ABOUT THE PROJECT
April MacLean, along with the dancers of Retrograde Dance Company, are taking a two-part approach in using dance a problem-solving tool:
The first project is solely based on using to dance to build empathy and compassion in polarized groups. There are so many divisions that cause grief: racism, sexism, bullying, socio-economic differences, to name a few. So much of our division comes down to a lack of true empathy or understanding. This is an ongoing project that uses dance to tell the story of “The Other”. The formula is simple:
- We choose twenty people, ten on each side of the divide, and record an hour long audio interview with them. Out of this interview we extract approximately three minutes that encapsulate the spirit of the interviewees story. This leaves us with twenty, short audio stories.
- We assign the stories to local choreographers and ask them to create a solo to their assigned story.
- We all gather on a single day and record the solos.
- The solos get played in a public location via a projector on a large space, usually downtown on a large building. The dances are played on a loop, exhibition style. They are also posted on line.
This process solves several problems: First, it builds awareness and empathy. As our interviewees watch their own story unfold through movement, they also watch other stories and discover how similar humans are at their core. It engages new audiences, as people will come out to see their friends “story” when they normally would not choose to see dance. Lastly, it provides work and collaborative opportunity to local dancers and artists as they come together to bring the stories to life.
Our long-term vision is to take this formula nation-wide and potentially international and take a small step in opening the door for humans to connect in a new way.
Our second project is a bit more functional. Dance faces so many problems: it is the most under-consumed art form, and dancers are rarely able to make a decent living, as work is scarce, and they are often asked to things for free. Additionally, so many artists exist in silos, with very little cohesion among artists.
In a tactical approach, starting locally in our hometown, we are on a education and data-gathering mission. By deeply exploring every resource and artist available, we will be creating a website that lists all choreographers, dancers, teachers, performance, venues with performance specs, and more.
Additionally, in January of 2017, we will be launching the first dance Accelerator. As so many artists are content to simply “be creative”, we are taking an intensive approach to create business-savvy artists. The accelerator is a 6 month program that combines a dance technique intensive and an entrepreneurship academy. Dancers learn how to market, manage money and taxes, hone their leadership, prevent injury, develop curriculum, think critically about problem-solving, and more.
We are thrilled about these projects and confident that each will make a tangible and long-term difference in both human relations and the viability of dance.
I live in Riverside, CA where I own and operate Infuse Dance Studio- the Inland Empire’s only dance studio for adults which features both traditional and world dance. I hold a BA in dance and I am the artistic director Retrograde Dance Company.
More importantly, I see dance as an untapped resource for radical change. Dance provides a new language and therapy that holds the potential to shift perspective and provide healing. As a former foster youth, my time in over twenty-two homes left me with such a sense of fear and ongoing trouble connecting both to my own feelings and to other people. Without a doubt, it is dance that has allowed me to process and grow as person.
My mission is to use what I love to make positive change in the world. I see dance being used in so many ways: as booty shaking entertainment or has cerebral, heady works that audiences had trouble connecting with. While I understand there is a place for all kinds of dance and art, I feel personally called to focus on unity, healing, and making dance consumable without being threatening.
Thank you for visiting this page and reading this far. Every dollar given is meaningful. I am adamant about compensating dancers and choreographers for the work they do, along with covering equipment and editing processes. Your donation goes directly to those costs, allowing us to continue our mission.