On September 5th of last year Martin Holman and I launched the new online magazine LA DANCE CHRONICLE (LADC). The first year has been exhilarating, informative and, the more dance that we cover, the more we realize just how many concerts we are unable to attend. The feedback from the dance community has been positive and encouraging, so we feel that our efforts are assisting in providing a much-needed service to dance companies, choreographers, educators, dancers, as well as anyone else who follows dance.
When I moved to Los Angeles in August of 1978, the dance community welcomed me with opened arms. The dance community was thriving and Los Angeles had at least four newspapers with full or part-time dance critics. More recently, like everyone else in this business, Martin and I came to realize that the number of dance writers was rapidly dwindling; not solely in Los Angeles, but in all major cities with a thriving arts culture. After further discussion, we agreed that LA Dance Chronicle was one way to give back what was so generously offered to me 40 years ago; kindness and support, as well as a voice with a platform that promotes art and talent. As someone who has performed in two companies and acted as artistic director/choreographer of my own company, I also know the importance of having one’s work reviewed.
Before LADC, I was writing for See Dance and BachTrack. When we decided to venture out on our own, Martin, whose profession is in Internet Technology, designed and built the website. We were trusting that the relationships I had established with dance artists, company managers, and promotional personnel throughout LA, would continue even though LADC was an unknown. Little did we realize how quickly our readership would expand.
Prior to launching LADC, we reached out to the amazing and witty Ann Haskins to see if she would be interested in posting her informative blog on LA Dance Chronicle. Fortunately, she was and received the go ahead from Cultural Weekly and we called it This Week In Dance. Ann has written about local and national dance for Pointe Magazine, Dance Spirit Magazine, Dance Teacher Magazine, Los Angeles Magazine, L.A. View, Coast Magazine, the Daily News, and the Herald Examiner. Among her broadcast projects, Ann hosted Inside Theater on KCRW-FM and contributed dance and theater features to both KLON-FM and KUSC-FM. She has received two Horton Awards from the Los Angeles Dance Resource Center for her coverage of dance in Los Angeles. Ann’s knowledge of dance in Los Angeles and in the field of ballet is extensive, and we are honored to have her on our team. She is also the recipient of the 2018 Service to the Field award from the LA Dance Festival. It was not long before Ann began writing feature articles for LADC.
It became apparent to me early on that LADC needed more voices on its review staff. We had no money to pay writers, but I reached out to a few colleagues in the dance community, including Deborah Brockus, Andrew Pearson and Sasha Anawalt to see if they knew of writers who would be willing to volunteer their time and talents. All we could offer were complimentary tickets to concerts, exposure and the possibility of gaining experience. We could not even afford to reimburse anyone for the costs of parking or gas.
Deborah Brockus introduced me to the beautiful, multi-talented and vivacious Joanne DiVito who, after a little bit of encouragement, joined the LADC Review Staff in the spring of this year. Joanne has had an amazing career that includes ballet, Broadway and commercial dance. She is a huge advocate for all forms of dance and while working as an agent for Bobby Ball Agency, she was asked to head the West Coast Office of Career Transition for Dancers. Joanne brought the LEAP program to Los Angeles, helping dancers get their Bachelors Degrees so they could compete as leaders in the community. She developed the “Dancers Forum” which brought together respected opinion leaders of the dance world, such as Nigel Lythgoe, Debbie Allen, Renae Williams Niles, Tony Basil, Lula Washington, Sasha Anawalt, Jamal Simms, Julie McDonald, and so many others. Most recently Joanne was the recipient of the Service to the Field award from the LA Dance Festival.
Joanne introduced us to Matthew Shaffer who came aboard shortly thereafter. Matthew is an author, performer, and choreographer who has worked on the top Netflix original series, Wet Hot American Summer, the hit television show, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, and had a short-lived role as a Pottery Barn sales associate. His debut book, So You Want To Be A Dancer launched as an Amazon #1 New Release in Performing Arts. He was a principal dancer with Giordano Dance Chicago and performed in the ensemble of The Radio City Christmas Spectacular for 5 seasons. In 2004, Matthew returned to Los Angeles and established A Group Production with his husband and creative partner, Jeff Payton. In addition to his endeavors as a writer, Matthew continues to cultivate his career as a choreographer, performer, and educator.
Sasha Anawalt introduced us to Lara J. Altunian who had taken her writing course at USC. Lara is a Los Angeles–based writer and arts journalist. She has been a dance reporter for Ampersand LA, and the L.A. correspondent for Dance.com where she covered competitive and commercial dance. Lara is a regular contributor of dance features for LA STAGE Alliance’s @ This Stage Magazine and theater reviews for Stage Raw. She has also been published in Riting.la and Stage and Cinema. A master’s graduate from the University of Southern California, Lara is most interested in visual and interactive storytelling, and thrives in finding meaning within the poetry of unspoken movement. Lara began writing for LADC this past summer.
Our latest addition is someone whose writing I first encountered on Facebook. Andrew Choreographer has a passion in teaching classes for various ages, levels and abilities through jazz dance, exercising and/or warm up classes as well as writing about his chosen craft. He has choreographed for the Rick Evans Band and had roles on the TV series Neighbours, The Flying Doctors and various TV commercials. Although Andrew is not on our Review Staff, his articles provide information and insight into dance and dance artists in television and film. He is contactable on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.
So, in just one year, the LA Dance Chronicle writing staff has grown to five, publishing over 112 reviews, 50 dance related articles and 60 weeks of This Week In Dance. We continue to keep an eye out for additional writers to help encompass a wider range of dance genres, cover more performances and, of course, increase our readership. We have plans to go non-profit soon so that readers who wish to can support us through tax-deductible donations. These funds would go to pay everyone on the LADC team an honorarium and to maintain the site.
LA Dance Chronicle wishes to thank its readers for their continued interest and to the many dancers and choreographers who reach out to us to review their work, agree to be interviewed or dance artists who seek performance preview articles. We strive to give constructive rather than destructive criticism, spread the word about the amazing dance artists in Los Angeles and to help promote ticket sales. We are also in the process of developing a calendar of performances. We at LADC love dance, LA dance artists and we hope to continue earning your respect and trust. There is a vibrant and expanding dance culture in Los Angeles, and it is our wish to share and promote the rich, unique expertise and voices of that culture with dance enthusiasts around the country and beyond.
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Featured image: The first LA Dance Chronicle Staff Meeting – Photo by Hugh Haskins.