Inventing the Dance “Micro Tour”

USF Dance’s Andee Scott creates unique collaboration to introduce new dance work; “Sola” premieres Aug. 29 & 30 and goes on the road.

The founder of Dance Linkages, Andee Scott, USF Dance.   Photo by Dutch Rall               

By Barbara Melendez

     USF News

TAMPA, Fla. (Aug. 26, 2014 – USF School of Theatre & Dance Faculty member Andee Scott really knows how to get things moving.

“Whenever I start anything, I ask, ‘What do I want?’”

It turned out, more than one thing.

“I want to dance. I want to work with choreographers I respect. I want to travel.’”

Scott rehearsing for her contribution to "Sola, an Evening of Solo Dances."                            Photo by Sharon McCaman

Once she knew what she wanted, she got moving.

Scott’s answers gave birth to her newest project, Dance Linkages, and its premiere production “Sola, an Evening of Solo Dances, an Evening of Solo Dances,” for and by women, which premieres Aug. 29 and 30 in Theatre 2 at 8 p.m.

Between Scott’s original question and what resulted in Dance Linkages, she took stock of her circumstances and considered what would work best.

“I’m a dancer at a university at a time of limited resources.” This was also true of the people with whom she wanted to work – all university-based like her. But that harsh reality didn’t deter her. On the plus side, each was a woman Scott respects enormously and each was someone she could “count on to produce.”

But how to bring them together with all the inherent limitations?

Ordinarily, dancers have to belong to a company and get booked through venues in a performing network or circuit.

USF Dance faculty member Bliss Kholmeyer.

“With the reduction of concert halls, dance companies are not taking risks and experimental ideas,” said Scott, noting that this climate exists in stark contrast with the 1980s bubble that saw dance companies flourishing just about everywhere.

There’s also the way dancers see themselves professionally.

“In dance we have a divide, those in the field and those in academia – but still in the field,” she said. “As we tell our students here at USF, we’re not only preparing them, they are the field.” Understanding this reminded Scott that just as she tells students they “have the power to invent,” so did she. That meant “letting go of assumptions, looking toward possibility.” For her, the entire project would become “a gesture toward possibility.”

And so Scott found herself looking for a new model that responded to the scarcity of venues. Her first discovery was that she wasn’t alone which led her to the central guiding principle of Dance Linkages, “We’re stronger together. There’s room for all. There’s space for all. We each build on what we have and consequently can be more inclusive.

           Tzveta Kassabova, University of New Hampshire.

“It occurred to me that we could pool our resources. We could each teach master classes and perform at each other’s schools.”

And thus came into being her new concept of the “micro tour.” Scott observed, “There’s microfinancing, why not a similar concept, a way to move from local to global?”

The five other artists who heard the idea said, “yes,” without hesitation and they will come together at five universities, two of them at USF.

In addition to Scott, the roster includes Amy Chavasse, from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; Tzveta Kassabova, University of New Hampshire; Pam Pietro, NYU Tisch School of the Arts; Mary Williford-Shade, Texas Woman's University and another of USF's School of Dance faculty, Bliss Kohlmyer.

Mary Williford-Shade, Texas Women's University

Each will perform a solo work, five created specifically for this premiere and they will teach master classes open to dance majors. During the tour, each hosting institution will produce the  performance, directed by the Sola artist, who will also coordinate master classes in conjunction with the event.

Amy Chavasse, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.                 Photo by Stephen Scheiber

After “Sola, an Evening of Solo Dances” premieres it will tour to each artist's "home" institutions through the spring of 2015.

With this contemporary network of artists connecting across disciplines, “the students benefit, we benefit, the audiences benefit, the work benefits – in the most efficient ways,” Scott said.

“This model is more of a consortium where we bring our pieces together at each person’s home base.” Instead of having to book a concert hall as an independent, with no funding, “we each have five opportunities to connect with new audiences and each other.”

In this case, connecting means the visiting faculty will stay with their hosts. No expensive or cheap hotels; there’s no budget for that. “This model actually supports having real relationships which is important to me as a human being. The work is nothing if we don’t become better people,” Scott said.

“I want to build Dance Linkages as a way to bring artists together to create, perform and tour new work based on the idea that we’re more together, more voices, more possibilities. In the end, it’s all about connecting people, ideas, places.”

Pam Pietro, NYU Tisch School of the Arts

One of the connections in this case is that all the choreographers are women.

“It’s really important historically,” Scott said. “We’re following a long tradition pioneered by Isadora Duncan, Loie Fuller and Martha Graham. This is truly exciting.”

Advance purchase tickets are $8 for students and seniors and $12 for general admission. Day of purchase tickets are $10 for students and seniors and $15 for general admission. For more information contact the box office at (813) 974-2323.

Barbara Melendez can be reached at 813-974-4563