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Economy & Business

Spring to Dance offers variety, economy

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, May 18, 2009 - You can't go more than a day without reading about another art organization cutting wages or personnel in an effort to sustain during this turbulent economic climate. Even heavily supported institutions in New York City and Chicago are cutting back to avoid layoffs. After all, there are no bailouts for the arts.  

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This Memorial Day weekend marks the second year for our Spring to Dance festival presented by Dance STL. Thirty dance companies from across the nation and St. Louis will converge on the Touhill Performing Arts Center to expose our community to all forms of dance ranging from ballet, contemporary, jazz and hip-hop.

For the companies involved, it's an opportunity to perform while promoting the art of dance. For audiences, people will receive quality music and movement at an affordable cost. Each evening's performance costs patrons $10. And each night offers 10 performances.

"I think thanks are due to our board of directors that are committed to making dance accessible to all and not the few and privileged," says DANCE STL Director Michael Uthoff, "It is our hope to hold the prices for a couple of years and we are in part able to do so because of the generous contribution of foundations, corporations and individuals."

The event broke box office records in 2008 and generated interest and support from people of all ages.

"Spring to Dance and its prototype, Fall for Dance in New York, gain the status of rock shows with cheap seats and high visibility. The variety of companies that people get to see, just as a curiosity for some, has the possibility to engender new fans who might return for other dance performances in the future," says Gus Solomons of New York City's PARADIGM, "That's a valuable incubator for new audiences."

Historically, dance has struggled to sustain and cultivate an audience. Now more than ever, however, patrons are looking for affordable exposure to quality productions.

"I think if they leave themselves open to the power of dance we will developed a very learned and discerning audience," says Uthoff, "I think we have a nucleus, but it is too small. This event will allow for local people to expand their horizons and be challenged by the quality of others."

For information, go to http://springtodance.com/

Christian Cudnik is a freelance writer. 

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