What Is The NYS DanceForce?
The New York State DanceForce is a statewide network of arts activists working to increase the quality and quantity of dance activity across the state. The DanceForce strives to develop audiences and create opportunities for dance artists by connecting artists and communities in meaningful ways. We employ a unique organizational model that values long-term partnerships, dependable annual funding, and the vision of individuals who are passionate about dance.
The concept of the DanceForce first emerged in the mid 1990s, when David White (Dance Theater Workshop), Ivan Sygoda of Pentacle, Beverly D’Anne (Director of the New York State Council on the Arts Dance Program), and several other key dance activists got together in order to find ways of increasing the flow of dance around New York State—particularly between New York City and the upstate regions. The DanceForce is currently comprised of nineteen members, and is managed by Director Curt Steinzor.
Legalese: The DanceForce operates as a program of American Dance Asylum, Inc., a 501(c)(3) dance service organization based in Corning, NY. American Dance Asylum has received annual funding from the NYSCA Dance Program in order to support the DanceForce program.
Where Is The DanceForce?
The DanceForce is truly a statewide network. The nineteen DanceForce members live and work in communities including Manhattan, Queens, Long Island, the Hudson Valley, the Capital Region, the Mohawk Valley, Oswego, Ithaca, Geneva, Brockport, Buffalo, and Chautauqua County. DanceForce members often extend their projects beyond their home communities, resulting in coverage of many counties in New York State.
How Does It Work?
Each year, DanceForce members are allocated an equal amount—historically between $6,000 and $10,000 each—to use for designing, planning, and implementing one or more projects that bring dance artists to their community. Members have complete discretion over the scope and content of these projects, as long as they conform to the overall mission of the DanceForce. Members often engage local partners as they plan, fund, and implement projects, leveraging additional funds from corporations, foundations, individuals, and government agencies. The NYSCA Dance Program has been a key supporter of the DanceForce. The DanceForce has also been supported by funds from JP Morgan Chase, Philip Morris, the Altria Group, and other private foundations and individuals.
How Are Members Chosen?
The effectiveness of the DanceForce emanates in large part from the fact that its members function as individuals, not organizations. The vitality and breadth of the state’s current dance landscape owes much to the energy, expertise, and commitment these people have contributed. Because of this, the DanceForce strives to maintain stability and foster long-term relationships among its members.
When a vacancy does occur, we issue a statewide call to identify potential candidates. Representation of the entire state in all its geographic, ethnic, and cultural diversity is an important criterion for the overall organization. We also strive to maintain a mix of viewpoints and expertise, including dance artists, presenters, teachers, administrators, and freelance advocates.
How Can I Get Involved with the DanceForce?
The “point persons” for DanceForce projects are our nineteen members who live and work in communities throughout the state. Their contact info is listed on the DanceForce website at danceforce.org/members. Whether you’re looking to be an artist partner, a community partner, or audience member, the first step is to contact them. Find out what they’re doing and what their plans are for the future. DanceForce members are always thinking ahead and open to ideas for new projects.
What Do I Have To Do When?
DanceForce members’ projects run on a seasonal cycle; it’s good to be aware of this before approaching them with project proposals. It’s a good idea to focus on what you can bring to a project or partnership, in addition to what you might get out of it. Each member submits a proposal at the end of January for projects that will begin sometime after July 1 of that year and end before June 30 of the following year. So it’s best to contact members well in advance; turning a visionary project idea into a concrete proposal takes time, especially for new partnerships.