Bella Lewitzky, whose dance company is scheduled to present two concerts during the Los Angeles Festival, is sympathetic to concerns facing her colleagues as the Fringe Festival/Los Angeles takes form.
After 21 years of heading a troupe without a home of its own, she is especially aware of dance companies' need to have their own performing spaces.
"I weep at the lack of opportunity for young artists to find a place to be," Lewitzky told The Times after a California Arts Council planning meeting Tuesday. "In my art form, without one there is no survival possible."
Yet, Lewitzky is optimistic for the future of local dance. She said the Dance Gallery, of which she is the founding artistic director, should be fully operational by 1989.
However, the 75,000-square-foot Bunker Hill gallery, with three theaters, isn't likely to solve the housing woes for all of local dance. It will permanently house only the Lewitzky company, according to Darlene Neel, the troupe's associate artistic director. But throughout the year, Neel said, the gallery will pay for concerts by about half of its visiting companies and will rent space at cost to the other half. In its first year the gallery is hoping to present "at least 200 evenings" of dance, she said.
The lack of spaces for dancers "is one reason I so urgently want this vision (the gallery) to get off the ground," stressed Lewitzky, whose company will perform for two weeks annually at the gallery. "It's not meant to house me--my company. It's meant to further dance."
Lewitzky also said she understands the local dance community's concern over having to pay to perform in the Fringe festival--while competing against the Los Angeles Festival.
The Fringe "has a feeling of 'if you can afford it, do it.' Yet, it isn't the primary presentation," she said. "But importantly, I congratulate Bob (Fitzpatrick) for (supporting) the Fringe, because it says 'we know you (the local dance community) are there and we know it's your participation that makes the whole city a celebration.' "
How does she feel about Fringe Director Aaron Paley's suggestion that dance groups scale down the scope of their presentations?
"It's hard for artists to be told 'don't do your best,' " Lewitzky said. "But it at least addresses a need and tries to help. The alternative would be, 'Since we can't fund you . . . we'll have to forget you.' "