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By Emily Macel Theys
Our national advocacy organization turns 30.
For 30 years, Dance/USA has been a stalwart advocate for the field, providing resources like job listings and grant opportunities, research on trends, and assistance with professional development and obtaining visas. Its big moment is the annual conference, this year June 27–30 in San Francisco, which brings together dance artists and administrators from across the nation.
During her first year and a half at the helm, executive director Amy Fitterer has been implementing programs that benefit a broad range of dance professionals, including more than 450 Dance/USA members. One of her initiatives is the Institute for Leadership Training, which pairs a working choreographer, dancer, or administrator with a veteran for a seminar as well as a one-on-one mentorship.
The Taskforce on Dancer Health continues to compile data on 30 companies in order to improve dancers’ well-being. The companies include Ailey, Houston Ballet, Hubbard Street, San Francisco Ballet, North Carolina Dance Theatre, and Boston Ballet. Through a screening process, medical professionals track risk of injury through physical aspects like turnout, flexibility, and nutrition. The taskforce has put out guides on first-aid basics for stage managers and tips on navigating the U.S. health insurance system.
Dance/USA coordinates projects with its two branch offices, in Philadelphia and NYC, as well as local organizations such as Dancers’ Group in San Francisco, Boston Dance Alliance, and Audience Architects in Chicago, to host roundtable discussions and gather audition postings.
Among the speakers at this year’s conference are Ken Tabachnick, dean of School of the Arts at SUNY Purchase; Marc Kirschner of Tendu TV; retired San Francisco Ballet star Muriel Maffre; choreographer and technology maven Sydney Skybetter; and Chicago dance writer Zachary Whittenburg. Hot topics will include using technology in marketing, archiving, and audience development; diversity; and best practices for collaborating—with the community, within an organization, and among professionals.
Boston Ballet dancer Sarah Wroth with Shaw Bronner, PT, part of the Taskforce on Dancer Health. Photo by Ernesto Galan, Courtesy BB.