Rhythm & Roots: Denver Art Museum Explores American Dance History

The Denver Art Museum presents “Dance!” this month, a summer-long program celebrating dance history in the United States. Dance-focused exhibitions, local artist collaborations and interactive installations are all designed to create an immersive experience. Activities are built around two major exhibits, and the museum has worked with the local dance community to make them come alive.

Beginning July 10, visitors will be able to trace a sequence of dance steps inspired by iconic American dance films in the installation #dancelab, choreographed by local dance company Wonderbound. Participants’ steps will be projected and combined with others taking part and shared via social media.

Visitors can also explore different dance techniques and mediums in Movement Studio, which has three separate hands-on activity areas for experimenting and hosts demonstrations each weekend, beginning June 4.

Mohawk artist Alan Michelson’s Round Dance video art installation will bring participants into a dancing circle as social protest for a tribe’s right to govern itself without U.S. government interference. It’s part of the larger resident exhibit “Why We Dance: American Indian Art in Motion” (May 29–August 15), which showcases works that present the motives behind Native American dance.

“Dance is essential to native people; it is one of the universal cultural expressions that we all share,” says guest curator Russ Tallchief, great-nephew of Osage ballerinas Maria and Marjorie Tallchief. Paintings and drawings illustrate animal dances, healing dances and rites of passage primarily found in the Plains region and the American Southwest. Native dance regalia on display, Tallchief says, “provide the visitor with a deeper understanding of the symbolism in the construct, design and adornment of what the dancers wear and why.”

From top: Denver-based company Wonderbound; Allan
Houser’s Apache Crown Dance; William H. Johnson’s Jitterbugs.

The other major exhibit spanning the summer, “Rhythm and Roots: Dance in American Art” (July 10–October 2), illustrates how American dance evolved from the private sphere to the public stage. About 90 paintings, photographs, sculptures, costumes, video, music and interactive spaces relate to American dance from 1830 to 1960.

The traveling exhibit was organized by and had its premiere at the Detroit Institute of Arts. “The opportunity to host ‘Rhythm and Roots’ is what inspired us to activate the whole campus around the theme of dance and explore the different ways artists respond to this creative artform,” says Angelica Daneo, curator of painting and sculpture.

Free dance performances will also be held during the summer on Martin Plaza outside the museum. DT

For more: denverartmuseum.org

Hannah Maria Hayes is a frequent contributor to Dance Teacher.

Wonderbound photo by Amanda Tipton; all photos courtesy of Denver Art Museum

Teacher Voices
Photo courtesy Rhee Gold Company

Since the start of the COVID-19 crisis, there has been a shift in our community that is so impressive that the impact could last long into our future. Although required school closures have hit the dance education field hard, what if, when looking back on this time, we see that it's been an incredible renaissance for dance educators, studio owners and the young dancers in our charge?

How could that be, you ask?

Keep reading... Show less
Teachers Trending
Photo by Yvonne M. Portra, courtesy Faulkner

It's a Wednesday in May, and 14 Stanford University advanced modern ­dance students are logged on to Zoom, each practicing a socially distanced duet with an imaginary person. "Think about the quality of their personality and the type of duet you might have," says their instructor Katie Faulkner, "but also their surface area and how you'd relate to them in space." Amid dorm rooms, living rooms, dining rooms and backyards, the dancers make do with cramped quarters and dodge furniture as they twist, curve, stretch and intertwine with their imaginary partners.

Keep reading... Show less
Music
Getty Images

Securing the correct music licensing for your studio is an important step in creating a financially sound business. "Music licensing is something studio owners seem to either embrace or ignore completely," says Clint Salter, CEO and founder of the Dance Studio Owners Association. While it may seem like it's a situation in which it's easier to ask for forgiveness rather than permission—that is, to wait until you're approached by a music-rights organization before purchasing a license—Salter disagrees, citing Peloton, the exercise company that produces streaming at-home workouts. In February, Peloton settled a music-licensing suit with the National Music Publishers' Association out-of-court for an undisclosed amount. Originally, NMPA had sought $300 million in damages from Peloton. "It can get extremely expensive," says Salter. "It's not worth it for a studio to get caught up in that."

As you continue to explore a hybrid online/in-person version of your class schedule, it's crucial that your music licenses include coverage for livestreamed instruction—which comes with its own particular requirements. Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about music licensing—in both normal times and COVID times—as well as some safe music bets that won't pose any issues.

Keep reading... Show less

Get Dance Business Weekly in your inbox

Sign Up Used in accordance with our Privacy Policy.