Off Stage: No Alloy for Now

It’s a shame that Dance Alloy Theater member Gretchen Moore had to be the one to post a DAT update on her Facebook page. As she wrote, “The merger with Kelly-Strayhorn Theater is complete & DAT is turning into a pick-up company. No money due to our managing director not applying for any grants. Without the K-S we would no longer exist. Basically I lost my income, but I will be performing with & serving as a rehearsal director for AWCDE (August Wilson Center Dance Ensemble) & doing side work for DAT/K-S. K-S is excited about the merger & is looking forward to utilizing DAT’s studios.”

I don’t think anyone denies that this merger has wonderful possibilities for both groups, but it has been handled badly from a community standpoint. To allow Pittsburgh’s oldest modern dance company essentially to vaporize without any explanation is a disservice to its audiences, supporters and, in particular, the dancers: Jasmine Hearn, Raymond Interior, Maribeth Maxa, Michael Walsh and Gretchen.

So folks, apparently there will be no fall season (and possibly more) for the venerable DAT. In the meantime, the Kelly-Strayhorn is managing the Alloy school and has issued the following statement: “The Kelly-Strayhorn Theater and Dance Alloy have formed a partnership. Both boards have approved a merger resolution that they’re in final discussions.”

This seems to be a step further than I noted on my May 24 post on CrossCurrents where they had formed a “negotiation committee.” But in light of the oncoming season, the committee could have provided some indication as to whether the company could possibly continue. And if it does come back, will “pick-up” mean no salary or medical care?

There is one thing for sure. We will be deprived of five dancers who had formed a tight artistic connection in a very short time.

Definitely this Off Stage article means “off stage.”



4 Responses to Off Stage: No Alloy for Now

  1. Susan says:

    I cannot say how sorry I am to have to learn about this through your post. As the first co-director of the Alloy with Elsa Limbach this was the company that was created and sustained through many, many, years by numerous artists, supporters, funders and community. The Alloy afforded dancers, choreographers and arts administrators work and a salary and a place in the larger community. It has spawned other dance companies and given dancers and choreographers throughout its many years a place to grow and develop their talents. I find it a very sad state of affairs that having been on the Alloy letterhead as an “artistic” board member I have not been notified of any of this. Not one board member seems to have been interested in keeping the Alloy as a first class dance resource in PIttsburgh. Beginning with the sudden dismissal of Beth Corning as artistic director, who left the company with a surplus of money, and the dismissal of Greer Reed-Jones not one person from the Alloy company or board has reached out to the people who feel deeply about the company and have long-time connections with the company. Perhaps something could have been done to prevent the folding of the Alloy with all the long-time resources that we have in Pittsburgh. Who was this negotiating committee that met with the K-S? As for the school residing with the administration of the K-S Theater, I cannot think that will ultimately be a great solution as what dance educator will be in charge if there is even a dance educator that is consulted?
    A “pick-up” company called the “Dance Alloy” is, indeed, not the Dance Alloy and will do nothing to further the ability for dancers to have a stable income, health benefits and a place to ply their craft.

  2. To update my post on Facebook:

    It seems that the information I was given was not, in it’s entirety, true. Which really isn’t surprising. I’m still hearing bits of information about the failure to complete the grants and it seems that the fault lies with many people who where involved. I found out that Susan Sparks, our managing director, was laid off prior to three grants being finished. So it wasn’t her fault. The board and Kelly-Strayhorn were to determine what grants to apply for and then do so. I have no knowledge what they were or if we were eligible, but I do know that none of them came in. A few large donors didn’t give money this past season. I don’t know if it was due to the economy or for personal reasons, but that hurt us really bad. Susan Sparks was working while donating back her pay to help out. I’m not sure why they laid her off in the end, specifically because she was donating her pay. There are a lot of rumors going around about some problems that some of the board members had with she and Greer from the beginning. Again, it’s all hear say, but it’s unsettling that a possible personality clash or personal issue could have had a hand in this.

    Susan Gillis, I’m so sorry you had to find out in the way you did… know that you’re not alone. We all found out in similar messed up ways. We found out the third week of August. One month before the start of our season. There was no “heads up”. We were left at the last minute to fend for ourselves. I think that the board doesn’t consider what we do as a “job”, rather, it’s just something fun we do. In reality, it was our main source of income. It’s sad for all of us. I’m specifically in a rough spot. Greer tried to take me back with her to AWC Dance Ensemble, but there was no money left to pay me. That coupled with a foot injury make it hard for me to travel the 166 mile round trip from Morgantown, WV. I’m still teaching, but not performing. The whole thing is incredibly depressing.

    The Kelly-Strayhorn is really the lifesaver for DAT. They want to keep the outreach and school going as well as keeping the company intact even though they couldn’t sign contracts with the dancers. They are turning it into a “pick up company” though. Dancers will be hired on a per project basis. They seems quite optimistic that we can raise money to have a fall “season”. Whether that is performing at newMoves or actually having our own concert at the Kelly-Strayhorn, that’s to be dictated on the amount of money we can raise. Hopefully donors will step up and we can locate some grants.

    If anyone interested in donating or helping DAT get it’s footing, contact Janera Solomon at the Kelly-Strayhorn Theater.

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