dance, contemporary dance, GroundWorks DanceTheater, APAP 2013, David Shimotakahara, Amy Miller
Q: Where is the future dance audience going to come from?
We're participating in the Cleveland Foundation's new initiative called "Engaging the Future" which has eleven Cleveland-based organizations thinking about audience engagement. We received a grant to develop a new project called "It's Your Move" to reach out and extend our geographic presence.
Q: What's the thought process behind it?
We're thinking about what audience engagement really means and how to go about creating new relationships in the community, relationships that move beyond putting people in the seats. If people don't know dance, what is it about us that they can relate to? How do we interact with them and get them interested in coming to shows? We're looking outside the performances and the traditional educational outreach activities to expand our platform.
Q: What form will "It's Your Move" take?
"It's Your Move" is an interactive video project we will be launching in the next couple of months. It is part of a number of initiatives we are experimenting with to foster new relationships and connect in different ways to new constituents and potential audiences.
Q: How does this fit in with what Groundworks DanceTheater is all about?
There are different ways of engaging people's imagination, their curiosity, their interest. If we're an organization that's about new work, which is at the heart of our mission, then we need to be thought of in a way that connects to new ideas. The core of what we do is always about dance and working with creative people but we want to know what else we can do. I think that is what will sustain the organization in the long term. We need to have an expanded notion of what a cultural organization can be.
Q: What is GroundWorks' strength and what do you think your audiences are responding to?
A truly interesting and diverse range of new works created on this group by some of the most creative voices in dance today and produced here (Cleveland). In addition to the work, the audiences respond to the quality of the artists, the production values, often the intimacy of the venues and sense of a personal relationship to the organization that is cultivated and fostered over time. Humor, resilience.
Q: What is happening with today's dance audience?
It used to be that the traditional direction of the relationship with the audience was one way. The company decided what it was doing and the audience responded. And we thought that it would always be viable. I think that's no longer the case. People want another direction to that relationship. They want to have some say in how and where and when they experience what you have to offer. I think our strength at GroundWorks is that we have always looked at everything pragmatically and have trusted that the rest would follow.
Q: How has your evolution been from performing dancer to artistic director?
When I think about how I thought of dance as a performer versus now, it's just been fantastic. I don't regret anything. What I've learned is beyond what I could ever have imagined.