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!
What happens during a performance is the product of the painstaking process of realizing an artistic vision. Whether held beforehand, afterward, offsite or online, audience discussions tend not to be so preordained, easily thrown off track without a skilled moderator at the helm.
"I'm someone who dreaded talkbacks and Q&As," admits Bill Bragin, former director of public programming at Lincoln Center. "While I was in New York, a lot of the time it was just audience members trying to show off how smart they were."
These events present a pile of difficult questions: How much do you reveal about a piece before it's shown? How can a conversation designed to hit key points feel casual and spontaneous? How do you cater to the needs of diverse attendees, from novice dancegoers to lifelong fans to scholars and critics? And how do you avoid smothering dance with language, flattening all its complexity?
If you think becoming a trainee or apprentice is the only path to gaining experience in a dance company environment, think again.
The University of Arizona, located in the heart of Tucson, acclimates dancers to the pace and rigor of company life while offering all the academic opportunities of a globally-ranked university. If you're looking to get a head-start on your professional dance career—or to just have a college experience that balances company-level training and repertory with rigorous academics—the University of Arizona's undergraduate and graduate programs have myriad opportunites to offer:
Yes, we realize it's only August. But we can't help but to already be musing about all the incredible dance happenings of 2019.
We're getting ready for our annual Readers' Choice feature, and we want to hear from you about the shows you can't stop thinking about, the dance videos that blew your mind and the artists you discovered this year who everyone should know about.
I dance to encourage others. The longer I dance, the more I see that much of my real work is to speak life-giving words to my fellow artists. This is a multidimensionally grueling profession. I count it a privilege to remind my colleagues of how they are bringing beauty into the world through their craft. I recently noticed significant artistic growth in a fellow dancer, and when I verbalized what I saw, he beamed. The impact of positive feedback is deeper than we realize.