Midterm Elections Are Nov. 6. Treat Them Like a Performance: Show Up
The midterm elections are less than three weeks away on November 6. If you're registered to vote, hooray!
But you can't fully celebrate before you've completed your mission. Showing up at the polls is what matters most—especially since voter turnout for midterms doesn't have a fabulous track record. According to statistics from FairVote, about 40 percent of the population that is eligible to vote actually casts a ballot during midterm elections.
Many members of the dance community are making it clear that they want that percentage go up, and they're using social media to take a stand. Here's how they're getting involved:
Rachel Neville's #movethevote
On August 20, popular dance photographer Rachel Neville announced her #movethevote campaign. Since then, she's been steadily posting photographs of dancers clad in white, all wearing a bar of bold red lipstick across their face. Some of the images include political statistics or messages about what's at stake—big issues like women's rights, gun control and arts advocacy just to name a few.
Her subjects are well-known performers, like New York City Ballet's Ashley Bouder, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's Fana Tesfagiorgis and Neil Haskell, who's currently in Hamilton. Not only do they take arresting photographs, but they have robust social media followings, which will hopefully help boost voter turnout.
Dance for Democracy
Another dancer-driven campaign is Dance for Democracy, which released a video featuring choreography by a host of dancer-activists, including Debbie Allen, Kenny Ortega, Chloe Arnold and Wade Robson.
UPDATE 10/25: "Blue Wave," choreographed and directed by Andrew Winghart
Since posting this original story, another dance-heavy campaign has started gaining ground. Andrew Winghart has teamed up with Swing Left, a grassroots organization that aims to inspire more votes for Democratic candidates in swing districts. The video above, directed and choreographed by Winghart, features his signature brand of unison and canon moves en masse to make a powerful statement. It's set to a soundtrack of Sia's "Never Give Up" with voiceovers from volunteers explaining why your vote matters.
Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS' #beltthevote
And if you're more of the song-and-dance type, Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS is encouraging voter registration with its #betlthevote campaign. ("You vote, Glen Coco!") We don't care whether you sing or dance your way to the polls, as long as you get there. See you November 6!
Michele Byrd-McPhee's uncle was a DJ for the local black radio station in Philadelphia, where she was born. As a kid she was always dancing to the latest music, including a new form of powerful poetry laid over pulsing beats that was the beginning of what we now call hip hop.
Byrd-McPhee became enamored of the form and went on to a career as a hip-hop dancer and choreographer, eventually founding the Ladies of Hip-Hop Festival and directing the New York City chapter of Everybody Dance Now!. Over the decades, she has experienced hip hop's growth from its roots in the black community into a global phenomenon—a trajectory she views with both pride and caution.
On one hand, the popularity of hip hop has "made a global impact," says Byrd-McPhee. "It's provided a voice for so many people around the world." The downside is "it's used globally in ways that the people who made the culture don't benefit from it."
Just four years ago, the University of Southern California's Glorya Kaufman School of Dance welcomed its first class of BFA students. The program—which boasts world-class faculty and a revolutionary approach to training focused on collaboration and hybridity—immediately established itself as one of the country's most prestigious and most innovative.
Now, the first graduating class is entering the dance field. Here, six of the 33 graduates share what they're doing post-grad, what made their experience at USC Kaufman so meaningful and how it prepared them for their next steps:
Every dancer knows there's as much magic taking place backstage as there is in what the audience sees onstage. Behind the scenes, it takes a village, says American Ballet Theatre's wig and makeup supervisor, Rena Most. With wig and makeup preparations happening in a studio of their own as the dancers rehearse, Most and her team work to make sure not a single detail is lost.
Dance Magazine recently spoke to Most to find out what actually goes into the hair and makeup looks audiences see on the ABT stage.