Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

‘Dancing about art’: The Blanton swings into July with ‘Second Saturdays’

Chelsea Li/The Daily Texan

The Blanton Museum of Art decided to shake things up this summer, taking advantage of its newly-renovated grounds by “dancing about art” every second Saturday. On July 13, the museum will put a spotlight on the vibrant Austin swing community — honoring the century-old dance style with live music, art talks and dance lessons. 

“Second Saturdays: Swing Edition” will feature swing lessons by the Austin Swing Syndicate, live music by the Golden Hour Heptet and a talk with a professional artist all within the main building’s galleries. Additionally, a pop-up print exhibition titled “Let’s Dance!” will highlight dance-themed visual art. Katie Bruton, public relations and media manager at the Blanton, said the museum wanted to expand its reach beyond visual art.

“When we opened our new grounds, we saw that every time it would have live music people loved dancing,” Bruton said. “So we thought, ‘Why not lean into that and really embrace it for the summer?’”

Instructors from the Austin Swing Syndicate, one of the largest swing communities in the nation, will teach the dance lessons at the event. The nonprofit organization has been running the vintage swing scene in Austin for over 20 years, said Jennifer Reed, vice president of the organization. 

“Our community (exists) to make sure that vintage dances live on,” Reed said. “We’re hoping that by partnering with the Blanton, (Austin Swing Syndicate will) get more exposure (and) people will see that there is swing dancing in Austin.”

Reed said swing dancing offers a welcoming community and health benefits. Swing draws crowds of all ages and provides ample opportunity to socialize beyond a comfortable circle. 

“It can be intimidating for people to get up there when they’ve never done it before,” Reed said. “We’re trying to have a good turnout of our community at the Blanton event so that we can get other people up and off their feet and dancing.”

The upcoming event features an “Art with an Expert” talk with R. Eric McMaster — a professor at UT and artist whose gallery in the Blanton, called “Compressions”, challenges familiar ways of thinking through sports-centered filmmaking. While his displayed works do not directly relate to the event’s dance theme, McMaster said he often works with people who have a honed sense of their bodies. 

The act of dance often demands a choreography between two people that includes different tiers of separation and compression … so, dance tends to relate to the overall mechanisms of my work,” McMaster said. “I hope that in seeing my collective works, viewers have a shared sense of connection.”

Bruton said the Blanton provides the perfect opportunity to merge the greater Austin community with the UT community while simultaneously exposing museum-goers to new art and experiences. 

“While they’re here they can discover something new and feel it’s really a place for Austin,” Bruton said. “We’re special because we’re UT’s art museum and we’re also Austin’s art museum. (We’re) bringing these different communities together.” 

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