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L.a. Dance Alliance Dissolves

November 10, 1986|ZAN DUBIN

Los Angeles Area Dance Alliance, formed to serve and support a struggling local dance community, has dissolved after 10 troubled years.

"For all practical purposes, we're out of business," alliance board of directors chairman Cheryl Cromwell said Friday. "We intend to formally file for dissolution (with the state attorney general's office) as soon as we get the paper work together."

An irreversible mix of financial and administrative problems led to the alliance's demise, Cromwell said.

She pointed out that the alliance "had a number of problems in 1985," the year a new "Dance Park" program was added to the alliance's "Dance Kaleidoscope," an annual festival which had presented works by more than 150 dance companies and solo artists since 1979.

"We incurred a lot of debt that year and had to recruit several new board members and a new executive director after Betty Empey (an alliance founder and guiding force) resigned in 1984." (Several dance community members have spoken of an alliance decline after Empey's resignation.)

Cromwell refused to reveal the amount of the alliance's total debts, though she said they were mostly caused by low ticket sales and a board of directors and membership that could neither contribute nor successfully raise substantial funds to augment an average annual operating budget of about $150,000.

Once begun, the dissolution process will take from four to six months, Cromwell said. During part of that time, the alliance will maintain a phone answering machine. The Bay Area Dance Coalition has agreed to send its newsletter with a supplement on Southern California dance activities to alliance members until their memberships expire within the next year.

"This will be a great loss to the community," said choreographer and dancer Marion Scott. "The alliance gave an awful lot of artists, emerging and established, a lot of opportunities to perform."

Scott has danced or presented works in several "Dance Kaleidoscope" festivals, which assumed performance costs most local companies could ill-afford.

Other alliance services included a monthly bulletin with a calendar of local dance events and a video center. A recipient of National Endowment for the Arts grants, it also gained international recognition as a clearinghouse for Los Angeles dance companies.

However, during its existence, the alliance grappled with problems of low visibility and uneven artistic quality for its "Kaleidoscope" programs. Outside of stand-in officers, the alliance has been without an executive director since September, 1985, and it has not published a bulletin for about two months.

Alliance board of directors president Lola Montes said she had "no comment" about the dissolution, except to say that "our offices are not yet closed."

Management at the John Anson Ford Theater in Hollywood said Friday that the alliance, which had rented an office there on a monthly basis since April, 1985, did not pay November's rent.

Cromwell said the alliance does not plan to reorganize or reemerge. There have been rumors within the dance community that the organization might be reborn as an expanded entity serving dance, music and theater.

The dissolution "probably means the state of dance in L.A. is in a very bad way," said former director Empey, now living in Wapiti Valley, Wyo.

"I'm really saddened, because the dance community deserves to have some pride of its own."

Meanwhile, ever since the alliance lost its last executive director, Dee Cappelli, over a year ago, the dance community has tried to do for itself what the alliance apparently no longer could.

Anthony Shay, director of the Avaz International Dance Theatre folk dance troupe, said that about 12 dance companies have formed an informal "operation boot-straps" group, meeting in each others homes to share technical and managerial skills.

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