During her residency Ann Carlson burst into classrooms (a surprise to students) across the Florida State University campus and performed short excerpts from her body of work. After each "classroom burst" Carlson held short dialog sessions with the students. During one such session Carlson described her convictions about the value of dance as an art form in society. In response an FSU dance student described his personal difficulty in convincing his parents of the value of his dance degree. In reply Carlson offered to write to the parents of dance students everywhere to express her support. Carlson's letter follows:
An Open Letter to the Parent(s) of Dance Students:
Your daughter or son is studying dance. He/She has embarked upon a difficult, yet amazing and important field of study. I am writing to send you appreciation, gratitude and confidence that your support of them dancing is a powerful act, both for them as an individual and for the health and well being of our contemporary culture. They are embarking upon an investigation of one of the most important aspects of being alive and being human - living in a thinking/feeling/moving (and dancing) human body.
There are an abundance of opportunities to explore as a result of this area of study. Dance education is a foundation and a spring board to many professions and possibilities. Perhaps even more important than what area of dance or what endeavors they choose, by learning to live deeply, passionately and respectfully in their dancing bodies, they will have a gift few citizens experience, and one that will last all their lives. Through your support, your son/daughter is a living reminder that we as humans are here to experience joy, whether in a simple reach of an arm or in a complex set of motions designed to reveal the mystery of being.
They might be making dances for themselves or other dancers, for the theater, for the out of doors, for the built environment. They may go on to teach dance or create dance companies, stage political interventions, choreograph for musicals, for the cruise ship, television or film. They may exercise their knowledge through writing about dance or performance, engaging other readers and movers and thinkers, like themselves. They might utilize their kinesthetic knowledge in the context of our nation's policy making and/or someday in their own parenting. The contexts are endless and indeed, they will design and create their own opportunities for dancing, ones that today don't even exist (in outer space, no doubt).
I was once like them and continue to enjoy a fantastic life in this field as a choreographer and performer. Thank you for supporting them in this very important endeavor. Rest assured, through your support - they (and you) are moving culture forward.
MANCC Living Legacy Artist 2011/2012