wireless audio devices ( ) from interference as new devices come into use. We are encouraging all parties to find a solution that is affordable for not-for-profit performing arts organizations and that will guarantee that migration to new technology and a new location on the broadcast spectrum will be free of interference during performances.

You are urged to contact your wireless microphone equipment manufacturer. Depending on make and model, your equipment could be re-banded with a new frequency range. Otherwise, it will need to be replaced. Please do this as soon as possible, especially if you are in a metropolitan market.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

New from Google

Google has a plethora of great features. A new one that my father recently discovered is Google "street view". As a function of Google Maps you can see a picture of the exact location that you are searching. For example here is the studio where American Repertory Ballet rehearses.

The advantage to this in a dancer's life is that one can find a stage door or new rehearsal location before arriving for a performance or service. Or considering that audition season is right around the corner, one can see the building as part of travel planning.

Go Google!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Dance Specific Health Resources

Health care and injury management is an enormous issue for dancers and dance companies. Finding the right treatment can be crucial to getting a dancer back to work or training if injury occurs. Below are a few links to national organizations that can locate a dance/sport specialty service.

American College of Sport Medicine- they have members with dance medicine expertise.

American Association of Orthopedic Surgeons- you can search for a sports medicine specialist, but I couldn't find any advanced function to denote dance specific.

I did find this interesting article when searching the site for dance:

Keeping dancers on their toes
Dr. Richard Coughlin positively affects is the dance community in San Francisco. “Dance is an art form I came to appreciate when training in New York City,” Dr. Coughlin said. “It’s a beautiful combination of high culture and athleticism.”

While serving as a board member for a local dance company, Dr. Coughlin learned that, unfortunately, many performers are either uninsured or underinsured. “It soon became very clear to me that the dancers were a disadvantaged patient population,” he said, explaining dance troops often can’t afford to offer health insurance coverage for their members.

To serve these dancers’ medical needs and thank them for their commitment to the arts, Dr. Coughlin is one of the medical specialists who provides them with free care through UCSF’s Dance Injury/Prevention Clinic, which is housed in a new performance building, ODC Commons. The clinic recently expanded to offer general health services, such as nutrition counseling. “It’s become a healthy dancers’ program focusing on more than musculoskeletal injuries,” Dr. Coughlin said.

American Orthopedic Socity for Sports Medicine
- you can search for a sports medicine specialist, but I couldn't find any advanced function to denote dance specific.

American Medical Society for Sports Medicine- you can search for a sports medicine specialist, but I couldn't find any advanced function to denote dance specific.

American College of Sports Medicine- Certified Professionals for health and fitness training.

International Association for Dance Medicine and Science- some great research including papers on bone density and female dancers as well as medical data on starting pointe.

Harkness Center for Dance Medicine- the best. Research, workshops and cutting edge specialists- but it is in NYC.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The real nuts and bolts.....FINANCIALS

Seeing that we are facing a trying economic time, have you ever wondered about the fiscal responsibility of a particular non-profit organization. As part of a non-profit status, financial information is public information. Guidestar is the place to get that information.

Guidestar states:

If you care about nonprofits and the work they do, then you're affected by what GuideStar does—even if this is your first visit to You see, we gather and publicize information about nonprofit organizations. Our reach is far and wide. Our database is broad and deep.

GuideStar's mission is to revolutionize philanthropy and nonprofit practice by providing information that advances transparency, enables users to make better decisions, and encourages charitable giving.

We encourage nonprofits to share information about their organizations openly and completely. Any nonprofit in our database can update its report with information about its mission, programs, leaders, goals, accomplishments, and needs—for free. We combine the information that nonprofits supply with data from several other sources. You'll find GuideStar data:

  • on this Web site
  • on our many partners' websites.
  • in computer applications used by funding entities and private companies who work with nonprofits

If you're new to GuideStar, check out our demo for new users to learn more about finding the nonprofit information you need. Then start searching our site-it's free! You'll get even more information if you complete ourregistration form and log in-also free!

Why are we so passionate about nonprofit information? Because the best possible decisions are made when donors, funders, researchers, educators, professional service providers, governing agencies, and the media use the quality information that we provide. Those decisions affect our world today and will continue to affect it for generations to come.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

A little self promotion.

Pardon me while I foray into a bit of self promotion. It is Nutcracker time of course, and American Repertory Ballet, of which I am a member, has a very nice version of the holiday production.

This blog is meant to be a resource for dancers. Self promotion is not exactly a resource. I suppose the value in this post is a piece of advice that my husband often mentions... "Your intentions will never be fulfilled if they remain a secret."

I love this internet/digital age. There is at times too much out there to sift through, but the ability to e-blast and digitally share marketing material is a fabulous revolution.

If you are in the New York/New Jersey area and would enjoy a bit of Nutcracker merriment drop me a line and I will let you know which shows I am cast as what. (I rotate Marie, Sugar Plum, Chinese and Mirliton/German- a little more self promotion!)

Also, I am becoming a huge advocate for spreading the word about keeping the arts alive. The failing economy is already affecting the stability of many arts organizations. Broadways ticket sales are down by thousands and it was recently announced that "Spring Awakening" and "Hairspray" will be closing early next year.

The best thing that we can do is to live the arts and share our experiences with everyone we know. Perhaps a little self promotion is all we have.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Healthy Dancers- Part II

I recently attended a meeting for the Dance/USA Taskforce on Dancer Health. It is a thrill to report that over twenty professional dance companies have implemented the post-hire health screen. Although more outcomes are still in development, one great benefit is the knowledge that dancers are acquiring in reference to their primary tool- their bodies!

I find it fascinating to learn what inherent or created imbalances exist both individually and within a company of dancers. There are some incredible people in the medical field donating many long hours for the well being of dancers.

One of the resources mention in the meeting was the International Association of Dance Medicine and Science, aka IADMS. They have many articles on injury, injury prevention, healthy teaching practices and nutrition.

Here is an excerpt on fueling the dancer:

Nutrition Fact Sheet: Fueling the Dancer

To perform at their best, dancers need to be well fueled for classes, rehearsals, and performances. This paper will present a strategy for obtaining the energy needed for dance training and the right balance of carbohydrate, fat, protein, micronutrients, and fluids.

One important challenge facing many dancers is ingesting sufficient quantities of food to meet the energy demands of dance. The first step in planning a high performance diet is to be sure that the dancer is obtaining adequate caloric intake. The easiest rough estimate of how many calories a dancer requires during heavy training is 45-50 calories per kilogram of body weight for females and 50-55 calories per kilogram of body weight for males. For a more accurate assessment, dancers should consult a dietitian.

A low caloric intake will not only compromise energy availability, it can also lead to an under-ingestion of many micronutrients that could affect performance, growth and health. After calculating the number of calories needed, the next step is to estimate the necessary amount of carbohydrate, fat, and protein, the building blocks of the diets.

A dancer's diet should be composed of about 55-60% carbohydrate, 12-15% protein, and 20-30% fat

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Healthy Dancers

Gone are the days of suffering through mindless aches and pains and starvation to reach a specific aesthetic. Not that aches and pains nor an aesthetic exist, but more and more dancers are becoming educated about their bodies and self care.

has both published a new book and also has an upcoming seminar for students and pre-professionals. New York City Ballet just had a similar seminar as well. The Harkness Dance Center offers many programs for professional and pre-professional alike.

ABT Healthy Dancer Open House

Seminars on Nutrition and Injury Prevention
Offered Free to Families, Students, and Instructors
Sunday, November 16, 2008, 12 Noon
Special Guest Appearances by Angelina Ballerina- and
Dancers of American Ballet Theatre
American Ballet Theatre will hold its first ABT Healthy Dancer Open House at its 890 Broadway studios on Sunday, November 16, 2008 from 12:00 noon to 4:00 p.m. The Open House is a free event open to dance students of all ages across all disciplines, as well as parents and teachers throughout the New York metropolitan area. The event will include demonstrations by American Ballet Theatre-s Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School, a special appearance by Angelina Ballerina- and guest appearances by ABT dancers.

ABT-s Healthy Dancer Open House will offer seminars throughout the day from the following panel of ABT medical experts: Dr. William Hamilton, orthopedist, and Julie Daugherty, ABT physical therapist, will discuss injury prevention. Joy Bauer Nutrition will discuss healthy eating habits specific to dancers. Linda Hamilton, Ph.D, psychologist, will give -Advice for Dancers- from her monthly Dance Magazine columns. Special guest Angelina Ballerina- will lead demonstrations in safe stretching for children. Professional pointe shoe fittings by Capezio® will be available for students and pre-professional dancers.

ABT Healthy Dancer Open House kicks off the release of the new publication The Healthy Dancer: ABT Guidelines for Dancer Health, scheduled for release on October 20, 2008.
ABT Healthy Dancer Open House is sponsored by Payless ShoeSource®. For more information and to sign up for ABT Healthy Dancer Open House, please visit ABT-s website at ( ) or call the Healthy Dancer Hotline 212.419.4383.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Job Description. Part VII- Executive Director


In a typical dance organization there are two people on the top of the leadership pyramid. The artistic director that I have previously described and then the executive director of whom I will mention here. The executive director is essentially the financial and business head of the organization, the CEO of the non-profit. Together the artistic and exectutive director are the right and left brain respectively.

As mentioned in previous posts, each organization has its own inter workings; with today's tight economy, there are an increasing number of organizations that utilize one person to wear both the artistic and executive hats. But here is a summary of the executive duties of a non-profit organization.

The United Way of King County offers a plethora of non-profit governance resources. Including the following job description for executive directors by Jan Masoaoka:

At a recent gathering of nonprofit CEOs (executive directors) it was amazing how many people didn't have job descriptions - and almost no one had one that had been recently updated. Too often boards only look at the executive director's job description when they're unhappy with their executive or when they're hiring a new one. If you're writing or rewriting a job description, it may be helpful to have one for comparison. I've taken my job description as executive director of CompassPoint Nonprofit Services - one of the Board Cafe's co-publishers - and made it a bit more "generic" to serve as a template. Whatever job description you use, test to see that it both provides everyday guidance for the executive director and can serve as an evaluation tool at the end of the year. AND be sure to revisit and revise the job description as the job and the organization change.

Executive Director

The Executive Director is the Chief Executive Officer of ____________. The Executive Director reports to the Board of Directors, and is responsible for the organization's consistent achievement of its mission and financial objectives. In program development and administration, the Executive Director will:

Specific committee responsibilities:

  1. Assure that the organization has a long-range strategy which achieves its mission, and toward which it makes consistent and timely progress.

  2. Provide leadership in developing program, organizational and financial plans with the Board of Directors and staff, and carry out plans and policies authorized by the board.

  3. Promote active and broad participation by volunteers in all areas of the organization's work.

  4. Maintain official records and documents, and ensure compliance with federal, state and local regulations.

  5. Maintain a working knowledge of significant developments and trends in the field.

In communications, the Executive Director will:

  1. See that the board is kept fully informed on the condition of the organization and all important factors influencing it.

  2. Publicize the activities of the organization, its programs and goals.

  3. Establish sound working relationships and cooperative arrangements with community groups and organizations.

  4. Represent the programs and point of view of the organization to agencies, organizations, and the general public.

In relations with staff, the Executive Director will:

  1. Be responsible for the recruitment, employment, and release of all personnel, both paid staff and volunteers.

  2. Ensure that job descriptions are developed, that regular performance evaluations are held, and that sound human resource practices are in place.

  3. See that an effective management team, with appropriate provision for succession, is in place.

  4. Encourage staff and volunteer development and education, and assist program staff in relating their specialized work to the total program of the organization.

  5. Maintain a climate that attracts, keeps, and motivates a diverse staff of top quality people.

In budget and finance, the Executive Director will:

  1. Be responsible for developing and maintaining sound financial practices.

  2. Work with the staff, Finance Committee, and the board in preparing a budget; see that the organization operates within budget guidelines.

  3. Ensure that adequate funds are available to permit the organization to carry out its work.

  4. Jointly, with the president and secretary of the board of directors, conduct official correspondence of the organization, and jointly, with designated officers, execute legal documents.

Job Description. Part VI- Board of Directors

Who are your board of directors? For many dancers in many companies, it is hard to really get to know these people as they are rarely present on a day-to-day basis. But the role of a board is imperative for a non-profit organization. In fact the public/group governance is one of the requisites set up to become a 501(c)3. (That refers to the legal tax exempt status of a non-profit).

Personally I find it fascinating to know those on my board, they are a window into financial, medical, law and other professions. As the work of serving on a board is volunteer, I commend the work and responsibility that these individuals take on my behalf. They are also ambassadors for the art and as they go about their varied careers.

The boards' responsibilities are established upon the formation of each nonprofit organization and are as varied and unique as each organization. Typically a board sets a meeting schedule monthly or quarterly to oversee the running of the organization. Often there are committees and sub committees to address individual tasks, but again this is all specific to the organization and agenda of the time.

The Alliance of New York State Arts Organizations defines the Board and their responsibilities as follows:

Board of Directors

To do good work, board members or boards need to:
1 . Understand and be committed to the mission statement.
2. Broadly represent the community.
3. Participate in a working committee structure and have assigned responsibilities.
4. Understand and embrace stewardship and governance roles.
5. Understand their administrative role.
6. Have shared leadership responsibilities.
7. Manage change.
8. Develop annual and multi-year action plans. 9. Be self-critical and willing to engage in self-evaluation.
10. Possess the ability to evaluate, cultivate, train and replace leadership.
11. Financially support the organization and participate in the fund-raising process.

1. Understand and be committed to the mission statement. Since board members are the "sales force" of the arts organization, their full understanding and commitment to the mission of the organization is primary. Board members need to fully understand (and be able to communicate to others) the organization's mission. If they do not understand the mission, they will not be able to sell it to anyone else.

2. Broadly represent the community.
It is vital that an arts organization's board broadly represent the community's demographics, its arts groups and individual artists. Community leaders from education, business, industry, unions, the legal sector, local government, chambers of commerce and funders are excellent recruitment sources.

3. Participate in a working committee structure with assigned responsibilities.
Committees enable the board to work in depth in areas such as planning, finance, resource development, nominating, program and marketing. Board committees are established for many reasons: to assume part of the board's work-load; to develop a special expertise that will enable a board to act in a more informed and responsible manner on an issue; to save time; sustain a tradition; or handle a continuing organizational responsibility. Committee members are assigned responsibilities suited to their personal and professional strengths and interests. This insures success. Success, in turn, insures the board member's personal satisfaction and encourages their continued commitment. An effective committee is clear about its responsibilities and relationship to others and is flexible. To work well, a committee needs clear direction; an annual schedule; a specific statement of its charge; and clear and concise operating procedures.

4. Understand and embrace stewardship and governance roles.
The primary role of the board is to serve as the organization's governing body. The board is charged with establishing policy to be carried out through an administrative staff. Board members have a stewardship role: to speak on behalf of the organization; to promote its programs and services; to represent the organization in social and business and legislative meetings; to help support the organization financially, as well as in an advisory capacity; and to participate in the fund-raising efforts of the organization.

5. Understand their administrative role.
By-laws help clarify the role of the board. They outline the overall structure of the board and the organization. They define how an organization operates, and its parameters and they do this in relation to both the board and the administration. The line of responsibility separating the board (as the governing body) and the administration (as the body that implements policy) is clearly stated in the by-laws. The by-laws are the first area declaring this important division of responsibility. Personnel policies and manuals are the second area defining this division.

6. Have shared leadership responsibilities.
Shared leadership refers to a well-balanced assignment of roles and responsibilities. If the board has a strong committee structure, clearly defined job descriptions for chairs and committee members, as well as defined staff roles, the achievement of shared leadership should naturally follow. Problems can occur when, for example, the executive committee is taking action, where the full board should be taking responsibility, or when the board becomes too involved with the day-to-day activities of the organization and interferes with the jobs of staff members.

7. Manage change.
The capacity to manage change is critical to the health, success and growth of an arts service organization. If an organization is serving its constituency to the fullest extent, change is certain to occur. It is therefore important for the board of directors to recognize that change will inevitably occur within a healthy organization. A strong, flexible board will recognize the roads that lead to advancement and the achievement of the organization's mission and will lead the organization forward along these roads.

8. Develop annual and multi-year action plans.
With a clear and concise mission statement as a starting point, an arts organization is ready to develop both annual and multi-year plans to guide its activities. Input from the staff will provide the board with important criteria for making decisions, as will program evaluations, organizational assessments and audits. A well-written annual and long-range plan will incorporate both programmatic and financial outlooks. Annual and multi-year plans are only as valuable as the action they inspire. During the planning process, the board may take advantage of the expertise of the organization's staff and to provide information on the value and success of programs and services. The board may also wish to call on outside counsel to provide objective information that can help guide the actions of the organization and assist with evaluation processes.

9. Be self-critical and willing to engage in self-evaluation.
The capacity to engage in self-evaluation and the ability to redirect energy and focus when required is essential. One of the primary roles of a planning committee is to provide the board with the opportunity to regularly examine the activities and actions of the organization. Evaluation is needed to determine what modification or change, if any, is necessary.

10. Possess the ability to evaluate, cultivate, train and replace leadership.
The board can provide itself and each trustee with opportunities for evaluation. Evaluation happens in different ways. Through orientations and retreats, for example, the board can evaluate its own operation, as well as provide trustees with self-evaluation tools. Boards should provide training opportunities, internally through regularly scheduled orientations, and externally, through programs, workshops, seminars, lectures, books, articles and newsletters. Boards benefit from having a nominating or board development committee. This important committee is charged with the responsibility for evaluating the performance of the board and determining the type of board expertise needed to carry forth the organization's mission.

11. Financially support the organization and participate in the fund-raising process.
This is one of the most critically important roles of the trustee. Part of the stewardship role is to promote the arts organization to others and offer them the opportunity to assist financially. While each board member should support the organization within their individual means, each trustee in recognition of the honor that service to the organization bestows should stretch within their limits to fulfill their financial obligation.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Job Description. Part V- Marketing Director

A cool new logo from Ballet Oklahoma.

The job of the marketing director is truly to get "butts in seats". Interestingly again the position varies company to company as sometimes the job is outsourced to an advertising firm.

Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet has some of the best marketing that I have seen particularly in respect to internet presence and interactivity. Additionally the company that I dance for has recently embarked on guerrilla marketing through fall fashion. The company dancers now have beautiful jackets embroidered with our names and company logo; the public can purchase various socks, shirts and pants as well as car magnets! If you want to pimp up your car with a magnet you can contact American Repertory Ballet through their website.

The marketing director of American Repertory Ballet, Christine Bragg writes of her job, "it’s my job to get our name out there. That entails: writing and disseminating press releases, creating performance marketing campaigns with online advertising, print advertising, and ground marketing, coordinating electronic communication with e-newsletters and facebook/myspace groups, planning and coordinating special events like post-performance receptions, handling comp tickets for performances, and meeting press at events and performances, just to name a few

Monday, September 29, 2008

Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts- MediateArt

I have previously mentioned Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts, but here is specific information on a program that deals with work contract and condition disputes.

MediateArt: VLA's alternative dispute resolution, contract negotiation, and negotiation counseling program.

MediateArt, a VLA program since 1998, offers artists and arts organizations three services in an objective, supportive forum at a nominal cost: Mediation (dispute resolution), contract negotiation, and negotiation counseling. Respectively, these services assist artists and arts organizations in resolving arts-related disputes, in forming mutually agreeable arrangements among collaborators, and in preparing for a negotiation.

Artists have used MediateArt's services successfully for many types of matters: For example, resolving disagreements about intellectual property ownership, such as who owns the name of a band or film footage; working out the business terms, including compensation, credit and control, between a lyricist and composer for an opera; and working through differing opinions about the proposed services of a web-design project.

MediateArt's Mediation (Dispute Resolution) service offers a process for artists to resolve their differences with the assistance of neutral mediators. This service, an alternative to engaging legal representation to begin an adversarial process seeking a remedy, can resolve disputes without the significant time, cost, and resources involved in the type of process that may lead to litigation. Mediation is not an adversarial process resulting in winners and losers. Instead, our process empowers artists to resolve their own disagreements by coming to resolutions through win-win and creative solutions to these disputes. Through this effective model, we regularly help artists restore business and creative relationships that once seemed irreparable.

MediateArt's Contract Negotiation service assists artists and arts organizations in working though the terms and conditions of a prospective or existing relationship with the ultimate goal of expressing that relationship in writing. Among other things, this service provides a forum for artists to discuss and work through their mutual expectations, how the project is going to proceed, what will happen if the project does not occur as anticipated, and who is going to own and control the creative output. The two VLA-trained facilitators will assist in moving the discussion forward and focusing the participants on the critical issues. The end goal of the process is to produce a written agreement formalizing the terms and conditions of the working relationship.

MediateArt's Negotiation Counseling service helps artists analyze business opportunities and prospective collaborations in advance of creating a written agreement with another party. Negotiation Counseling may be useful for artists in several different contexts including artists who have negotiations that have stalled because of a lack of business skills, artists who are working with others without a written agreement, artists who would like assistance in analyzing an opportunity that has been presented to them, and artists who are preparing for mediation.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

October is National Arts and Humanities month!

Americans for the Arts in Washington DC coordinates and declares October National Arts and Humanities month. This is a time when art galleries, political activists and the media honor and focus on the contributions of art from coast to coast.

Now is the time. Despite our countries current economic crisis we need to support the arts. There is a huge opportunity for attention the election process.

This link will take you to the national website with links to local activities, political advocacy tools, creative conversations and ways to get involved.

President Bush expressed this in regards to last years National Arts and Humanities month, "National Arts and Humanities Month is a time to recognize the ability of the arts to lift our spirits and enrich our lives. I encourage our citizens to support the arts in their communities by attending a theater performance or concert, visiting a museum or library, or enjoying the many exciting cultural programs in their communities."

National Arts and Humanities Month

Sunday, September 21, 2008

some down time

For many of us a new season is under way and "down time" is valuable.

Here are a few links to some fun ways to get some R&R.

Free frogger online.

Garfield minus Garfield a esoteric take on the popular comic.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Do your part.

This blog is a resource for dancers to empower themselves. At this time, every four years, we have an opportunity to exercise our right to vote. Here is a link to the governments page to voter registration, absentee voting and any thing else you made need to do your part.

If you think that things need to change or stay the same, you take responsibility and vote.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Job Description. Part IV- Artistic Director

So who is the artistic director of a company and what do they do? Most simply the Artistic Director is the vision behind an arts organization. Interestingly in dance the artistic directors are often former dancers who have acquired leadership and business administration skills. They navigate the territory of both art making and the means of making art. Together the Artistic and Executive director are the top level of the pyramid in the organization. There are a many dance companies however that combine these two jobs into one person or devise an organizational manager or artistic manager to perform particular duties of the one of the positions.

And just from my own observations of Artistic and Executive directors that I have known, both jobs are 24 hour per day jobs.

Here is some information From the Alliance of New York State Arts Organizations:

Artistic Director
Sample Job Description

Job Title: Artistic Director

Reports to: Executive Director

Supervises: Artistic and technical personnel

Responsibilities and Duties:
The Artistic Director is responsible for conceiving, developing, and implementing the artistic vision and focus of the organization. The Artistic Director is responsible for major decisions about the ongoing development of the aesthetic values and activities, after extensive consultation with the Executive Director

The Artistic Director:
- Hires, supervises and evaluates artistic personnel including directors, performers, designers, and stage managers
- Hires, supervises and evaluates key technical personnel, including Production manager and Technical Director
- Develops, implements, and evaluates programs for the year
- With Executive Director, develops annual program budget
- Acts as a spokesperson for the organization's artistic purpose via speaking engagements, public and social appearances, and, as requested, at fundraising events and solicitations
- Fosters the development of good relations with other cultural organizations by participating in meetings and joint activities where appropriate
- Directs at least one production per season
- Reports to the Board of Directors on a regular basis to give an update on artistic activity
- Supervises the maintenance of written procedures manual for technical and production staff

Friday, September 5, 2008

New goodies on this blog. Scroll Down.

I am trying to stay up to date with blogging latest and greatest, although I am sure I am still far behind. But in case you haven't scrolled down all the way, please note the video bar at the bottom as well as the yoga pose of the day (which is suppose to refresh everyday!). As I have mentioned before, yoga is a great tool for dancers and office workers to realign their body at the beginning or end of a day!

Let me know if you have any recommendations for widgets or other resources to serve empowered dancers.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Career Counseling Workshops- on tour!

Career transition for dancers is taking their services on the road. First stop Pittsburgh, PA then Minneapolis, MN (September 21-22) & Dallas (October 5-6). Remember that there are constantly offerings at the LA and NYC Career Transition for Dancers Offices. Check the website here.

From the CTFD newsletter:
National Outreach Projects bring our services to you. Career Transition For Dancers is taking it's programs & services on the road.
Whether you are a pre-professional, professional or former professional dancer, you are invited to attend our national outreach projects free of charge. Be sure to tell your friends.
Upcoming National Outreach Project
Pittsburgh, PA at Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre
Sunday, Sept. 14 - Monday, Sept. 15
For more information or to reserve a place, call us at 212 764 0172 or email

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Dancers trying to save the day- and their livelihoods.

Texas Ballet Theater, under the direction of Ben Stevenson, is currently in major financial stress. An article from guide cites that TBT needs to raise over a half billion dollars within the next 60 days to survive. TBT needs to raise between $1 to 1.5 million in the long term.

Unfortunately this is not a new situation to the dance world. We have lost numerous companies over that last five years including Ballet Internationale, Ohio Ballet, Oakland Ballet and many others. Ballet Florida just overcame a half million dollar deficit last spring.

The most interesting thing in the case of TBT is that the dancers have been afforded the opportunity to get involved and help raise awareness and funds to keep their organization afloat. Here is an article focusing on the 39 dancers of TBT.

If you, or anyone you know can help, "now is the time!"

Friday, August 22, 2008

Off season. Part III

Here is a picture of my students from Mid- Atlantic Ballet in Newark, DE. I have guest taught and performed with these students for nearly five years.

So I am basking in the moment of another summer intensive program's completion. The past two weeks I have earned my living teaching young dancers in Delaware and Michigan. It has been very rewarding; full of sweat and profound improvements.

Teaching is a great way that many dancers sustain themselves and give back. I still don't really consider myself an expert in the field of dance, but I have made a great career of it and have ways of working with my body, sewing pointe shoes and presenting myself. I forget that these are all learned skills that in many ways are still very analog. (Although more and more students are realizing that YouTube! offers variations for them to learn).

This week in addition to ballet and pointe, variations and improv classes, we had a pointe shoe workshop and working lunches watching videos. The growth through the week was astounding and most importantly we all learned from each other. The students questions and struggles force me to reassess my theories on technique and artistry as well as how I communicate.

Although being a dancer in America usually means a fair amount of layoff time, I am finding that the outlets where I earn my living are varied and rewarding.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Managing a dancers life- an article.

Below is an article on a west coast choreographer managing life in the arts. The excerpt is from a downloadable pdf publication called CROSSOVER: How Artists Build Careers across
Commercial, Nonprofit and Community Work by Ann Markusen | Sam Gilmore | Amanda Johnson
Titus Levi | Andrea Martinez. This is out of a great series of research papers from the Hubert Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs; the business school of the University of Minnesota.

They have compiled a number of economic arts impact articles over the past decade and although current conditions are vastly different than ten years ago, the information is relevant and packed with interesting stuff.

Sarah Swenson Pg. 64

Choreographer Sarah Swenson faces the unique challenges of running a commercial
dance company based out of Los Angeles. As co-founder of Sarah Swenson & Vox
Dance Theatre, she balances the demands of being a commercial artist with being a
nonprofit dance teacher. While the teaching supports both herself and her
company, it keeps her away from her own creative work.

In 1976, Swenson moved from Boston to attend New York University, but she
left after two years to focus on performing as a dancer. Early on in her
career, she worked with Jubilation Dance Company and Alvin Ailey’s third dance
company in a piece entitled Northside. In 1984, she began
studying at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Center and eventually started
teaching, working in repertory and performance coaching. Teaching provided stability
and allowed her to make a living exclusively in dance through teaching, dancing, and making
new pieces.

While still on the East Coast, she began to choreograph, earning a positive review in the New York Times for a piece she developed in 1990. By 1995 she had cofounded Seraphim Dance Theatre with the
late Raymond Harris, performing in New York venues such as the Aaron Davis Hall, Alice Tully Hall, and the United Nations. A few grants trickled in, including support from the Brooklyn Arts Council.

After burning out on New York, Swenson came to LA. She decided to attend graduate school at California State University-Long Beach, where her choreography blossomed. “It was there that I started doing important work, when I was sure I had something to say as an artist.” After finishing her MFA, she landed
a job as a choreographer with The Long Beach Opera for a performance of Euridice by Jacopo Peri. She gravitated toward the stability of academia, taking a job at Missouri Valley College, in Marshall, but
resigned after two years and returned to Los Angeles.

With Sarah Swenson & Vox Dance Theatre, she has choreographed several pieces, some of which have been
produced in festivals, such as the Festival Under the Stars in Palm Desert, the South LA Contemporary Dance Festival in Torrance, and most prominently, the FIDA International Dance Festival in Toronto, which invited the company to return for a performance in the summer of 2006. Some of these appearances provide artist fees, and some awards. In each case, payments tend to be small.

Even so, Swenson makes it a point to pay the dancers most of the money to help cover their expenses.
Funding the project is a pressing issue. Swenson harbors reservations about becoming a nonprofit organization. “For me to be competitive I ought to have a nonprofit organization, but doing that will
probably make my life even more impossible than it is, and I’m not sure what I’m going to get out of it
because there is so much competition for so few grants.” In addition, she doesn’t see a clear path to
attracting corporate sponsorships, although Adobe has contributed support. “And I would have to
change my style, my choreography, who I work with, my contacts… everything. These worlds aren’t compatible.”

She covers her living expenses teaching courses at Cal State-Long Beach, Loyola Marymount University, and
Saint Joseph Ballet. But this hardly keeps her head above water, especially as she continues to do the basics of promotion and incurs expenses for website design, renting rehearsal space, buying sets and costumes. “I
spend a huge amount of time and money on how I am presented.”

This leaves her between a rock and a hard place: “I could teach more, but I’d be in a panic because I couldn’t keep the company moving.” She’s considering working with a dance agent in order to help focus her
marketing, publicity and organization efforts. And somehow, amidst all this, she continues to work as a dancer, most recently in a performance of the works of Rudy Perez at REDCAT.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Dance USA memberships.

Read this document on Scribd: Professional Dancer Flier

Here are the new fliers for Dance USA memberships for dancers. It is really a great organization that opens many doors to new ways of thinking in respect to a dancer as a business as well as an artist. (We all need to eat right?).

In brief, if you are an employee of a company that is already a Dance USA member, you can apply for a membership for free. If you are a freelance dancer, or your company is not a member, there is a significantly discounted dancer rate of $30/ year (likely tax deductible). The benefits well outweigh the costs, so get involved!

Read this document on Scribd: Company Dancer Flier

Monday, August 11, 2008

Look what I did.

Well, this is the second and final incarnation, but I created a website for my GYROTONIC® business. I have recently been certified and am trying to promote my business.

The first incarnation of my personal website is the true resource. Weebly is a free online website creator and host. The drawback is that the free web address involves having .weebly in the domain. But you can upgrade at a very reasonable rate. There are many templates to choose from and quickly design your site. And for those wishing to market themselves either for guest work or auditions, the online accessibility is convenient and shows very well.


Saturday, August 9, 2008

A little too personal perhaps...

This blog is not intended to be a journal or diary, but rather a resource of links and thoughts for dancers pursuing a life in dance. However this blog is a creative outlet for my current thoughts and issues on my path as a dancer.

That said, how as dance artists do we serve the art beyond our selves? How throughout the sometimes painful and arduous process do we remain open and giving?

Dance is a very strange process. There is no check list, no finite time of completion (other than each curtain of each show) or ladder to climb. The process of dance is all encompassing and very personal. Growth in the process occurs through a series of critiques from an outside source as well as reflections from within. But with those external seemingly negative forces, how do we stay true to the inside motivation to dance?

On the other side of the scenario, how do we as artists humbly accept the praise of the audience post performance? Of course the praise feels great, but in order to fully serve the art, it is not about commendation. Approval is an ugly beast that deludes us. Success of one piece or show does not mean that the next venture will provide such results. And is it really art if in the end it is only created for the approval of an outside force?

Life needs art, my life needs to dance; without dance as art I can hardly speak.

Friday, August 8, 2008

A real way to get involved.

The Southern Theatre in Minneapolis has had some leadership problems of late. Basically the board fired the director of nearly 35 years. Here is an Minnesota Public Radio story.

You can get active now by emailing the following petition letter to the mentioned email.

Members of the Southern's community met on Monday night. Much was
discussed but the primary outcome was that everyone present voted to
send a letter to the Southern Board requesting an outside, independent
evaluator to comprehensively examine the situation at the Southern.
More specifics on what this will entail is detailed in the letter
below. The Jerome Foundation has agreed to help pay for it,
Springboard for the Arts has agreed to help coordinate the logistics.
We have spoken with many current and former staff and they support it.

This is a major step towards transparency and accountability but we
need your voice to make it happen.

The letter below needs to go out ASAP with ALL OF OUR NAMES ON IT.
Time is of the essence!

Here's what to do:

Read it, then do the following:

- Send an email to Karen Sherman with your name
and your title/affiliation/company/no company/etc., if you so choose.
Do this so that I can easily cut and paste and add your name to the
list of supporters of this action.

- Next, forward to your colleagues, your own board if you have one,
friends, supporters -- even if they don't live in the Twin Cities.
The Board is hearing from people across the country and it does
matter! They did not anticipate that there are national interests at

This really is urgent -- in part because the 2008-2009 season artists
need this process underway before the season is too far along and that
is right around the corner. So please, do this right now.

If you have any questions about this, please email Karen Sherman at, or Carl Flink at, or John
Munger at

Thank you for your continued attention and concern,
The Southern Community Working Group

P.S. -- Apologies if you are getting this twice...

August 6, 2008

To the Southern Theater Board:

We write to you as concerned members of the Southern Theater's

We share a deep concern for the future of the Southern Theater; for
the fair and respectful treatment of its staff, including 30 years plus
Artistic Director Jeff Bartlett; for the artistic integrity of its
programming; for a system of structure and leadership that upholds the
theater's organizational mission; and for the preservation of the
Southern Theater as an artist-centered and driven institution.

Large segments of the Twin Cities performing arts community are
clearly up in arms over the Southern Board and interim management's
handling of this situation, and the ongoing lack of clear communication
about what Jeff's "indefinite leave" and other changes mean to the
direction of the Southern and its commitment to fostering artistic
exploration and risk-taking.

We propose that an outside, independent evaluator be brought in to
examine the situation and report its findings to the Southern and the
community. This evaluator, agreed upon by the Board and representatives
from the constituency of the Southern Theater, would interview all
parties (including the staff, artist community, and Board), to offer an
evaluation of recent events and the current status of and future plans
for the organization - e.g., the relationship of the organization to
the artist constituency, the sudden dismissal of the founding artistic
director, the lack of an articulated plan for continuity of artistic
leadership and transition, staff concerns and structure - and suggest
strategies for moving forward based on an assessment of the needs of

We believe that funding can be identified to support a focused,
time-limited assessment and we will be responsible for securing that
funding. The Jerome Foundation has made a commitment and other funders
will be asked for contributions. Springboard for the Arts, a
nationally-respected arts organization based in St Paul that provides
consulting services to arts organizations and independent artists, has
agreed to serve as a neutral conduit for the funding process and to
facilitate identification of an evaluator acceptable to both the
Southern Board and the artistic community.

The community stands behind it. We have spoken with several current
and former staff and they support it. We hope that you will make a
gesture of reconciliation with your artistic constituency and inroads
towards organizational health by agreeing to participate in this
mediated, neutral evaluation.

We believe this is urgent because:

It has been almost four weeks since Jeff Bartlett was put on
"indefinite leave."

It has been over two weeks since the public meeting called by the
community, at which the Southern Board provided no clear answers as to
the status of artistic leadership or organizational structure at this
beloved theater.

The Southern Theater's website continues to list no artistic leader
and a host of Interim positions:
Interim Executive Director; Interim Development Director; Interim
Technical Director; Interim Production Manager.

To date, only a handful of artists and community members have received
proactive phone calls or emails from the Board or Executive staff.

Finally, The Southern risks a potential exodus by its current and
future season artists, and a general boycott by the community. To
quell this potential disaster and out of deference to artists with
unsigned contracts, this evaluation needs to be conducted before the
2008-2009 season is well underway and we propose it be completed by
September 15, 2008.

In order to secure funding and identify potential evaluators, we need
the Board to confirm its willingness to act on this proposal by August
. Please email Laura Zabel at Springboard for the Arts
( and Karen Sherman
( with your response. Laura will then coordinate
recommendations for evaluators and serve as a liaison between the
Southern Board and the arts community around this issue.


Sunday, August 3, 2008

Political Advocacy Tool

The Performing Arts Alliance hosts an easy to navigate website where you can utilize form letters to contact your local government officials.

Here is an example of a current pending arts issue:

Prior to 1969, artists, writers, and composers were allowed to take a fair-market value deduction for their works donated to a museum, library, or archive. In 1969, however, Congress changed the law, and as a result the number of works donated by artists dramatically declined. The effect of the 1969 legislation was immediate and drastic:

* The Museum of Modern Art in New York received 321 gifts from artists in the three years prior to 1969; in the three years after 1969 the museum received 28 works of art from artists—a decrease of more than 90 percent.
* The biggest loser was the Library of Congress, which annually received 15 to 20 large gifts of manuscripts from authors. In the four years after 1969, it received one gift.
* Dr. James Billington, Librarian of Congress, says, “The restoration of this tax deduction would vastly benefit our manuscript and music holdings, and remove the single major impediment to developing the Library’s graphic art holdings. [The] bill would also benefit local public and research libraries. When this tax deduction was allowed in the past, many urban and rural libraries profited from the donation of manuscripts and other memorabilia from authors and composers who wanted their creative output to be available for research in their local communities.”

H.R. 1524 and S. 548 are identical to legislation that the Senate has passed five times in the past few years, but that has not been reviewed by the House.

The American Arts Alliance is a member of the Legislative Planning Committee for Arts Advocacy Day 2008. Positions in this brief were developed in partnership with the Committee.

Read this document on Scribd: AdvocacyBasics