Robert Bettmann is an accomplished emerging artist and scholar, and the founder of Day Eight.
He is the managing editor of the arts magazine Bourgeon and the general editor of the recently published Bourgeon: Fifty Artists Write About Their Work. Michael Kaiser, President of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts wrote about the book, “Bourgeon takes you on a fascinating journey through the minds of dozens of artists and answers the question: what were they thinking? I highly recommend it”. Jonathan Katz, President of the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies agreed, “The book is full of revelations about works of art, about how artists work… Kudos to Robert Bettmann for giving us the fifty-first work of art, this well conceived and edited book.” Lewis Segal (Los Angeles Times) said, “When it comes to supporting artists and arts writers, Robert Bettmann is a force of nature. Lucky the creators and annotators who meet his standards, and lucky the audiences and readers who can appreciate the results.”
Bettmann is also the author of the book Somatic Ecology: Somatics, Nature, Humanity and the Human Body (2009, Verlag). Environmentalist Bill McKibben wrote of Somatic Ecology, “In this intriguing text, movement takes a (literal) turn towards engagement with the grounded earth.” Mr. Bettmann has presented Somatic Ecology at residencies, workshops, and festivals, including at the Contact Improvisation Teachers Exchange (Connecticut College, 2011) and as Artist in Residence at Los Almendros Somatic Research Center (Costa Rica, 2012).
His reporting, scholarship, and editorials have been featured in popular and scholarly magazines and journals, including: the DanceUSA e-journal, Americans for the Arts ArtsBlog, the Clyde Fitch report, Somatics, Contact Quarterly, Bilerico, Ovationtv.com, and DanceEnthusiast.com. He blogs regularly for the Huffington Post.
He received a BA in Environmental Studies under Dr. David Orr from Oberlin College in 1997. While at Oberlin he received an A. W. Mellon Foundation grant to conduct research in ecological design directed by Dr. Marc Rosenbaum. Following graduation, he spent a year on scholarship at the Alvin Ailey School (under Denise Jefferson) in New York City, and subsequently worked at W.W. Norton & Co. as an Editorial Assistant for Science books. While at Norton he danced for Sudden Enlightment Theater, a fusion contemporary and traditional Korean dance company (for which he performed traditional bara dances.)
Through a decade long performing career Mr. Bettmann performed for ballet and modern dance companies, including: Maida Withers Dance Construction Company, Alexandria Ballet, Jane Franklin, Blackbird, and Contradiction Dance. Mr. Bettmann received a Fellowship to undertake a Masters in Dance under Dr. Naima Prevots at American University, and graduated with Distinction in 2004. While pursuing his Masters he received Young Emerging Artist grants for choreography from the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities (2002 and 2004).
The Examiner described the choreography of his (2009) evening length work All Good Men as “an example of artistic craftsmanship”, and The Washington Post called his (2012) evening length Quis Custodiet “a powerful performance.” His choreography has been presented at the Dance Complex (Boston), Dance New Amsterdam (NYC), Gallapagos Artspace (Brooklyn), SUNYPurchase (Doug Varone Intensive), Washington Ballet Studios (D.C.), Jack Guidone Theater (D.C.), and The Ark at the American Dance Festival (North Carolina.) He teaches modern dance, release technique, improvisation, partnering, somatic techniques, and contact improvisation.
Board Chair of the DC Advocates for the Arts, he testifies and speaks regularly on government arts support. He has served the District of Columbia as State Captain in Americans for the Arts National Arts Advocacy Day (2011, 2012, 2013). In 2010 he led a successful grassroots campaign to secure passage of DC Bill B18-451 (the “Bill to Protect Artists”), and from January to May 2012 coordinated (as FY13 Advocacy Director) the DC arts community campaign to increase arts funding that resulted in the largest year to year arts funding increase in the nation – a 300% increase. A leading analyst of the connections between the arts and humanities, he directs Bourgeon‘s annual Student Arts Journalism Challenge, a competition to identify and support young journalists, currently in its fifth year. Michael O’Sullivan (Washington Post) wrote, “Bourgeon’s Student Arts Journalism Challenge offers encouragement to the next generation of arts journalists, along with a reminder that the arts, and those who write about them, still matter.”
For Day Eight, Robert recently created a multi-year project about Security titled “Quis Custodieit”. Visit the dedicated project website here.
While performing as a dancer, Mr. Bettmann began building and managing websites and for a decade has provided marketing and digital design services to candidates, for profits, non profits and associations through staff and consultant contracts. He recently taught web design as an adjunct professor at Boston University’s Center for Digital Imaging Arts.
He was 2012 Jeremiah Fellow with Jews United for Justice, and is a recipient of individual artist and scholar grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, and Humanities Council of Washington.