Celebrating Black Bodies In The Tradition Of American Dance

Feb 4, 2020

 

On today's program: Point Park University celebrates black dancers; Gov. Wolf’s ambitious carbon goals don’t really square up with pushing for a boom in petrochemicals; agriculture is a major industry in Pennsylvania, but it faces serious challenges; and Airbnb is changing the hospitality game in Pittsburgh.

Bringing to the fore the “invisibilized” African presence in dance
(00:00 — 16:22) 

Two educators say they’re hoping mindful teaching and better representation will help inspire local students to study and honor the contributions of black dance. 

Garfield Lemonius, chair associate professor of dance at Point Park University, says people of color have always been present in the development and history of the art, but often their work is left out of the conversation.

“And that’s why representation is so important,” he says. “Not only the curriculum, but in terms of the dancers that we see in professional dance companies.”

Dance historian and author Brenda Dixon Gottschild, whose work charts the influence of black culture on the history of American dance, says she wishes people understood their collective history with the Diaspora in mind. 

“What we think of as American culture is in essence African-European-American culture,” Dixon Gottschild says. “The way we think, even. The way in which we have an attitude of 'coolness.' And when I say we, I mean all Americans and all ethnicities. That the basic integers that we understand as being part of America come out of African American roots. It’s more than just influences.”

Dixon Gottschild will be in Pittsburgh Thursday and Friday for a pair of free lectures, including an exploration of her latest book, “Joan Myers Brown and the Audacious Hope of the Black Ballerina” at 7 p.m. in the Pittsburgh Playhouse PNC Theatre. It is open to the public.

Tom Wolf’s petrochemical balancing act
(17:51 — 22:39) 

In his second term, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf has set ambitious climate goals for the state, but he’s also embraced the carbon-emitting petrochemical industry. 

For StateImpact Pennsylvania, the Allegheny Front’s Reid Frazier looks at how the governor navigates those two priorities

PA is still unsure how to square a future for farming
(22:41 — 29:40) 

Pennsylvania has twice as many farmers over the retirement age than under 35, and more than 400,000 acres have fallen out of production over the past several years. They’re issues the state wants to solve, but how do you get land held by the older generation to younger ones? And who do you bring in to farm it? 

WITF’s Rachel McDevitt looks at how these issues are intertwined

Airbnb occupancy rates rival those of Pittsburgh hotels
(29:45 — 39:08)

There are 2,500 active local listings on Airbnb right now, and together they generated about $20 million in supplemental income in Allegheny County alone in 2019. How are Pittsburgh hotels responding? 

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Gretchen McKay reports the vast majority of incoming travelers—70 percent—still opt for traditional accommodations in hotels, motels and bed-and-breakfasts, services like Airbnb have made it a much more competitive market

“If you’re a hotelier, you need to be thinking about how to deal with it,” John Graf, president and CEO of Priory Hospitality Group told the paper, by adding value to your service and embracing the concept.

90.5 WESA’s Caroline Bourque and Caldwell Holden contributed to this program.

The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news program. Tune in weekdays at 9 a.m. to hear newsmakers and innovators take an in-depth look at stories important to the Pittsburgh region. Find more episodes of The Confluence here or wherever you get your podcasts.