up your résumés. Once again, the National Museum of Dance
in Saratoga Springs has an opening for a new artistic director.
The museum’s board of directors fired artistic director Jacques
Burgering after a special meeting on Aug. 20. He was told
that his last day would be Aug. 22. Burgering was serving
as the fifth director since the museum opened in 1986. He
said his firing was due to “a conflict of vision between the
board and myself. We had a different vision about where the
museum is going.”
A former member of the Erick Hawkins Dance Company and a dance
historian, Burgering began as artistic director in May 2002.
He said, “I envisioned a five-year timetable to create a national
museum in reality, not only in name.”
His plan depended on building interest in the museum from
the ground up, offering weekly classes, workshops, and Sunday-afternoon
family dance days with local and regional instructors. He
also organized showcases of new work by regional choreographers.
Also, Burgering said, “I spent time trying to fight the prejudice
that the museum was elite and only for ballet.” He named 2003
the Year of Tap at the museum and organized a series of events
including the current residency and performance by New York
City-based tap artist Wendy Levine. He curated the current
exhibition, Child Performers in Tap: 1900-1950, inviting
local residents to contribute their tap memories and activities
to the show.
He also cowrote the recently awarded $16,000 grant from the
New York State Council on the Arts to mount a new exhibition
in spring 2004 on the history of the New Dance Group, a New
York City collective that began during the Depression to teach
dance to ordinary people and perform works on socially charged
ideas, including racism and homelessness.
Burgering said, “I don’t know if some events will be canceled.
I’ve spoken to Norton Owen [dance archivist at Jacob’s Pillow
in Becket, Mass.] and he will curate the New Dance Group show.”
While Burgering built credibility on a local and regional
base, board president Sarah Jeffords Radcliffe appointed a
committee to seek museum memberships nationwide. She also
created a steering committee to develop a mission statement
for the nonprofit museum. Both committees are headed by Saratoga
Springs residents Garrett Smith, Rolfe Lawson, and Judi Stephenson.
Members of the board and the steering committee, who spoke
on condition of anonymity, said Smith was Radcliffe’s choice
for interim director of the museum, but the board has not
yet published notice of Burgering’s firing or Smith’s appointment.
In a phone interview Aug. 28, Smith said, “Your call is a
little premature. I have no title. At this point, I’m a volunteer.”
Asked how the board’s vision for the museum differed from
Burgering’s, Smith said, “You’d have to take that up with
the board. I’m not privy to that.”
However, he said, “I don’t see that the direction of the museum
is going to change. We’re looking to put in place an educational
program, to interest more people in coming into the museum,
and to emphasize inclusivity in forms of dance and region
and diversity of membership. We also want to build our volunteer
The next director may find that current volunteers are reluctant
to continue after the summary firing of Burgering. One volunteer,
Judith Fiore, a retired teacher and active amateur dancer,
said, “I was totally shocked to hear Jacques was fired. From
my perspective, he was doing a wonderful job. The studios
(behind the museum) are active as they never were before.
To me, the fact that he was a dancer gave credibility to the
museum and its activities.”
Burgering is not the only museum director to be fired or forced
to resign. Others were its first director, Alison Moore, who
served from 1986 to 1989, and Toni Smith, its third director,
who held the job from 1997 to 1999. Burgering took over from
interim artistic director Siobhan Dunham, who resigned in
A citizen of the Netherlands, Burgering and his family recently
bought a house in Cambridge. His wife, Maryse Jacobs, a dancer
and choreographer, is teaching modern dance at Hubbard Hall.
Burgering said he was given two months’ severance pay, which
he said, was “gentlemanlike.” He intends to remain in the
Saratoga Springs area, and perhaps to help organize a citywide
arts fest planned for June 2004.
next Coen brothers? Stephen and Jim (l-r) Jermanok
Jim Jermanok had a lucrative career as a Hollywood agent with
ICM, the largest talent management company in the world. So
when he chucked it all to work on the filmmaking side of the
business, the shocked reaction of his peers was not surprising.
Jermanok had represented some big-name clients—Alan Arkin,
Burt Lancaster and Henry Winkler among them—and knew that
going over to the filmmaking side of the business meant starting
over from scratch.
I quit ICM,” Jermanok laughs, “people thought I was crazy.”
After the usual years of struggle familiar to anyone who has
tried to get a film project off the ground, Jermanok has the
last laugh. Passionada, the new film he cowrote with
his brother Stephen (and which he also coexecutive-produced)
has been getting rave reviews from the likes of critics Mick
LaSalle, Kevin Thomas and the big thumb himself, Roger Ebert.
Passionada opens tomorrow (Friday) at the Spectrum
8 Theatres in Albany.
is the story of a reserved widow, played by Celia Amonte (from
the CBS program CSI: Miami), who is pursued by a charming
gambler played by Jason Isaacs (the villainous Brit who tormented
Mel Gibson in The Patriot). A romantic comedy with
the accent on romance, Passionada is set in the Portuguese
community of New Bedford, Mass. The film makes Portuguese
culture—in particular Fado, a kind of blues music—an integral
part of the story. In fact, Jermanok says this is the first
American film to highlight this unique culture. Stephen Jermanok
is a respected travel writer with a number of books on New
England to his credit; as Ebert pointed out in his review,
the brothers’ “freelance writing credits sound like homework
for this story.”
The brothers Jermanok grew up in Schenectady, and Jim credits
their parents for inspiring a mutual interest in the arts.
(Their late mother, Beverly, was a guidance counselor in the
Albany city schools for 35 years, and their father, Julius,
was a manager at General Electric for 40 years.) Jermanok
originally went off to California with the idea of being an
actor and stand-up comic; not wanting to face the failure
that greets most performers in Tinstletown, he decided to
try the business side of show biz. Despite his six-figure-salary
success as an agent, Jermanok couldn’t resist the artistic
just wasn’t happy,” he remembers. With his insider’s view
of the filmmaking process, Jermanok came to the conclusion
that the creative side was worth a try: “I thought, ‘if they
can do this, I can do this.’ ”
The brothers plan to direct as well as write their next project,
Happy Anniversary. It’s the story, Jermanok explains,
“of a shrink who’s a relationship guru. He’s an expert on
all relationships except his own.”
Right now, however, Jermanok is busy promoting Passionada—a
tour that will bring him back home to the Capital Region.
The brothers Jermanok will be at the Spectrum 8 Theatres (290
Delaware Ave., Albany) tomorrow night (Friday, Sept. 5) to
introduce the 6:30 PM screening of the film, and conduct a
Q & A session directly afterwards.
completing the extensive interior renovations of Phase
One—2,700 new seats, a new paint job, carpeting and wall
fabrics—Phase Two of the renovation of the Palace Theatre
recently began with the removal of the old marquee. The
idea is to replicate—somehow, with modern high-tech electronics—the
original 1930s marquee, when the theater was the RKO Palace
and showed swell RKO movies like King Kong. No
word yet, however, on the new name; while “palace” will
remain as part of the name, there have been discussions
about selling the naming rights: Coca-Cola Palace Theatre,