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Winter 2004
Art in the Time of AIDS
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"Rubber goods" stores in Kolkata
A strip of "rubber goods" stores in Kolkata

Besides teaching and writing, Gere has long been involved in other arts movements. He co-directed an audience-enrichment activity at the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival in Massachusetts. He has been co-director of the Talking Dance Project, a California organization dedicated to bridging the gap among artists, critics and audience members, and he organizes a related series, Artist Alphabets (in conjunction with UCLA Live) that helps students learn more about “the artists who help us learn how to live our lives.”

“The Talking Dance Project set me on the road to playing a role I often play, as a mediator, someone who helps others understand what is going on in the art form. I used to love going to the lobby after a [dance] performance and hearing people discuss what they had just seen. I wanted to capture that feeling, to have a place where people could talk about what they had just seen, to develop exciting conversations about our art form.”

Also dear to his heart is the Estate Project for Artists with AIDS, which was started in 1991 by a New York advocacy group to help visual artists protect their work after they died. The concept grew to include music and dance, and Gere helped survey dance works, aided by UCLA graduate student Peter Carpenter M.F.A. ’03. The Estate Project (www.artistswithaids.org) eventually included not only staged dance, but also other types of choreographed events, such as the early ACT UP campaigns, which used street theater to promote AIDS awareness and to make a political statement.

According to Deborah Jowitt, dance writer for The Village Voice, it’s only been within the last two decades that dance has been looked at in a scholarly way, and Gere has been doing his share to foster that scholarship.


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