Sunday, November 30, 2014

In case you missed it

Hey there,

So I thought I'd try doing a new kind of blog post. I share so much on various social networks, but the half-life for content on any of those, just have to get over the fact that you will miss things and can't see everything.

That being said, here are highlights of links I've posted over the past week for one reason or another, all in one place. In case you missed it, in no particular order.
One more video, the one that I thought would break the internet, the Star Wars Teaser Trailer for Episode VII.

And a mix of a DJ I saw last night at Echostage, Rob Garza of Thievery Corporation.

That's it. Curious to see what you think, what you missed, what you saw.

Or if we're not connected at all and you just happened to come across this post.

Let me know what you'd like to see more of!!


Monday, November 24, 2014

If you could see privilege...

...what would it look like?

For some reason, that is a question which my Facebook news feed has answered twice over the past week. The timing is particularly eerie as I am helping with a video project on exploring the topic of diversity at Burning Man, and privilege being one of the issues and topics that comes up.

Regardless, I wanted to share several examples in order of increasing effectiveness for me.

The first one is one that actually came up when I google'd "cartoon privilege" for one more example to round out the other two.

The only problem is that as it's oversimplified history and groups of people into a single interaction between two people, the challenge is how to have an engaging dialogue about a multifaceted and complex issue, which leads to definitive actions with measurable outcomes.

By the way, if anyone knows the artist of the cartoon above, please let me know? The image is used so much that trying to google its creator was not yielding any results.

This next comic, while a bit better, still has an illogical statement. I don't want to repost it without permission, but you can see the cartoon with some context at Everyday Feminism.

My problem is the supposed conclusion of the exchange is with the "white male" pointing out his own burden, and it seemingly the conclusion that there's no way for the others to convince him of the fact that their own backpacks are considerably bigger, by virtue of the fact that he doesn't even notice the difference himself; the mere presence of his own backpack to bear is enough.

And this leads me to the third visualization...less of a cartoon, and more of an exercise. This one, I have to thank Buzzfeed for, "This Teacher Taught His Class A Powerful Lesson About Privilege".

The gist of it is that everyone sitting in a class can move up from their own class if they get a crumpled piece of paper into a bin at the front.

Human nature unfortunately leaves us relatively aware of our backspace, much less anything behind it. So folks from the front of the class, while they have their own challenge to make the shot, don't realize much less think about how much more difficult it is for those farther and farther back to do the same. But it is painfully obvious for those towards the back and especially those in the back of the advantage others have and their own disadvantage.

You can read about the exercise more in depth Buzzfeed. But what I appreciate about that exercise is that while physically demonstrating the challenge of working with different privilege, it also illustrates the challenge of having a conversation about it as everyone isn't coming to the table from the same perspective.

Anyway, just wanted to share. Are there any favorite visualizations, from comics to exercise, that you think have helped you and others understand and talk about privilege?

Please share in the comments,


Sunday, November 23, 2014

Modern dancing with the pop stars

Hey there,

So as someone who majored in modern dance (which isn't always what some people think it is), I love seeing contemporary choreography in the music videos of pop stars.

While I used contemporary and modern somewhat interchangeably, here is a definition of modern dance, from Wikipedia:
Modern dance is a style of western concert dance which began loosely in the late 19th century and early 20th-century. Modern dance, which has birthplaces in the United States as well as Germany, was a direct response to ballet as the primary form of concert dance. Modern dance refused aspects of classical ballet and broke away from codified movements and balletic narrative structures. Because of early pioneers like Martha Graham, modern dance now encompasses a wide range of styles, many of which are associated with renowned schools and masters. There are over a thousand Types of Modern Dance including the Graham and Horton techniques. Eventually, postmodern dance would reject the formalism of modern dance and include elements such as performance art, contact improvisation, floor work, release-technique, and improvisation.

So for me, the choreography in these videos stands out from other music video choreography because it's less literal and more abstract in it's movement vocabulary and motifs. It's less of a direct visualization of the music, and rather works in conjunction with the song to create meaning, rather than being dictated by rhythm, melody, and lyrics.

That being said (and I share this with the caveat that I don't watch many music videos to begin with), here are three that have stood out in the past several years. And, weirdly enough, I'm going to share them in the order of the Choreography track at UMD's Dance program, three semester long classes, choreographing for solo, duet, then group.

So first up, a solo. It's the music video for Sia's Chandelier:

The  choreography is by Ryan Heffington, and the dancer is Maddie Ziegler (who was born in 2002!!). If you haven't seen the video, you might've seen a Saturday Night Live skit referencing it this past Halloween. And this year, it won the MTV Music Video Award for Best Choreography.

The second video is a duet, the music video for Pink's Try.

The choreography is a collaboration by the Golden Boyz and stunt choreographer, Sebastien Stella. The dancer/love interest is Colte Prattes, who is on the faculty of the Broadway Dance Center. Colte is actually touring with Pink, but as soon as he's back I think I'm going to be planning a road trip up to NYC.

Third and not least is a group piece, the music video for Carrie Underwood's Something in the Water.

The choreography is by Travis Wall, a former So You Think You Can Dance competitor, and the dancers are company members of his dance company, Shaping Sound.

What's HUGE about this is the challenges dance has as an art form, in the south. And the majority of pop music videos tend not to help. You can check out the comments on YouTube for a clear example of this. I remember talking about it in undergrad, and how in many parts of the U.S. south, dance had to be coded as physical activity, just to even be considered as programming, particularly in educational settings.

Which it is, very intense and strenuous physical activity, don't get me wrong. But that's the subject for a whole other post.

What I thought was interesting was that the three pop artist who came to mind were all female. And I wonder how many male pop artists incorporate contemporary and modern dance into any of their music videos.

That being said, if you have any music videos which features modern choreography, please share them in the comments,


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Grantmaker resources, working in the DC arts scene

Hey there,

Just a quick share about three resources for grantmakers which we take advantage of, at the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities:

Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers:

  • "The Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers is a membership association composed of grantmakers in the Greater Washington region - Northern Virginia, suburban Maryland, and the District of Columbia. Our members represent a vibrant cross-section of philanthropy, including family, community, corporate, and independent foundations, as well as corporate giving programs, governmental grantmakers, grantmaking public charities, and individual philanthropists. We provide a variety of services to our members to facilitate more effective, strategic, and efficient grantmaking, thereby making the Greater Washington region a better place to live and work."

Grantmakers in the Arts

  • "The mission of Grantmakers in the Arts (GIA) is to provide leadership and service to advance the use of philanthropic resources on behalf of arts and culture. GIA is the only national association of private and public funders making grants to artists and arts organizations in America. GIA’s strength is in its diversity of members: private, family, community and corporate foundations, national, state and local governmental agencies, nonprofit national, regional and local service organizations. What they all have in common is a belief that America is a better place to live and our communities are stronger when the creativity of artists is prevalent in all aspects of society."

  • "For more than 15 years the GEO community has advanced smarter grantmaking practices that enable nonprofits to grow stronger and more effective. As a result, GEO members consistently outpace other funders in terms of making productive changes to help nonprofits achieve more — such as providing support for grantee capacity building, engaging external voices in decision-making, giving multiyear grants, forming strategic partnerships and funding collaboration among grantees."

Just thought I'd share, for any other grantmakers out there, hopefully you'll find at least one of these useful, if you're not already a member.

And as new members to the latter two, I'm looking forward to taking advantage of their programs and learning more.

Any other similar organizations you'd recommend? Please share in the comments!!