Our history and what we do...
thINKingDANCE is a consortium of dance artists and writers who work together to provide critical coverage for dance, to build audiences for dance, and to foster the art of dance writing. Based in Philadelphia, thINKingDANCE increases visibility for local dance, encourages new forms of dance writing, broadens the scope of dance coverage in our city, and increases audience receptivity to dance. We do this through live events and partnerships as well as at www.thinkingdance.net, our online dance journal. We train and educate our writers through regular workshops with visiting dance writers, monthly peer-critique sessions, and a uniquely rigorous two-tiered editing process. The organization is currently thirty writers strong.
Lisa Kraus and Anna Drozdowski founded thINKingDANCE in 2011. Inspired by their experiences as Fellows of the National Endowment for the Arts’ Arts Journalism Institute at the American Dance Festival, they felt the need to create a forum for high-quality writing focused on the burgeoning dance scene in Philadelphia. In its first year, thINKingDANCE received funding from The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage through Dance Advance from which it created its website, developed editorial guidelines and systems for internal communications, and built mechanisms for outreach and readership cultivation. Eighteen Philadelphia-based writers were selected through a competitive application process. A training scheme of intensive workshops was initiated with a section of each workshop made open to the public. Some of the nation's leading dance writers and critics spent time with thINKingDANCE (including Wendy Perron, Elizabeth Zimmer, and Deborah Jowitt), helping to develop the organization's voices and skills.
As funding from the initial grant ran out, writers, editors, and those in leadership roles worked on a volunteer basis. Fall 2013 brought a commitment to creating more infrastructure around tD's programming as the organization began a shift from being a founder-led organization, with Lisa Kraus driving many of the group's activities, to a more sustainable model with multiple leaders with key responsibilies. A Board of Directors and Editorial Board were named and financial systems were implemented. Others from within the group stepped forward to lead tD education and communications teams.
We’ve now published over 1400 articles about the Philadelphia dance community and beyond. Each one goes through a careful and thorough two-tiered editorial process. Over 30 people are involved with the publication, either as a writer, editor, staff member, board member, or some combination of these roles. thINKingDANCE members have a wealth of experience in the dance field and elsewhere, as dancers, choreographers, university academics, or other professionals. They are deeply knowledgeable, passionate, and invested in improving both the quantity and quality of discourse in the dance field.
Our Mission Statement
thINKingDANCE is a collective of independent writers who produce media about dance in its broadest sense. Founded in 2011, we publish a digital journal focused on the Philadelphia area. Our mission is to:
- Meaningfully contribute to the creative ecosystem by marking the presence of dance and movement-based arts
- Innovate and foster the practice of dance writing in traditional and experimental forms
- Work to dismantle dance criticism's status as a gatekeeper by engaging performing artists and writers who have historically been sidelined
We pursue these goals by training together through peer-critique sessions, with guest educators, and a two-tiered editing process. thINKingDANCE is a place where ideas thrive, where editors and writers engage one another in transformative dialogue, and where we imagine a more just dance media landscape.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and organic organizational shifts, thINKingDANCE is operating with a horizontal leadership structure. Our Editorial Board consists of a rotating body of leaders who share editorial and administrative work. Each member takes a three-four month term as Lead Editor and Assistant Lead Editor each year, in lieu of a sole Editor-in-Chief. An additional member of the leadership team serves as Managing Editor responsible for operations and organizational development. As a non-profit organization, thINKingDANCE also has a board of directors who support the writers and leadership team in carrying out our mission.
The Intersectionality Network
The Intersectionality Network (IN), is a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee initiated by tD writer Mohan Bell. The IN’s name was coined by tD writer Preeti Pathak. Since 2018 the IN has researched the demographics of our writers and coverage, created a community agreement, organized trainings for our writers and editors. This year the IN is developing a writer survey, fundraising for developing a justice and equity-oriented strategic plan, and continuing to do internal learning through workshops at tD meetings.