Every September, Arts Midwest puts together a conference so presenters from our region, artists from all over the Midwest and agents from all over the country can get together, see the work and like a bazaar, peddle their talent to prospective buyers.
This experience can be exciting, but is often overwhelming. You walk aisles and aisles of agents and artists hoping to catch your eye so they can tell you about their greatness and why they should be the chosen act. Since Dance St. Louis is a dance only presenter, our scope is somewhat more limited as we only look at dance.
Having said that, what I look forward to the most is the showcases where you can see the artists live. However, this time Austin was a real disappointment. Usually artists from the region, which you do not have a chance to see, perform and this past week that was not the case. Most of what I saw I had already seen and at that moment was not interested in seeing. But, the exchange with my peers was energizing and discussions about the future with fellow dance presenters were encouraging.
Having little to see, I went looking for excitement and creativity outside the conference. My very good friend Yacov Sharir, now a Professor Emeritus at UT Austin, is doing some really fascinating work with computer art and dance. I never quite grasped the possibilities but what he is doing certainly makes you look at dance differently. If all works as we plan, his experiments will be shown at our SPRING TO DANCE FESTIVAL 2015 and you, our audience, will get a unique experience.
I was also grateful to Stephen Mills, Artistic Director of Ballet Austin, who allowed me to intrude on one of their rehearsals of this year’s staging of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I had not seen the company but had read much about them. They certainly are a strong and solid company who seems to work effortlessly in these kinds of works. Although, my curiosity is peeked and I would like to see them performing repertory work.
Austin is supposed to be beautiful and have many good restaurants. But, these conventions do not allow you much time to see anything other than a hotel room, the conference hall, the bars where you exchange ideas and perhaps one store that you struggle to find so you can bring to your wife something other than a T-shirt.
All in all, my trip was great because of friends that I have not seen for decades, new work that is fascinating at UT, and the possibilities that Ballet Austin showed.