I knew if I titled my comments this way I would get you folks to read farther. (Sorry to use the tactics media uses to get you riled up.) Normally, when I blather on with my daily comments I don’t expect much action. In most cases I would be happy if folks would simply read my column and maybe pass it on to someone else. But the reality is it’s more likely that IF my column was made of newspaper it would end up in the bottom of the bird cage or swatting flys.
But today, I need you to take it farther. Today is one of those “pen is mightier than the sword moments” The arts are under attack here in our country. Now I am pretty sure that with that statement about “the arts” I might have just lost a good portion of my guy readers. You know, The guys who would rather watch sporting events on TV than watch a ballet or Shakespeare on PBS.
We all know that the big story politically is budget cuts; what to spend, what we don’t need, and in both cases, politicians are making those decisions for the people. Case in point: Wisconsin, and the handful of other cities and states here in the US. Mind you, I know the pros and cons; the politicians were voted in with the issues of big government and big spending. However, I am not sure if folks (Voters) are having second thoughts about the politicians they voted in or the half that did not vote with the politicians who won are just sore losers. Regardless, they are showing in hundreds and thousands in support of unions to bargain for their rights. Or to cancel out the cuts.
Give a country a little freedom and they use it any time they can. Stop ‘um from using it and they will give you a little advice; DON’T TREAD ON ME!
So, where am I going with this you ask; well, I am going to a small West Coast town by the name of Monterey, on the Central Coast of California and a community college called MPC. Like all colleges they have your basic programs, general studies, trade classes, a team for each different sport, a drama department and a Dance department.
Because of my line of work it’s pretty obvious I am going to talk about the arts programs. I can personally attest to the drama and dance department. The instructors and staff pour their lives blood into the classes and productions they put on. Even to this day I can tell you that some of the amateur productions far surpass some of the professional productions I have been in, in heart, soul and conviction.
For me, community college and this Dance Department was a way to help achieve my goal of fame and fortune, OR just being employed in the career I love. It is, and was, something I take very seriously, but I could not afford to go to a big school to get the training I needed.
That’s the beauty of a community college; no matter who you are you can have a goal or they will help you find one, You can take all the classes to get you ready to go out in the world and make your mark or go to the next school and further your education.
WHAT’S HAPPENING? Well it seems like the school officials in this college are attacking a handful of the program to help them reduce whatever it is that ails their college.
Now I am not sure but I think you could probably just take out the name of my communities college and replace it with your own. Sadly this is happening in cities all over.
Here’s what makes me crazy! See, I’m looking over the programs that they want to cut, and not a single one on these is a sporting team. Not football, not baseball… But… The Arts! In this case The Dance Department is on the chopping block and it gets worse;, they attempting to dissolve the whole program. Because the person who runs the department, my friend, Walter White, who is tenured (which means you can’t fire him, ’cause he’s been there too long) he can’t be fired unless they dump the whole dance department.
I won’t even focus on the fact the sports programs remain untouched. But I will say that politicians (on the right) would rather funnel a few millions into an empty field with bleachers, than they would to a department that will shape (mentally and physically) people for their entire life – DANCE!
Maybe, it’s because these school officials don’t see the value in the arts programs.
Look at dance: develops hand eye coordination skills, self esteem, physical agility, and a plethora of other skills that will allow a person to not only achieve better health but also use it in whatever else you become: A doc, a lawyer, or police. It is a tool that helps a person communicate more effectively and know their body.
I can’t tell you the difference between a person that understands their body and one who doesn’t. You don’t believe me? Start looking at those friends that you admire, the ones that move well, and communicate well. Then ask them, “Have you ever taken a movement class?” You’d be surprised.
Back some time ago, I remember they were having football players take ballet class. The studies showed that it helped the team with balance, agility …
Summing this all up:
I have been in this business for 27 years. Walter White and this dance program have shaped me as a person and as a performer. I would not be doing what I do today Cirque du Soleil ( take a look at my bio) if it was not for Walter and this Dance department, and if you ever come to Las Vegas look high up in the sky and you will see my name in lights and my picture; this is what Walter (the Teacher) and the MPC Dance department has done for me.
I am not alone, and I encourage you to read the information below that they are sending out to try to save this department. Send an email, even if you never went to this school, to save this Art and this Dance department!
Read and send to all you know!
Two other important things you can do NOW:
1) Send an email voicing your concern at the prospect of losing our Dance Department to the MPC Board of Trustees, before Tuesday’s meeting, to: GoverningBoard@mpc.edu and to the MPC Superintendent/President, Dr. Douglas Garrison, at: DGarrison@mpc.edu
2) Forward this email to everyone you know who may share your concerns! We need responses from all corners of the community, and the time is NOW! Invite everyone who knows how much dance means to you to join you on Tuesday at this meeting and to send a personal email to the Board asking them to consider reducing their budget without eliminating entire programs.
Thank you for helping keep dance alive at MPC and on the Monterey Peninsula.
P.S. If you are interested in reading the Board Agenda for Tuesday, you can find it at:
More Will: http://is.gd/DhKEKLWill
“The Good Will Tour”
“All I Know Is What Little I Read On The Internet!”