Frank Conversations About Making a Living in Dance

Frank Conversations About Making a Living in Dance

You mean that people who have supported you would hear it and think —

I was scared that I was never going to get a grant again and that I was going to be seen as a whiny person — which I’m always scared of. But cranky is part of the brand. Cranky with humor and gratitude and love.

That’s always been my thing: Part of love is criticism, you know? You can offer criticism with care and the hopes of inviting a paradigm shift. I’m not out here to just set everything on fire and walk away. I’m interested in the conversation. And I also understand the way in which we are all implicated and enmeshed in this thing, and there’s not a simple solution.

If you could create a utopia for dance artists, what are some things we might find there?

Well, first there would have to be a change in society about all low-income workers, a sense of solidarity across the board. There would be universal health care, rent stabilization, eviction moratoriums forever, universal basic income of some kind, free public education, loan forgiveness. We’d be living in a country that was excited about supporting its citizens.

Then there would be multiyear support, so you’re not trapped in a project-based funding cycle; you’re just allowed to do your work for X amount of time, however it manifests. And there would be a common application for grants, like for college. You could just plug in your one paragraph and maybe your budget, and the funders would have to compete with each other to support the project.

That’s a good one.

So, stuff like that. I wish there was a review committee so that every time something like the Shed is conceived of, we could be like, “Actually, let’s give this ridiculous amount of money to the gazillion organizations that already exist and are strapped for funds.” We don’t need new venues in New York; we need to give more money to the ones that exist.

There are probably much more holistic ways of thinking than I’m coming up with, but at heart, I’m profoundly a Taurus, and I’m like, “Where’s the check? Where’s the direct deposit?” I am thinking about how this exists on the ground for the world we’re living in. Yes, the better world may come, and I want that world to come. But we’re now in this one.

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