Praxis Theatre is currently on hiatus! Please find co-founders Aislinn Rose and Michael Wheeler at The Theatre Centre and SpiderWebShow, respectively.
January 24, 2011, by
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Connect TO panel on partnership and collaboration for indie dance

iPhone snapshot of the Connect TO panel at Hub 14 on collaborative strategies for independent dance

by Michael Wheeler

It has taken a week to soak in the experience of moderating a panel with Toronto’s independent dance community to have some clear thoughts to express about it. The stated topic of our conversation at the Connect TO panel at Hub 14 on January 15/11 was:

“Ways to rethink, define and discover strategies for the development and dissemination of contemporary dance work.”

To facilitate a conversation on this topic, I sent our six articulate panelists two questions to address:

1) What partnerships have you seen in the past that have surprised you? These don’t necessarily need to be binding legal partnerships. It could be a perceived alliance or initiative.

2) Leaving practical concerns aside – in your wildest imagination – what sorts of collaboration would you like to see in the future?

There were some fantastic answers to these questions and they varied as widely as the breadth of experience of the panelists. Answers to number one included praise for both labour unions and banks for engaging in surprising and inspiring partnerships with the dance artists, and answers to number two included a desire for a new creation space and increased touring networks to maximize the life and appeal of the work that is being created.

After this we opened up the conversation to the forty or so other members of the dance community in attendance. We began by discussing the concept of “entrepreneurship” in the context of live performance, but getting bogged down in economic issues was not at the top of anyone’s list, so we ended discussing artistically driven partnerships and how to make the work stronger. Most people seemed to agree that curating a larger and more passionate audience for dance should be some sort of goal.

I concluded by thanking everyone for putting up with my relative ignorance about independent dance and emphasized I was impressed by the artists that had come together to create the Connect TO dance programming forum, which was in itself a successful example of a surprising and unexpected artistic partnership. At that point our two hours were up and many participants took advantage of the coffee, fruit and baked goods to talk less formally about theses sorts of things.

If I did it all over again, I probably would have tried to steer the conversation towards a comment made by panelist Ame Henderson, with regards to the ecology that the dance community comprises. I believe it is a useful term to talk about things like partnership and community. It assumes that within a healthy ecology there will be major organizations, but also mid-sized ones and independent artists. It is predicated on the idea that they are all related to and have an impact on one another. I also like that within the concept of ecology the whole is as healthy as its individual elements. It makes for less divisive debate.

Overall it was a privilege to be included in an inspiring event. I was pretty blown away my the fact that more than 40 artists and arts professionals from ANY community would show up in a blizzard during an extreme cold weather alert on a Saturday morning to talk about collaborative solutions to anything. If you were present and have any thoughts to add, feel free leave them in the comments. We talked about a lot of stuff and this post is quite a broad overview.

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One comment:

  1. Michael Wheeler says:

    Speaking of collaboration.