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Raiford Rogers raising funds for new ballet on Kickstarter

April 17, 2013|By Laura Bleiberg
  • Members of Raiford Rogers Modern Ballet -- Regina Park Suh, left, Bobby Briscoe and Erica de la O -- in a 2012 performance.
Members of Raiford Rogers Modern Ballet -- Regina Park Suh, left, Bobby… (A. Trelease )

Taking a cue from musicians, filmmakers and other independent artists, Los Angeles choreographer Raiford Rogers has launched a $7,500 fundraising campaign on the crowd-sourcing website Kickstarter for his latest ballet, “Schubert’s Silence.”

“As you know, arts funding is getting more and more difficult to find,” Rogers said in a phone interview. “You have to be creative and try different things. We wanted to demonstrate to our board members and our potential sponsors that we’re determined.

"Everybody works pretty much for a stipdend. We’re trying to raise additional monies to pay the dancers a fair salary.”

Rogers said his friend, filmmaker Kerry Candaele, had raised $15,200 in seed money for a feature-length documentary about Beethoven's Ninth Symphony and had been urging Rogers to give Kickstarter a try. Rogers’ project went up on Sunday, and by Tuesday afternoon 13 people had pledged $848. The fundraising campaign will continue until May 14.

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Rogers, who has received two choreographic grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, started his own company in 2002, after the breakup of Los Angeles Chamber Ballet, which he had co-directed for 22 years with Victoria Koenig. Raiford Rogers Modern Ballet performs annually at the Luckman Fine Arts Complex, and “Schubert’s Silence” will premiere there on June 29.

In his Kickstarter video, Rogers describes how his choreography and music are intimately entwined, while scenes from past works are shown in performance. For his new piece, Rogers will be using Franz Schubert’s "haunting" Piano Sonata No.18 in G major, “Fantasie” D. 894. He wants “the dancers to become the music, that they, through their movement, 'sing' the music.”

Dance companies and choreographers seem to be less well-represented than other artists on sites like Kickstarter. But dancers have had some successes there. Backhausdance, based in Orange County, collected more than $14,000 in 2010 so it could fly dancers and staff to Manhattan for its first New York City concerts. Monies that exceed Rogers' goal will be used to pay for additional performances.

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