Are We Saying Goodbye to Arts Funding?

Around 12:00pm today, President-Elect Donald Trump drops the 'elect' and becomes our full on Commander in Chief.

Yesterday, his team announced plans to completely eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts (as well as the National Endowment for Humanities). The NEA is a major funder for dance organizations, from large companies to small projects. Their grants provide jobs to dancers and artists all over the country.

I don't have to tell you how important and beneficial the arts are, not only to individuals, but to society as a whole. And if the funding disappears, what do we do?

Please, dancers, speak up. No matter how you voted, or what you believe, we all need to come together for our art. Write to your congressmen. Donate to companies you believe in. The arts are important. Your work is important. You are important.

Legendary Dance Photographer Martha Swope Dies

Photographer Martha Swope passed away in her home in New York City on January 12th. Ms. Swope was instrumental in advancing the field of dance photography.

Born in Texas in 1928, she moved to NYC to study at the School of American Ballet, where she rubbed shoulders with the likes of Jerome Robbins and Lincoln Kirstein, who eventually offered her a job as New York City Ballet's official photographer, a position that she held for many years.

Swope was one of the first photographers to work on catching dance live, as it was happening - not just posing dancers in a studio. Her subjects were a myriad of recognizable names - from Mikhail Baryshinkov to Liza Minnelli to Gwen Verdon and Chita Rivera.

Her legacy will surely last for years to come. See some of her legendary photographs below.

photo: Dancin' by Martha Swope

Hay you! This Barn Dance is Worth Every Second

Happy Friday, pluggers! We've got a little something that will get your weekend started off on the right foot. Meet Jay Lavery, a farmer in the small town of Sharon Springs in upstate New York. Two weeks ago, he uploaded a video of him dancing in his barn while doing some chores to his Facebook page. He shovels hay and tends to the goats....oh, and totally slays to Sia's "Cheap Thrills."

Mr. Lavery has led an interesting life - he lived in New York City for 26 years, working as a flight attendant, stand-up comedian, and translator, eventually getting a degree in clinical psychology. He moved upstate a few years ago, and spends his time raising chickens and turkeys, and taking care of his goats, sheep, and ducks. After a back injury 15 years ago, he has used dance, as well as yoga and meditation, as pain management tools.

As of now, his video has been viewed by 5 million people. He hopes that his dance will "inspire anyone to move in spite of pain and...put a smile on your face for the New Year."

This Full-Size Dance Company is Re-Shaping Dance

Pretty Big Movement

When dancer Akria Armstrong returned to New York after filming a Beyoncé video in LA, she was faced with a problem. She couldn't find an agent who would represent a woman of her build, despite her obvious talent. So what did she do? Started her own company, of course. #likeaboss

She founded Pretty Big Movement, an NYC-based company for plus-size dancers. And their moves are AMAZING. Pretty Big seeks to empower all women, regardless of their size, and remind them that they can do anything they set their minds to.

Their video has gone viral in the last few days - check it out!