As with many wonderful things, it started innocently enough, then one man’s passion project took on a life of its own. On his birthday, September 5, 2017, Jeff Slayton gave the SoCal dance community a present with the launch of LA Dance Chronicle as a free, online magazine to provide reviews and coverage of dance in Los Angeles. Starting with support from website designer and co-founder Martin Holman, in a short six years (including one pandemic), LA Dance Chronicle grew from Jeff as the solo writer to a dozen freelance contributors, each with deep dance backgrounds, all working for free for the first years. This shared passion to bring visibility to dance here in Southern California has established LA Dance Chronicle as the place for the most comprehensive coverage of dance from a SoCal perspective.

To mark the beginning of LA Dance Chronicle’s seventh year of publication, the SoCal dance community is thanking Jeff and LA Dance Chronicle in the “9.05” Project. Named for the launch of LA Dance Chronicle on September 5, 2017, the 9.05 Project is both a way to say Happy Birthday to Jeff and to thank LADC for its critical role in spotlighting the choreographers, local companies, and visiting dance ensembles, while at the same time providing a thoughtful guide for audiences looking for dance in Southern California.

The 9.05 Project invites choreographers, dancers, artistic directors, and audience members to sign a digital birthday/6th anniversary card with their thoughts about LA Dance Chronicle. High profile local dance leaders have already stepped forward, describing how “LA Dance Chronicle is the cohesion that holds the dance community together.” Another wrote that after many years performing here, her company received its first review in LA Dance Chronicle and that review later helped the company secure foundation funding.  The 9.05 Project includes an option to add a gift of $9.05, in honor of the date, 09/05/17, that LA Dance Chronicle began on Jeff’s birthday. For the cost of a fancy coffee, the dance community contributions will help fund the addition of a performance calendar to LADC’s online magazine.

Even before LA Dance Chronicle, Jeff Slayton was a triple, if not a quadruple, threat. As a dancer with Merce Cunningham’s company and then with Viola Farber, Jeff was part of the New York dance scene before settling in California where he established and choreographed for his own company, Jeff Slayton & Dancers. He was a professor at Cal State University Long Beach dance department. Jeff also authored a biography of Farber, “The Prickly Rose”.

As print media began eliminating dance reviewers, members of the dance community urged Jeff to fill the widening gap in dance coverage.  By 2017, the positive feedback to his reviews convinced him the time was ripe to establish an online magazine covering dance in Southern California.  Holman’s web design skills and Jeff’s writing were the starting point on September 5, 2017. For most of that year Jeff was the sole writer, yet by September 2018, he single-handedly reviewed 87 dance concerts.

Word spread.  As LA Dance Chronicle began year two in September 2018, more companies and choreographers were requesting to be reviewed and writers with dance backgrounds were expressing interest in reviewing and contributing articles. Three additional writers joined in late summer 2018 and in spring 2019, the number climbed to six freelance contributors. By September 5, 2019, LADC’s second year ended with 147 reviews, almost double the first year, plus articles, profiles, previews, and a weekly performance round-up.

After posting 80 reviews in the six months from September 2019 to March 2020, LA Dance Chronicle’s third year was on track to match or exceed the prior year’s review total.  In March 2020, everything changed. As the Covid-19 public health emergency shut down theaters and studios, the dance community was gobsmacked by cancelled performances, postponed tours, and a deepening uncertainty of how bad things were going to get.  A scant 18 performances were reviewed in the second half of year three.

In September 2022, LA Dance Chronicle began year four with theaters and studios still closed, local dance continuing its pivot to online performances, live-streamed outdoor performances by masked dancers, performances in parking lots with car headlights illuminating the dancers and developing dance films.  LA Dance Chronicle pivoted too.  Despite the impacts on live performance, LA Dance Chronicle published 88 reviews, and responded with more features, profiles, and articles, including a multi-part series showcasing the SoCal dance community’s flexibility in its ever-evolving response to the ongoing pandemic.

As September 5, 2021 began LADC’s year four, theaters timorously reopened. Limited live performances cautiously resumed.  Despite masks, vaccine mandates, and limited audience seating, it remained a time of truncated performance series as performers or crew tested positive to Covid.  Online efforts that had developed during the shutdown, continued as an additional and alternative way to reach audiences, especially audiences outside SoCal who had discovered local companies through the livestream and other online events.  At the close of year five, LADC logged 120 reviews, including contributions from three more writers.

As LA Dance Chronicle’s sixth year began on September 5, 2022, SoCal theaters, studios and dance performance had assumed a new normal.  Local companies were returning to the stage.  Companies were resuming touring.  At the same time, more freelance reviewers, all with deep dance backgrounds, began contributing to LA Dance Chronicle, expanding the depth and breadth of reviews and dance coverage.  LADC’s year six ended with a new high of 177 reviews, with 13 active contributing writers,  501(c)(3) non-profit organization designation, and a working Board of Directors.

Why does LA Dance Chronicle matter?

  • When applying for city, state, or federal funding, dance artists and dance companies depend on published reviews to prove their bona fides, that they are continuing to create new works, performing and touring.
  • Dance writers are also writing dance history for historians, teachers and students of dance to stay informed or to aid in their research.
  • Promotional articles help alert readers to upcoming performances, sell tickets and to increase the audience for dance.
  • Dance writers help dancers to keep on dancing.

The 9.05 Project is a chance to gather the SoCal dance community’s comments about and relationship with LA Dance Chronicle as the online magazine continues its mission to bring visibility to dance with a SoCal perspective.  In addition to comments, the 9.05 Project offers a chance to donate $9.05, the cost of a fancy coffee, to add a performance calendar as a regular LADC feature.

Welcome to the 9:05 Project! Wish Jeff Slayton and LADC a Happy Birthday!