POSTED ON AUGUST 31, 2011:
Tulsa Ballet announces new opportunity for community dance groups
Tulsa Ballet is known around the world for its commitment to fostering new work by up-and-coming choreographers. Its "Creations in Studio K" series, presented every spring, is exclusively devoted to such work.
In a new initiative announced this week, that commitment is about to have a major local impact.
With the support of its board president and senior staff, TB is extending an invitation to local contemporary dance companies and choreographers to be part of its "Creations" series.
Over the past few years, TB artistic director Marcello Angelini has been observing the emergence and growth of Tulsa's modern dance community, in companies like Tulsa Modern Movement, Portico Dans Theatre, Soluna Performing Arts Group, Living Water, and others.
He has been pleased to see that community developing cutting-edge work and building an audience, at the same time as TB is bringing more and more contemporary choreography to its stage.
"Tulsa Ballet covers a vast span of programming, yet the company is not set up to venture into the investigational field. There is space for truly modern dance performances here.
"The wider the dance scene in any given city, the richer the cultural landscape for that community will be," Angelini said. "I feel we are at a pivotal point in Tulsa, a point where dance can become an integral part of the fabric of our community.
"I also feel that TB, as an internationally recognized institution, has a responsibility to foster the growth of other dance companies in the area," he continued.
TB as an organization can't give direct financial support to these local groups, but from a personal and professional point of view Angelini "wanted to find a way that would allow us to help them through this journey" of growing in reach and scope.
"Supporting them through performance opportunities seems to be the best way to help."
The details are still under development, but here's how Angelini and his staff envision the proposal working out. Local modern dance companies and choreographers will be invited to submit work for consideration. The chosen piece (or pieces) will then be presented as an opening act for TB, starting 30 minutes before the "Creations" triple bill.
TB will cover all the costs of the guest companies' performances, including renting the space, rehearsal time on the stage, and technical support like lighting and sound.
"I know many of these organizations are struggling to find the necessary funds to rent a performance space and all the other costs associated with a show," Angelini said, "so we won't charge them anything."
TB patrons will be informed about the opportunity to see the local works before the main show starts. "We can't force our ticket holders to see other dance companies if they buy a ticket to see us," he said, "but we can recommend it."
Angelini noted that although he would love to give every local dance organization the opportunity to be part of this program, artistic and financial constraints make an application process necessary.
Local choreographers who would like to participate will need to submit a DVD of their proposed work, along with a brief written description of the piece and the technical requirements needed to perform it. The piece must be no longer than 15 minutes. The deadline for submissions is October 31, 2011, in order to give TB time to put all the details together before the show in late spring.
For the burgeoning contemporary dance community in Tulsa, this opportunity means the chance to have their work seen by a much wider audience. Angelini estimates that almost 3000 people come to see the Studio K series each year.
It offers TB audiences something, too.
"Offering an up-close look at the kinds of modern dance being created by these companies will provide even more exposure to the art of dance in all forms," Angelini said. "We find that people think they only enjoy classical ballet -- until they come to watch one of our contemporary pieces."
"Besides," he continued, "we all feel this is the right thing to do for the dance community in Tulsa."
Angelini sees this initiative as responding to and furthering a commitment to the arts here generally. "Tulsa is already known as a sophisticated, cultured district," he said. "Encouraging the growth and fostering the development of new and emerging arts organizations will only increase our visibility and reputation for being a unique city.
"And we are unique: where else do you find a metropolitan area of barely one million people that has an excellent opera company, two nationally-known museums, two great orchestras, and a first-rate ballet company, among others?"
Now, along with all that, thanks to the passionate dedication of the choreographers and the innovative vision of Tulsa Ballet, Tulsa will boast local modern dance on a major stage.
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