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Kamarck, Edward (ed.) / Arts in society: growth of dance in America
(Summer-Fall, 1976)

Jacobs, Ellen W.
The dancer: [why everybody suddenly loves dance],   pp. 266-[271] PDF (6.2 MB)


Page 270


The government's investment was a shrewd
one. The National Endowment's Coordinated
Residency Touring Program, which began in
1967 with four dance companies touring two
states for a total of eight weeks, had a federal
subsidy of $25,000. This year there are
seventy-one dance companies participating in
the program. Their combined weeks of tour-
ing are 360. The federal investment, which
only represents one third of the company
fee-the local sponsor picks up the rest-is
now $1.3 million.
Yes, dance has happened. Is happening.
Everyone wants to become part of the act.
Consider the audiences perched at the edge
of their seats as the Alley company socks it
to 'em. There are times at the end of a
performance of Revelations that I fully expect
audiences to scream out "Hit 'em again. Hit
'em again. Harder. Harder." Brandishing
rediscovered libidos, audiences are demand-
ing that dance fulfill all their erotic fantasies
and desires for personal stardom.
It is difficult for the once love-starved com-
panies not to play to the crowd that now
seems to be loving them so well. But as a
result much of dance has become hip and
easily accessible. Themes, lifted from the
newspapers and popular culture, are served
artistically undigested to our hungry ids.
We eat it up.
The success of Robert Joffrey's Astarte, the
first ballet created to rock music inspired a
rash of followers, mostly unsuccessful
attempts to prove that ballet is as hip and now
as WINS radio and as easy to grasp as TV
commercials. Unlike Twyla Tharp, few
choreographers are able to make ballets
which succeed in using popular culture to
make a more profound comment on the
culture itself. Having had a taste of public
love, many choreographers are now opting for
it, and, in both senses of the word, selling out
for it. It is not easy to resist making and
performing art designed to win instant
wows.
My possessive love of dance-I was there
when the houses were empty-resents audi-
ences applauding and hooting at every
virtuoso turn of events. Not only do they
break the magic of the moment, but also
I fear that their wild interruptions will seduce
artists into a kind of Broadway showoffs-
manship.
Yet the concern that artists will create art and
performers will perform for the sound of
applause is probably unnecessarily cynical.
Such salesmen will be quickly blotted out by
history. Great art will survive temporary pub-
lic negligence. Look at Martha Graham.
So despite the new audience's poor theater
manners, the growing number of dance freaks
is a happy, if not healthy sign not only for
dance, but for America as well. We are
becoming less uptight, more tuned into our-
selves as total beings. We are finally able to
enjoy the art which is most natural to us. El
Trinity, Gerald Arpino, choreographer.
Joffrey Ballet, City Center.
Ali


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