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!
Jennifer Kahn knew the theater industry could do better. As a professional stage manager for 17 years she worked on regional, off-Broadway and Broadway shows. Nearly each time a show closed, something unsettling happened: "I would watch them throw away our shows. All of the beautiful artwork by my friends in the paint shop would go in the trash." The elaborate backdrops? Gone.
But she had an idea: What if the material used in the backdrops and legs could be upcycled into something new? And what if theater lovers could literally keep a piece of a beloved show?
"The show must go on" may be a platitude we use to get through everything from costume malfunctions to stormy moods. But when it came to overcoming a literal hurricane, Houston Ballet was buoyed by this mantra to go from devastated to dancing in a matter of weeks—with the help of Harlequin Floors, Houston Ballet's longstanding partner who sprang into action to build new floors in record time.
For decades the name Alicia Alonso has been virtually synonymous with Ballet Nacional de Cuba, the company she co-founded in Havana in 1948. Alonso died on October 17, just shy of what would have been her 99th birthday. In recent years, she had stepped back from day-to-day decision-making in the company. As if preparing for the future, in January, the company's leading ballerina, 42-year-old Viengsay Valdés, was named deputy director, a job that seems to encompass most of the responsibilities of a traditional director. Now, presumably, she will step into her new role as director of the company. Her debut as curator of the repertory comes in November, when the troupe will perform three mixed bills selected by her at the Gran Teatro de la Habana Alicia Alonso. The following has been translated from a conversation conducted in Spanish, Valdés' native tongue.
New York City Ballet principal Sara Mearns wasn't sure she was strong enough. A ballerina who has danced many demanding full-length and contemporary roles, she was about to push herself physically more than she thought was possible.
"I said, 'I can't. My body won't,' " she says. "He told me, 'Yes, it will.' "
She wasn't working with a ballet coach, but with personal trainer Joel Prouty, who was asking her to do squats with a heavier barbell than she'd ever used.