The Trump administration has threatened to cut all funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, which will save each American citizen less than 50 cents per year. Nevertheless, some people ask, why should I pay even 50 cents to support some kind of strange art form that I don’t really like? Trump thinks art should be supported by private patrons. But that depends on people being generous, and being interested.
I don’t go out to theater or dance as much as I used to, but last year I saw a performance by UPside Dance, a modern dance troupe based in Healdsburg, that knocked my socks off. The dancing was incredible. Not just incredible as in, “Wow, look what the human body can do! And look what a whole bunch of human bodies can do together when they practice a lot!” Incredible in that the dances evoked a whole range of feelings: they were funny, they were touching, they were sad.
One was about addiction—an incredible duet between a character and her shadow, which somehow expressed the longing between addicts and the thing they crave. There was a dance about Post-It notes. (The theme and title of the whole show was “Paper.”) A soloist came out with her stack of yellow stickies and began to dance. At first she was mastering her life through these little pieces of paper, but soon the pieces of paper started to master her. They were peeling off and getting lost and she was chasing after them. I recognized myself in this person.
I felt silly that I didn’t know more about UPside Dance. So I became a subscriber—a patron of the arts, if you will—and I have been following their doings ever since. I hope people will come out to support these artists who are making brave, beautiful, uplifting work, and I hope that we as a community can embrace them and show them, at a time when the arts are facing financial cutbacks, that we will arrive, in person, to show them we see their place in society. They are here to delight us. And that is priceless.
Lisa Michaels lives in Healdsburg.
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