Life long supporter of the arts, Celia Ipiotis has led a fascinating career as creator and host of the critically acclaimed series Eye On Dance. With a body of work that spans over two decades, Eye On Dance featured artists from all genres of dance emphasizing the interconnectedness of each art form.
The program debuted in 1981 to promote dance literacy in a thoughtful and engaging manner. Eye On Dance allowed dancers an opportunity to share their stories and signified the cultural implications that dance has had on society. Throughout the life of the series, Eye On Dance bridged the relationship between the viewer and the artist to deepen the enthusiasm that people feel for the arts.
Raine – Why is the Eye On Dance archive so important as a resource and educational tool?
Celia Ipiotis – The reason that it is so important is because it is an unduplicated resource – considered one of the single largest primary sourced archives in dance. We chronicled an era of dance professionals in smart and spicy conversations wrapped around a vast array of topics. Over 45% if the archive captured artists of color, under-documented contributors and artist with AIDS. Eye On Dance became an enormously ecumenical program that tackled just about every subject and topic that exists in the world of dance.
Without even knowing it in 1981 when I started the series and began inviting people to be on the program-who knew that it was going to be such a pivotal year. In one decade we lost close to a generation of enormously talented dancers.
The archive is very important because it has recorded an enormous amount of information that simply does not exist elsewhere, and because of the cultural multiplicity of the programs, and a widespread balance of information on all aspects of dance, and how one form (dance) leads to another.
Raine -What is the most rewarding experience that you have had building this body of work that spans over two decades?
Celia Ipiotis – After having gone through the era of Aids, I was fortunate to capture a number of artists of color and undocumented professionals just before they died.
Raine – Is there enough emphasis placed on the arts in today’s society?
Celia Ipiotis – Well, the American society being based on a puritanical ethic really was never a receptive society when it came to the arts. Unlike Europe where they have a rich culture-it’s part of national pride to point to their artwork, or their music, or their poets, or their dance. I think that in the United States there is a real disconnect.
Raine – What programs can we expect to see restored in 2014?
Celia Ipiotis – The programs that we are focusing on are the programs of artists that have died of Aids, and include people like Alvin Ailey, Ulysses Dove, Billy Wilson, Michael Peters, Chris Komar, and Fernando Bujones.
Raine – How can people get involved to help Eye On Dance continue to restore archived materials?
Celia Ipiotis – Tax deductible contributions are profoundly appreciated. They will help us match our $20,000 National Endowment for the Arts grant and $2500 Keith Haring Foundation award. Donations can be directed to: EYE ON DANCE, 70 East 10th Street, #19D, NY NY 10003. Eye On Dance is also offering “naming rights” to the full archive – the donor’s name is attached to the archive, i.e., Eye On Dance Marissa Mayer Archive or Eye On Dance Jack Dorsey Archive. The donor will have the opportunity to pick the repository where the archive will be deposited. One stipulation: the Eye On Dance Archive must be made publicly available. Interested people can also help by donating services. For example, The Eye On Dance website: help us give our website a face-lift and tune-up to support current and future initiatives.