Front-Page News Blues
I suppose we all knew it would come to this. The Mackay Daily Mercury in Queensland, Australia, ran a front-page story in October when a 10-year-old dancer was cut from a dance company performance due to missed rehearsals.
The story reported some discrepancy regarding exactly when the dancer was told she wouldn’t be participating in the Mackay Eisteddfod, a local talent showcase—the studio director said she contacted the mother more than a week before the show, while the mother claims she was clueless until the day before. But regardless of the dirty details, the little girl’s personal setback became the news of the day, with strangers, friends, and even Grandma name-calling and backbiting through a lengthy comment queue.
Part of me is chuckling, but in all seriousness, attendance has become a major thorn in the side for any studio director trying to field a decent team or company. Everyone has an excuse, a conflict, a “can’t miss” birthday or family member in from out of town. Teachers—and the kids who do show up—are left to finagle lines and patterns, then doomed to endless repeats and questions when the missing kids return.
Some of us know the “joy” of completely re-choreographing a number when a dancer just can’t make a competition, or of dealing with griping from slighted teammates when we’d really just like to join in. During the prep for last year’s middle-school musical, attendance at my dance rehearsals was so horrific that I enacted a new rule—if you show up, you’re in the number; if you don’t, you’re not. The kids wanted to be onstage, so things perked up, but I’m fairly certain that all of the parents hated me.
The Queensland mom said her little girl was practicing at home and trying her best, but although her effort was admirable and better than nothing, that’s never enough. You’ve got to show up and put in the work. The other kids did. The studio director did—and now has been publicly called out as a “bully.” Apparently, that’s what you get when you lay down the law on a slow news day in Australia. —Karen White, Associate Editor
Those Fine Performing Arts
It’s always great news when a fine-arts museum is doing a dance-related exhibit, but when San Francisco’s de Young Museum announced a long-running tribute to one of dance’s most beloved icons, “Rudolf Nureyev: A Life in Dance,” the news just kept getting better.
The beautifully curated exhibit itself—produced with the assistance of Centre national du costume de scène in Moulins, France, and which runs through February 17—is enough to make dance-loving hearts beat a little faster. But the museum, perhaps inspired by Nureyev’s wild devotion to ballet, went a little crazy with related programming for this exhibit. At the members’ opening, museumgoers were treated to a performance by the San Francisco Ballet School Trainees and a screening of The Red Shoes. That morning a discussion titled “The Life and Work of Rudolf Nureyev” had offered fascinating personal remembrances of Nureyev by a panel of heavy-hitters in the ballet world. A week later, SF Ballet principal dancer Tiit Helimets presented a dance tribute to his native Estonia, which included a documentary of a tour, an art film in which dancers became painters, and a live performance.
Over the next few months the museum will host an evening of ballroom dancing; a multimedia presentation, From Tutu to Haute Couture: Costume and the Ballet, with an accompanying fashion show; five separate screenings of eight Nureyev-related films; a series of family dance workshops; and costume-making workshops.
Many of the events are being done in collaboration with SF Ballet, and it’s heartening to see this kind of crossover between the performing and fine arts. If this kind of shared approach to presenting art boosts ballet or museum attendance, I say, “Bravo!” In fact, I’ll jump to my feet and yell, “Encore!” —Cheryl A. Ossola, Editor in Chief