Can dance work on the radio? Ira Glass weighs in

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12min 34sec
(Photo: Courtesy of David Bazemore)
<p>“This American Life” host Ira Glass with dancers Anna Bass and Monica Bill Barnes from their touring stage production of “One Radio Host, Two Dancers.”</p>

Glass is in a prime position to offer thoughts on CPR's "Radio Dances" project as he recently toured the country with dance-makers Monica Bill Barnes and Anna Bass in a live stage show in which the radio personality and his collaborators told stories with words and movement.

Inspired by Glass - who at first expressed skepticism that dance could work on the airwaves - CPR's arts bureau invited professional dance companies such as The Colorado Ballet, The Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble and Wonderbound as well as the dance department at CU Boulder and members of the public, to create 30- to 60-second dance pieces made specially for the radio.

Dozens of submissions poured in. CPR received Radio Dances from lindy hoppers, tap dancers, tango enthusiasts and many more. To listen to and read about the dances in the collection, please click here.

Here is a preview of some of arts editor and arts show host Chloe Veltman's conversation with Glass. For the full interview, tune in to the inaugural arts show Friday, March 7 at 10.30 a.m. and 7.30 p.m.

CPR: Prior to our experiment, Ira, did you think dance could work on the radio?

Ira Glass: No

CPR: Why Not?

Ira Glass: I feel like when we decided to put our show together we were making a foolhardy attempt at something that no one wanted. I feel like Colorado Public Radio took it to the next level. I feel like you went further than we did. You saw our bluff and took it further. You trumped our card with a higher trump value and I have such respect for that. I never thought this could possibly work and I was so impressed at the number of people who just sent you in entries and the quality of some of them I was really amazed and excited to hear.

CPR: What do you think could be done to enhance the "Radio Dances" you've heard for a listening audience?

Ira Glass: Honestly I think brevity really helps. I am not sure that this is something that would work as a longer, fuller dance piece. I feel like it was effective as a tiny experiment, but I am not sure I would want to listen to a 20-minute ballet on CPR. I think if you keep them short, like for example a news spot here on CPR is typically 40 seconds long. I think that at the end of your newscast, you could go to, "and now, here is this morning's Radio Dance," and then do a little 40-second dance break on the way out of your newscast. I feel like that is the proper way to present these.

Tune in Friday, March 7 at 10:30 a.m. and again at 7:30 p.m. to hear the full feature interview with Ira Glass and dancers Anna Bass and Monica Bill Barnes on CPR’s new weekly arts show.