Dance on the Edge has gone over the edge.
Baltimore's only consistent presenter of modern dance for 11 years, Towson University's Dance on the Edge closed down after losing about $15,000 on its March presentation of Lines Contemporary Ballet from San Francisco.
The 12-member company was at Towson for a weeklong residency that included a choreography workshop with its artistic director, Alonzo King. Its fee for the week of classes and performances was $25,000. There were additional expenses for marketing, advertising and technical support, but most of these were donated by university personnel.
However, total ticket sales for Lines' two performances were $5,038, according to Debbie Meyers, director of Dance on the Edge.
"We were certain Alonzo King would sell out," said Marvene Loeschke, dean of fine arts at Towson. "But he didn't."
Dance on the Edge started with an idea by the Downtown Dance Company to bring contemporary dance and performance art to Baltimore. In 1991, Towson University took over the project.
Among its impressive roster of offerings have been Mark Dendy, Dance Alloy, Donald Byrd/The Group, Stuart Pimsler, Doug Varone and Maureen Fleming, an American who performs Japanese butoh dance.
"It has had some performances that sold out but at the end of the year, it has always carried a debt," said Loeschke. "Since I have been here, I have dealt with nothing but debts."
"It didn't make a lot of sense why some companies would draw and others wouldn't," said Karen Kohn Bradley, chairman of Towson's dance department. "Was it the weather? Competing events? We didn't know. Any time it broke even, that was great. Otherwise, we moved money around" to cover the losses.
This season the project brought David Parsons' company and Lines, both nationally acclaimed dance troupes. But Parsons performed on Yom Kippur, which ensured that Jewish audiences could not attend. And none of Baltimore's African-American media seemed aware that King is African-American. There was almost no coverage for Lines.
The money to "move around" is less and less available, with cutbacks in the National Endowment for the Arts' touring program budget and other sources less eager to support cutting-edge work.
Loeschke said Towson is committed to finding a way to bring new dance to Baltimore. "Maybe not by the fall but by next fall , we probably can have something in place. It's critical for the health of the city to keep dance alive here."
Meyers is one of the casualties. She has been paid a half-salary to manage the project and another half-salary to teach tap in Towson's dance program. With half her income gone, she is looking for another job.
Dance Theater of Harlem
Dance Theater of Harlem will perform two programs at the Kennedy Center this week [April 28-May 3].
The program Tuesday through Thursday at 8 p.m. includes the premiere of "Soul on Pointe" by Louis Johnson and two works by George Balanchine: "The Four Temperaments" and "The pTC Prodigal Son."
The weekend programs feature "Concerto in F" by Billy Wilson (to the Gershwin piano concerto); Balanchine's "Concerto Barocco"; Robert North's gymnastic "Troy Game"; "Dougla," a West Indian ritual by Geoffrey Holder; and the premiere of "South African Suite" by Arthur Mitchell, Laveen Naidu and Augustus van Heerden. Performances are at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
For tickets, call 202-467-4600.
Pub Date: 4/27/98