|by Isabella Carmenate|
Several years ago the Boston Dance Alliance asked me to be a panelist for an event about touring dance. One of the questions that arose during this conversation was, "how do you define success?" Another panelist measured success in the number of people in attendance, the number of shows performed, and the number of cities visited, etc. As I listened to his answer and watched as choreographers and presenters in the audience nodded in response, I felt hesitant to share my own thoughts on the question. When the microphone was passed to me, I almost chickened out of an honest response.
You see, while I do understand the economic reality of touring and of presenting dance in general, the finances are unrelated to my sense of success. I want engagement...genuine connection that sparks curiosity and creativity. My metrics are harder to track and I think that they often frustrate grant makers. My metrics range from stories from participants to new projects that evolve or doors that open in people's minds or careers. They require time to develop and often tenacity to track down.
It has only been two weeks since Monkeyhouse's Fleur D'Orange residency ended but each day I get more evidence of how deeply it has affected our community. There is no question that it has surpassed my dreams for how it could be successful. To illustrate the impact of the residency, I would like to share some stats and stories.
To create this residency, Monkeyhouse began by brainstorming with our long term partners, Luminarium, Impulse Dance Center, Endicott College, the University of the Middle East Project, JK Photo and J.P. Licks. Based on the encouragement of those supporters, we reached out to seven new collaborating organizations: Center Stage, Brickbottom Artists Association, the Center for Arabic Culture, the Arts at the Armory, the Pingree School, BJ's and Not Your Average Joe's. These 13 partners helped us gather together diverse groups of people for all the events that week; more than 50% of whom were totally new to Monkeyhouse. While that is an impressive statistic for a presenter, it does not reveal the depths of our relationships with these partners. so I would like to offer just a few stories to exemplify their dedication to this project:
1. Both Impulse Dance Center and the Center for Arabic Culture, were so inspired by the Hind and Soufiane's workshops that they actually offered to contribute more funding to the residency than we had initially agreed upon.
2. In addition to proposing our residency idea to the Arts at the Armory, inviting their supporters to all the residency events, and helping to guide our post-show discussion, Luminarium's Kim and Russell Holman stayed until the bitter end of the Sunday night strike. They even volunteered to help get our extremely heavy genie back onto the U-haul.
3. Two members of Endicott's dance faculty, Nikki Sao Pedro-Welch and Mariah Steele, did a phenomenal job promoting their campus workshops to Endicott students and people at other local dance studios. When we realized during tech set up that our projector was not working well enough for Fleur D'Orange's performance, Nikki immediately loaned us one from her department. Nikki even drove one of the campus vans down to the performance to help more of her students attend the show in Somerville.
4. Center Stage and the New England Foundation for the Arts were so excited by the artist presenting artists aspect of our residency that they have asked me to be a panelist on the subject at APAP, the world's largest networking forum and marketplace for performing arts professionals, on January 12th!
Check back in a day or so and I will have some more stories on audience reactions and how the residency inspired at least one new project.