Despite the theatrical nature of our politics, and the reasons behind the tense national conversation on race relations, there are glimmers of light. Art has once more been defined as core curriculum and with the brand new Every Students Succeeds Act, with key changes including more local control and early education support, I have hope for the future of art and youth in this country.
In Oakland, with BANDALOOP, this year has been our busiest in 24 and we are almost all grown up as an organization now with a staff of five, including an effective and tireless executive director (Thomas Cavanagh), a new assistant artistic director (Melecio Estrella) and so much work we have to slow down. How did that happen? A few highlights form this year were performing on a skyscraper in Shanghai, a town square in Reykjavik, cliffs in Yosemite, the side of a parking structure in the Tenderloin in San Francisco. Artistically thrilling for me was bringing Harboring, our full evening length indoor-outdoor theater show to North Carolina and Kaohsiung Taiwan and with it, engaging local youth performers in professional development as a “movement chorus”.
We had a busy teaching year with our school in Oakland providing regular classes and workshops, several BANDALOOP Experiences to corporate and non-profits alike, and residency activity on tour. But honestly, as much as I love making work, teaching and performing, my single favorite moment was seeing Tom Robbins’ red-socked feet dancing on the wall of our studio when he came down to accept the first “BANDALOOP Award” at our gala in November. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Robbins’ work, I took the name BANDALOOP from his novel Jitterbug Perfume in which he describes a fictional band of semi-immortals who live in caves in the Himalayan mountains in India. They live for hundreds of years due in part to a dance they do called the BANDALOOP. Dancing with Tom created a full circle in time, bringing me back to the origins of the company in the mystery and adventure of nascent possibility.
Our maturity comes with new responsibilities and costs so please consider us in your year-end giving. Your tax deductible donation will fuel the fire of creativity, bring dance to new audiences, help a student take our classes, offer free public art in Oakland, celebrate natural spaces through art making that honors those spaces and keep us moving forward into a future full of art and inspiration.
Amelia Rudolph, December 21st, 2015