1. At the end of 2008, the Minnesota Shubert Performing Arts Center lost Executive Director Kim Motes but earned several new grants that put the institution close to its $35 million groundbreaking goal. Will the Shubert really break ground in 2009?
2. The Southern Theater suffered a backlash after firing Artistic Director Jeff Bartlett. They subsequently hired a part-time dance programmer, Dylan Skybrook, who has strong ties with the local postmodern/experimental (pomo) dance scene. Will the Southern's regular, long-time dance companies decamp for other venues? Will Mary Leer’s fledging The Lab Theater be the place? And, will Skybrook assume a more curatorial role than Bartlett and transform the Southern into a home for local experimental dance and movement research?
3. Five years ago, Stuart Pimsler founded the Sage Awards to honor excellence in the local dance community. In recent years, particularly in 2008, many of the awards have seemed skewed toward a particular sector of the dance community. In 2009 will any awards be given to performers not affiliated with Pimsler or his company or the pomo dance scene?
4. Will the two curators of non-local dance—Ben Johnson at the Northrop Auditorium and Philip Bither at the Walker —reconcile their mutual, overlapping desires to present the most innovative, experimental, dance-theater productions from around the globe? If both take on this role, will we need to travel to New York to see such established companies as Mark Morris Dance Group and Paul Taylor Dance Company?
5. How will dance artists respond—aesthetically, programmatically, financially—to the recession?
6. Will dance artists/companies discover innovative new strategies for audience building, as traditional media for publicizing dance shrink?
7. Minnesota Dance Theatre, Zenon Dance Company, and the James Sewell Ballet are the three biggest dance companies in the state and were founded, respectively, in 1962, 1983 and 1990. TU Dance has only been around since 2004 but is immensely popular. In 2009, will TU Dance overtake the big three in ticket sales and audience adoration?
8. Print publications across the country are cutting their dance coverage and/or forcing out their long-time critics. Online publications offer more leeway and length but often request previews rather than critical assessments (reviews). Plus, they offer compensation nowhere near even a freelance critic’s meager fee. Dance criticism flourished in the 70s and 80s, but is now in a liminal zone between print, broadcast, and the Internet. Is this the year when the call/need/desire for professional dance criticism ceases completely? Or will a new business model that supports paid (meaning more than $25 - $100 per piece) long-form, thoughtful criticism emerge online?
9. Will spectacle television like Dancing with the Stars and Superstars of Dance (hosted by Michael Flatley, the fatuous maestro of dance spectacle, no less) stimulate or suppress interest in concert dance?
10. Every now and then, a performance occurs that confirms why anyone would stay in this business at all. A choreographer comes along with the discipline, invention, artistry, audaciousness, intelligence and heart/whimsy/cleverness to completely rock our world with a work that subverts expectations, ignites emotions, challenges the intellect, makes us laugh or reel back in terror. Who will do it this year? ❦