There is a Japanese proverb that says: “We’re fools whether we dance or not, so we might as well dance.” To that we would add “We might as well dance – and support our region’s modern dance company.”
By Jane Rosenthal Cafritz and Georgiana Warner
Photo Credit by Zain Shah
“Dancing,” said the 17th-century English poet John Dryden, “is the poetry of the foot.” It is hard to imagine life without poetry or dance or, for that matter, music, theater or the visual arts.
Yet the arts are oftentimes the first funding to get cut in challenging economic times. As longtime supporters of the arts in general and dance in particular, we find this trend alarming. When we learned last fall that our region’s premier modern dance company – Dana Tai Soon Burgess & Co. – would not be receiving a critical grant from the DC Commission on Arts and Humanities, we knew we had to act, and act quickly. Those funds meant the difference between the company presenting its annual spring concert, or not.
For us, it was hard to imagine a season without DTSB & Co., called the “poet laureate of Washington dance” by Washington Post dance critic Sarah Kaufman. Dana has for two decades exposed local, national and international audiences to his unique fusion of contemporary dance, ballet lines, martial arts style and gesture and visual arts, receiving critical acclaim for synthesizing Eastern and Western aesthetics. In addition to performing locally at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Dance Place, Smithsonian Institution, Corcoran Gallery of Art and historic Lincoln Theatre, DTSB & Co. has performed at the Jack H. Skirball Center for the Performing Arts, La MaMa and Asia Society in New York City. The choreographer has also served for 16 years as a U.S. State Department cultural ambassador, traveling with his company to Chile, Ecuador, Egypt, India, Israel, Korea, Latvia, Mexico, Mongolia, Panama, Peru, and Venezuela.
As dance patrons who support not only DTSB & Co. but also the Washington Ballet, we were determined that this region would continue to enjoy a variety of home-grown companies that enrich our lives and our community. With that in mind, we formed the region’s first Dance Giving Circle to raise critical funds to allow DTSB & Co. to move forward with plans for its 20’th anniversary spring performance. Not surprisingly, individuals and organizations who share our passion for dance and for Dana’s company quickly stepped in. Those who joined us as inaugural members of the Dance Giving Circle are: Mary and Robert Eccles, Joseph W. Keampfer Jr. Trust, Sheri Rosenfeld, The Marion and Robert Rosenthal Family Foundation, Deborah Sams and Ray Sczudlo, Daniel Schuman, the Wells Fargo Foundation, the Cherry Blossom Giving Circle, Comcast, Ian Tai Kyung Burgess and Dana Tai Soon Burgess. To date, we have raised more than $50,000. (The spring concert is this weekend, April 5 and 6, at 8 p.m. at The George Washington University Dorothy Betts Marvin Theatre. To purchase tickers, click here, or contact 202-297-2436 for more information.)
Costs associated with presenting dance in our region continue to rise at the same time that government funding continues to decline. The Dance Giving Circle is a way for individuals and organizations to pool our funds in support of our own poet laureate of dance.
For more information about the Dance Giving Circle, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jane Rosenthal Cafritz and Georgiana Warner are co-chairs of the Dana Tai Soon Burgess Dance Giving Circle.