Dance permeated my childhood and studying dance imparted many important life skills to me.
The ability to empathize and appreciate another’s culture and viewpoint. The ability to work within a group. The ability to adapt and problem solve, often on the fly. Dance gave me an appreciation for history and the collaboration between artists of many walks — musicians, painters, designers, and of course, choreographers.
Our national economy crashed just as I was on the verge of my budding career as a dance educator. The funding cuts that followed decimated many of the small town dance programs that made me the person that I am today. After years of working in a metropolitan environment in Boston, I was struck by the stark contrast of the average student’s experience with the arts compared to that of my hometown counterparts in suburban New Hampshire. Even the most disadvantaged districts in Boston had access to the finest cultural institutions, while the programs that had once served me so well no longer existed.
I did some digging, and found the following statistics:
“Only 10 percent of grant dollars made to support the arts (such as visual arts, performing arts and museums) explicitly benefit the poor, ethnic and racial minorities, the elderly and other marginalized populations. Less than 4 percent of grants dollars support advancing social justice goals through the arts.
Further, 55 percent of arts grants go to organizations with budgets greater than $5 million, which represent less than 2 percent of the more than 100,000 arts and culture nonprofits. Recent research demonstrates that the primary audience of these large institutions is predominantly white and upper-income.”
My personal definition of an artist is: a person who commits radical actions or affects radical change. Throughout history, artists have flocked to major urban centers such as Paris, London and New York — because that is where an individual could have the biggest impact. Urban centers, at one time the crossroads of the globe, were the places where one could stand on the biggest soap box and yell into the biggest microphone. How we fund our art institutions today still reflects this history, but times have drastically changed.
Dance is one of the most underfunded art forms in the United States. Without radical action, it is at risk of disappearing from our cultural landscape. I choose to make dance in a suburban New Hampshire community because I want to affect change. I am committed to creating work that builds community around the art of dance right here in New Hampshire. It is radical to NOT pursue a choreography career in New York City. Today the biggest soapbox in the world is not there, not in London, not in Paris, but online.
I make dance to connect. I want to connect with people who want to see dance. I want to connect with people who want to learn how to dance. I want to connect with people who make dance. I know that there are dancemakers, just like me, doing amazing things in Iowa, Oregon, Kansas, Maine, etc. I believe that collectively and collaboratively, we can create best practices for companies like Neoteric Dance Collaborative to thrive outside of urban areas. Together, we can demonstrate that dance is an integral part of our culture in every corner of the United States and by coming together, ensure a future for the art of dance in our nation.
—Sarah Duclos, Founding Artistic Director