I’m thrilled to share a Q & A with Beth Fein who is the creator of Dance Anywhere. These type of participatory dance events are near and dear to my heart. (Years ago I co-founded a dance festival in Dallas called Dance for the Planet which is now in its 15th year.) Beth has provided a terrific opportunity to feel the power and joy of DANCING with others across the planet on March 18.
Tell us a bit about the back-story behind Dance Anywhere? What was your initial inspiration to create this event?
I first got the idea for dance anywhere® coming home from a dance concert with some friends who are also dancers. We were talking about the evening’s performance. I mentioned in the conversation, “what if we all just stopped and danced anywhere – all at the same time?” One of my friends jumped on it and said why don’t you do it?
The first year for Dance Anywhere was in 2005; how has it evolved over the years?
Well the first-year of dance anywhere® was in 2005, and we didn’t have Facebook or YouTube. So mostly, it was just by email, word-of-mouth and print media. We had dancers mostly in California but also in New Jersey, Mississippi, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. By 2006 we started to have dancers in more states and dance anywhere® began to go international with dancers in Ireland, France, and Spain. Each successive year it has grown, until last year we had dancers on 6 continents, 27 countries and 316 cities (that we know of- there could have been more!). We have the word out — we want to find someone on the South Pole to dance this year and make it 7 continents! Any ideas?
What do you think is the greatest gift for people who participate in Dance Anywhere?
The greatest gift for people participating in dance anywhere® is the sheer joy of dancing; and the fact that they may be in an unusual setting just adds to the enjoyment. I also think there is a sense of empowerment it gives you, to realize you can create something from just an idea. It also offers a sense of community: you can dance with friends and family who are in another city, state or country, and at the same time you are also dancing with a large community of people you have never met in all parts of the world.
In your opinion, what do you think holds people back from expressing their inner dancer?
For some people, they may have an idea that they can’t dance or they aren’t good dancers. But, we all live in our bodies, and we all move — whether it is to music or just as we move through our day — from just ordinary daily activities such as walking, working on a computer or eating lunch. Any of those activities can become a dance if we bring awareness to our movement and take the time to enjoy how we are moving. Some people may think that they won’t be in a good place to dance, perhaps at work or traveling, but honestly “anywhere” is just that. One of my favorite videos is of dancers dancing in a taxi in Istanbul. Who says there are limits to where you can dance?
dance anywhere® is really about the joy of dance that we all had at some time when we were kids.
You are both a visual artist and a dancer, how do you weave these two art forms together?
The most obvious answer is that I end up with so many amazing pictures and videos that inspire me in my visual art. There are also a lot of similarities between the creative processes. There is a crossover in the thought process and the actual art practice in different media. They are not necessarily separate. It all starts with a vision or an idea. I may change the media I work in, but my work evolves in similar ways.
Who or what has been your greatest source of inspiration?
Hard to say what my greatest source of inspiration is. The more work I do, the more ideas I have for new work. I have a huge “backlog” of what I call my “art ideas” –- more ideas than I think I’ll ever have time for. Maybe it comes from a willingness to be playful, allow things to happen and respond to them.
What has been a guiding principle for you in your creative process?
I don’t know if I have a guiding principle for my creative process, but I feel compelled to create. I think it’s an inner compulsion, a need to express what I see, hear and feel. From that point of observation, intellectual honesty is probably my starting point. I also believe almost any idea is worth a trial, that rules are meant to be tested and revised.
How do you shift from those moments of feeling creatively stuck to letting the creative juices flow?
I like to work on more than one project at a time. If I meet a point of indecision, I might walk around in a circle or I might work on another project altogether and let the first one work itself out in my subconscious. Sometimes, I need to let my work rest and come back to it with fresh eyes. I might talk about the work with a friend, but mostly I just need to let the work play out in its own time.
Anything else you’d like to share?
I think everyone has creativity in them. It is part of being a human being. Finding one’s personal relationship with that inner self is essential to our lives. The art is in the attention, and the awareness we bring to whatever task we have at hand. For artists, I think things are changing a lot, socially, economically and with ever changing technology. The challenge for artists is to continue to find ways to make their work (despite hard times) and also find new ways to share it.
Tell us how to participate in Dance Anywhere.
Participating in dance anywhere is really easy. Just go to the website: http://www.danceanywhere.org/ and click on “participate.” You will be guided to create your own page with your information about your plans and this will also put you on the dance anywhere® map. You can then easily share your particular event with your friends.
1. remember to dance on March 18th
2. in your time zone
3. take photos & video (bring a friend along for this)
4. after you dance, go to the website to upload your dance anywhere® photos & video
If there are privacy issues (with school age kids) send us a drawing or a written observation or even a poem.
Beth Fein is a graduate of CCAC. She is a printmaker, conceptual artist, performer. sculptor, ceramist and jeweler. Her art has been displayed in galleries and museums across the country, including New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Washington DC, San Francisco and many other locations. Currently, Beth is an Artist-in-Residence at KALA Art institute in Berkeley, CA.