SCUBA Touring Network is paving the way for mobilizing dance in America. Now in its seventh year, the annual showcase provides a rare opportunity to see dance artists from around the country on the verge of national visibility.
Founded by Velocity Dance Center of Seattle in conjunction with ODC Theater in San Francisco and the Southern Theater in Minneapolis, SCUBA Touring Network is a cooperative enterprise aiming to share the distinct visions of regionally established, nationally emerging dance artists with new audiences. Each year, a panel of local dance experts chooses an artist from each metropolitan region to represent the strength and invention of emerging talent in the area, presenting 20-30 minutes of ambitious new work. In 2007, Philadelphia Dance Projects joined the Network, further extending the geographic and aesthetic reaches of the program.
Since 2002, SCUBA's co-operative approach has demonstrated the successes of a new model for presenting dance at the national level. Committed to grassroots efforts at mobilizing talent, SCUBA provides the opportunity for choreographers and performers to extend the life of pieces that would typically, after weeks of meticulous construction, only to play to a weekend's worth of audiences. The name for the touring program, in fact, comes from the idea that the Network provides the "air" for artists to dive into a whole new sea of possibilities. SCUBA's goal of supporting emerging talents beyond their initial success has received praise and support from the National Endowment for the Arts and has convincingly "demonstrated the breadth of choreographic invention around the country..." (Camille LeFevre, Star Tribune).
Dylan Skybrook, Director of Dance Programming at the Southern Theater, lauds both the chance for Minneapolis' Chris Schlichting to share his work with a national audience and to welcome new points of view to the Twin Cities dance terrain. "SCUBA is great," he says, "because it's a conversation that happens across choreography and geography. It's wonderful that the Southern can facilitate that."
This year's Minneapolis SCUBA performances feature three artists from particularly diverse backgrounds and influences. Minneapolis choreographer Chris Schlichting presents love things, which premiered at the Southern Theater in 2008 as part of the Momentum: New Dance Works series, a co-commission of the Southern and Walker Art Center. In it, he explores lush spheres of memory and pop culture with leaps through an array of American dance heritages.
Philadelphia-based Charles O. Anderson's dance theatre X incorporates African-derived movement and political subversion to investigate the echoes of racial stereotypes and the effects of globalization in TAR and World Headquarters.
In the regional premiere of Milk Traces, Shinichi Iova-Koga, "a young maverick artist so gifted that audiences seem to discover him through natural buzz about his talent" (San Francisco Chronicle), draws on Eastern and contemporary dance dialects to depict the kinetic outline of birth.