Tag Archive: Art

Can Art Actually Save the World?

Two dancers from Brooklyn based Urban Dance Women came to speak at UGA, today. In addition to a performance centered mission, this dance troupe has community and human rights focused core values, and define themselves by their work to make the world a better place. This, of course, brings about the question, what can dance, and more specifically, your home-based dance troupe actually do to help your community?

We all know how art helps the community. Art has been proven to decrease violence and crime in communities; it can help you to better absorb information; Art can decrease rates of depression; and can help high risk children graduate from high school. But can art feed the hungry? Can art house the homeless? Can art fight for equal rights? Yes? No? Maybe.

Charity Watch’s index of top rated charities fall into the following categories.Let’s discuss how dance can make an impact.

CONSUMER PROTECTION AND LEGAL AID-This is a difficult topic for a troupe to advocate for when a pressing issue is not directly affecting their community. I hope that in our very anti-establishment troupe, we communicate a very healthy fear of big business and the government. I know I make fun of my fair share of politicians.


ABORTION & REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH POLICY-My dance troupe has been involved in the fight for reproductive justice in the past, but is has mainly been in partnership with an organization focused on the fight for reproductive justice (GRJAN). While directly facilitating abortions or lobbying congress for policy change would not be fitting with our mission, I still believe there’s more we can do. Abortions are highly stigmatized, though 30% of women have or will have one in their lifetime. As dance is a means for storytelling, our job is to tell these stories.
AFRICAN-AMERICAN-History shows that the most effective means of fighting discrimination begins with protests, followed by laws. We stand in solidarity with all of our brothers and sisters fighting for equality, but how does that translate into action? Inclusivity starts in your home troupe. It should look like 50 Shades of Brown Skin when you look at your dance family. Can’t find dancers? Bring your art form to the audience you wish to encourage to join.
AIDS-Once again, my troupe has held benefit shows and raised awareness for this cause. We are publicly sex positive and give out condoms at shows, indirectly encouraging healthy sexual encounters. This is a topic we need to make an effort to be more outspoken on.
ANIMAL & ANIMAL PROTECTION-Despite almost everyone in our troupe owning a pet, we have done nothing to help this cause. A dance troupe could raise funds, raise awareness, volunteer. I’ve long wanted my troupe to get involved in Pets and Wonder, for instance.
BLIND & VISUALLY-IMPAIRED-UBW talked about instructing blind children in dance by describing what each part of their body needed to be doing. This is a wonderful jumping off point.
CANCER-Cancer survivors are actually my troupe’s major project moving forward. Using Pink Light Burlesque as a model, we hope to begin to offer classes to breast cancer survivors, as well as survivors of sexual abuse. In addition to the therapeutic elements of dance, we hope to make a impact in our community by helping others rediscover and own their sexuality.
CHILD PROTECTION-Unfortunately, due to the nature of our performance, we cannot be involved with children, however, working with children may be the most important work that other troupes can do. In addition to ensuring future generations of performers and artists, physical activity and art help students in just about every way possible. No work that a troupe does is more important than working with the next generation.
CONSUMER PROTECTION AND LEGAL AID-This is a difficult topic for a troupe to tackle when a topical incident is not directly affecting their community. I hope in our very anti-establishment troupe, we inspire a healthy fear of the government and big business. I think more of our numbers could tackle some global issues and bring awareness to current events.
CRIME & FIRE PREVENTION-I definitely have my eye on a lot of fire hazards at shows, but how does one prevent crime through dance, aside from working with at risk children? Is that the only way?
DISABLED-We need to be holding workshops and introducing our art to all people.
DRUG & ALCOHOL ABUSE-I’m sure that dance troupes that have not had in-house issues with drugs and alcohol are few and far between. We need to take that expertise out into our communities. Art can be a very helpful means of healing.
ENVIRONMENT-In 2004, Canopy Studio did an evocative show about the tragedies of environmental destruction. Who knows if it resulted in any lifestyle changes, but it’s a great first step.
GUN CONTROL (PRO/CON)-Right now, action on this issue needs to be taking place in our government. While our venue is gun free, as a feminist troupe we have to do more.
HEALTH – GENERAL-Between our medium (dance) and our sexual health positivisity, I feel as though we’re doing a great job of encouraging healthy habits for our audience. However, many of our food involving activities do involve sweets. Perhaps we can work to change that in the future.
HOMELESSNESS & HOUSING-What began this blog post what a thought I had that dance can’t shelter the homeless. Unfortunately, I still don’t have a great idea of what dance can do to help our homeless neighbors. The first step for all of these causes is to partner with a local nonprofit working on the cause and raise money and awareness for them. Perhaps on this issue, this is the best that we can do.
HUMAN RIGHTS-I can proudly say that my troupe is actively fighting for human rights, through our performances, our social media, and our day-to-day actions. I know that any member of my troupe will stand up against injustices in real life, and our numbers will address issues of discrimination. I am fortunate that this has happened naturally thus far and am confident that it will continue to be this way. As far as cultivating this attitude in other troupes, the main reason I believe my troupe is so passionate is because it is a frequent topic of conversation whenever we are all together.
HUMAN SERVICES-Human services seems to fall into the category of dance can’t build houses. Like the homeless issues, align yourself with an organization that can help the injured and provide services in natural disasters, and give them time, money, and volunteers.
HUNGER-Dance can’t feed the hungry, either, but a troupe can hold a food drive. Syrens of the South does an excellent job of serving their local community. Many of their shows offer a ticket discount if an audience member brings a donation for the charity that the shows sponsors. I specifically remember them holding a food drive in their past.
INTERNATIONAL RELIEF & DEVELOPMENT-Frequently, troupes are lucky to be reaching out beyond their community, let alone at a world-wide scale. Yet again, my suggestion is to find an organization working on this cause and offer exposure, funds, and volunteers.
LITERACY-The fight for literacy in America is being fought with our youth–on a elementary, middle, and high school level. Unfortunately, that means that my troupe an only support the mission from afar. We’ve done benefits for our local library and shows celebrating books, but that’s as far as we can go.
SENIOR CITIZENS-Senior citizens need to be at the top of our list of populations to target, along with cancer and sexual violence survivors. Other troupes have done a better job at involving their legends to perform with them, and we need to get on board.
TERMINALLY OR CHRONICALLY ILL-While some people may be too ill to dance, those that are physically able to be involved in our art deserve the opportunity. It is our responsibility to bring such opportunities to them.
VETERANS & MILITARY-Dancing ladies and the military have a long history together. I would love to have my troupe’s thoughts on how to recreate this relationship in our own community.

-found it on DeviantArt-

Para Avanzar by ~jaimecl

Brock Davis decided to make something cool every day for a year and post it in this album. Look through the whole thing, and make sure to read the titles. It’s fascinating, and totally worth the 15-20mins.

Pho†ographer Unknown

Via All Things Amazing

Not to self: Dance underwater more often.


Sometimes PostSecret’s are very in tune with my life.

Captain Sparrow Art

Captain Jack Sparrow by Jprart

Turn [off] the Lights

On the radio the other day, I heard the censored version of Kanye West’s All of the Lights. Normally, I’m indifferent to censorship. I think it’s a bit absurd, but if people feel they need to build a wall between themselves and curse words, well, I feel bad enough for such people that I’m willing to overlook any minor inconveniences it has on my life. Lately, there have been a few song edits that have bothered me. The first is changing the lyric, “Fuck you” in Cee-lo’s Fuck you to “Forget you,” which messes up the rhythm of the chorus. The second is Malaysia’s garbling of “No matter gay, straight or bi, lesbian, transgendered life, I’m on the right track, baby” in Lady Gaga’s Born this Way, which Lady Gaga discusses in her Google interview. The last is, of course, the censoring of “I slap my girl” in All of the Lights.

The chorus, functionally the thesis of most pop songs, metaphorically explains that in order to begin to fix the problems in our society, we need to bring them into the light. The song discusses (in order) prison sentences, infidelity, a lack of father figures, custody battles, unemployment, poverty, and drug use through two first-person perspectives. In the context of the song, all of these problems are related, and they all stem from the narrator “slap[ping his] girl [who] call[s] the feds.” To censor an event in this song defeats the message the song is attempting to convey, and, moreover, perpetuates the major problem the song is discussing.

In order to begin solving these problems, we must begin a public conversation. The unwillingness to put this lyric out on the airwaves, only makes deniability of the problem easier, and further isolates women who are in such situations. Shrouding such a situation in silence gives it a type of power; the only route to solving this problem is through the education and openness that results from public admittance and discussion.


The poorly thought out reasoning behind this censoring seems to be based either on the assumption that if domestic violence is mentioned in music the song is encouraging such acts, or that silence and ignorance will prevent listeners from committing such acts themselves. This thought process is somewhat reminiscent of abstinence only sex education, and is a mindset encountered frequently in the Bible Belt.

I recently had the pleasure of attending a lecture by Junot Diaz, author of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. A fellow audience member asked his why his books are inappropriate for in-class high school reading, though high school aged readers make up his target audience. Diaz launched into an allocution about the separation of art and religion. He discussed our penchant for viewing all art through a religious/moral lens  and the various problems with such a mindset, mainly that art, the purest form of human expression, doesn’t subscribe to morality–just because it’s wrong to feel something, doesn’t mean you don’t feel it. Diaz theorized that morality and religion are based around struggles for power, which art is unconcerned with.

I don’t want to begin the argument of whether the music Kanye West makes is “art”. Regardless of your feelings, the argument can be applied to this song and situation. All of the Lights attempts to make a convincing argument in favor of morality, but that argument is censored to the point that the listener may not know what parts of the song are even about. When your morality is so extreme that it hinders an educated message in its favor, it’s no longer morality, it’s fear, and such a fear is far more dangerous than any topic it’s trying to censor.

Arternate World

Via Shakespeare in Exile

Penguin Train

Art by tahra

I want to go to there

Seriously, I could be very happy in this place.