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Counterpunch

Dance Groups Need a Few Good Angels

October 31, 1994|SERENA TRIPI | Serena Tripi is president of the board of directors of the Dance Resource Center of Greater Los Angeles

After reading Martin Bernheimer's commentary ("Balletic Blight Still Plagues L.A.," Calendar, Oct. 16), I felt I should set the record straight on the status of dance in Los Angeles.

Bernheimer seems to think that the end-all and be-all for Los Angeles would be a ballet company. How does he propose we pay for it? And what do we do with the large number of dance companies that already exist? And, may I say, barely exist, in some instances.

The funding community doesn't really have much to do with the smaller dance companies. Individual contributors don't help. It's extremely tough out there. There is a lot more love poured into these organizations than one would imagine. And they don't get the respect, or the audiences, that they deserve. There is much dance to be seen in this city and a family of four does not have to take out a second mortgage just to bring themselves to one of these events.

Los Angeles is filled with numerous cultures and there are dance companies for each and every one; we have tap and jazz, ballet, ethnic, modern and more. A large ballet company could take away the paltry funding that the smaller companies already get. And the money that is received is really not for the creation of art. Funders seem to want artists to use whatever meager funds are given to them to help cure the ills of society. And while we all have a responsibility to the community in which we live, if art is not nurtured, preserved and created for tomorrow, there will be nothing left but graffiti.

There are some of us who want to build a home for artists; a place to expand, experiment and cultivate their craft. Bernheimer wants a big ballet company. Instead, help us raise funds. Take a look around. The big companies are having big problems. This isn't the 1970s or '80s. Before we build a large ballet company for Los Angeles, why don't we first concentrate on how to bring the audiences back into the theater? Where have all the people gone and how are we going to get them back? And, on top of all that, the unions are making it almost impossible to keep the life form that we call the performing arts alive.

Find us an angel for dance and we'll put together the best dance community in the country. The angels exist for theater, opera, music and there must be quite a number of angels supporting that big hole in the ground that is named Disney Hall.

Where is the dollar support for dance? Or is dance becoming elitist like everything else in America? You don't want your name on a board roster unless the company's budget is at least $9 million.

We have good presenters in this town that will bring the big companies to us. Let them do it. But help us build up what we already have, and in the meantime let the general public know that there is more to dance than "Swan Lake" and more to life than "Roseanne" and microwave popcorn.

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