Taking the initiative

The Collective’s Baltimore Dance Invitational is in its third year—and it’s just getting started

dancing BDI
Collective Co-Director Jessica Fultz performing in “Stay Tuned.”


Dance hasn’t enjoyed much of an infrastructure in Baltimore. The overall community is relatively scattered and isolated with sporadic audience crossover, but there’s a great wealth of passion and commitment, especially from The Collective, Baltimore’s 16-year-old modern dance company that’s about host the third annual Baltimore Dance Invitational.

Established as a non-profit organization in 2001, part of The Collective’s vision is “to connect with and to the local arts community through collaborations with other artists, guest residencies, bi-weekly dance classes, and performance projects.” That last goal— performances projects—couldn’t have a better manifestation than BDI, which The Collective conceptualized and kicked off in 2013. Co-Director Sonia Synkoski took the time to answer a few questions from the Post.

UB Post: How was BDI created?What was the creation process like?

Sonia Synkowski: BDI was created through collaborative conversations with the company. The Collective has always annually produced an informal showcase event called Open Marley Night. In more recent years, that event started to feel more formal (polished work, fully produced) than informal with in-progress work. That realization lead to the suggestion that we create a new showcase event for work that was fully produced and would benefit from a showcase performance. The Baltimore Dance Invitational was born. The idea was to create multiple dance events for artists/community under the label of “The Baltimore Dance Invitational”—like a mini- festival. In the past two years that included workshops, Open Marley Night, a professional showcase, two dance concerts, and meet-the-artist receptions that spanned four days. This year, we are doing a community workshop, a professional dance showcase, and a meet-the-artist reception all on one day.

Collective member Adrienne Kraus Latanishen performing in “Growl.”
Collective member Adrienne Kraus Latanishen performing in “Growl.”

UBP: How is it funded?

SS: We have had a different funding source every year. Artists have always been paid for their participation in the professional showcase. Funding has been essential to ensuring that the artists are compensated. We are thankful for support received to make this event a success.

In year one we got started with help from the William G. Baker Fund. In year two we launched a successful Kickstarter project. This year we received funding from the Baltimore County Commission on Arts and Sciences.

UBP: Where do you see BDI in three years? Five? Ten?

SS: Interest has grown every year so I don’t see the event going away anytime soon. This year we moved BDI to a new venue. In three to five years, I would like to continue to see BDI as a staple annual regional festival with more expanded workshop offerings. In 10+ years, I would like to see BDI as a national festival/conference that ties the community and the professional artist together through workshops/ learning experiences/participatory events/dance.

Collective members Martha Johnston and Rachel Wolfe performing in “Static: If I, Then We?”
Collective members Martha Johnston and Rachel Wolfe performing in “Static: If I, Then We?”

For more information and to see the Invitation’s schedule, head over to http://www.collective-dance.com.

All images courtesy of Matt Roth

February 2015: Letter From the Editor

“Won’t it be wonderful when black history and native American history and Jewish history and all of U.S. history is taught from one book. Just U.S. history.” -Maya Angelou

Welcome back! I hope you had a fantastic winter break; I know I did. I just returned from the Caribbean and Central America and was so sad to see it end. Trust me, if it weren’t for school, I would not have come back. Stay tuned for our March issue, which will feature a photo essay of my trip.

But as all good things, winter break must come to an end and with it we usher in the Spring semester. For many of us, like myself, this means graduation is only 15 weeks from now. For everyone, it means that it’s time to buckle down and start studying. For those new to UB, and even those returning, the best advice I can give is never put off tomorrow what you can do today. This is particularly important when it comes to due dates—don’t wait until the last minute; start studying now and turn those papers in as soon as possible. You absolutely never know what life may bring your way to derail your study plans, so it’s better to get a jump on it while you have the time. Also, make sure that you have a system to keep yourself organized. If you work better electronically, make sure you put deadlines, reminders, and even reserve study time in your calendar; if you prefer the old school paper method, invest in a fun, trendy, and personalized planner—I recommend the Academic Agenda from May Designs (www.maydesigns.com), in fact I bought all of the Editorial Board members of the Post one last semester to help us manage our school and production deadlines.

I’d like to welcome our new Business Manager, Keiya West, onboard. Keiya will also be our Publications Intern this semester and will be writing a monthly column on awareness. She will be supplementing her monthly columns with weekly columns at www.ubpost.org about topics of her choosing.

This semester is all about “lasts” for me. As I mentioned earlier, I’ll be graduating at the end of this semester and this is my last first issue of the semester, so please join me for the ride this semester as I say “see you again sometime” to the Post and to all of you. But enough about me! I need to give my Post family the shoutout they deserve and recognize their hard work on this issue over the winter break. Without all of their sacrifices, while you’re enjoying your time away from those heavy books, they have been diligently working to bring you a fabulous February issue to welcome you back school!

We’d love to hear from you! What are we missing? What do you want to see more or less of? Let us know! Please email me at editor@ubpost.org. Also, don’t forget to Like Us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter (@theUBPost), and subscribe to our newsletter (www.ubpost.org).

Yours Truly, Jessica Greenstein

Follow me on Twitter @lawofcooking

Ngata Suspended For Rest of Regular Season

Another Baltimore player has been suspended for using Adderall.

Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata was suspended for four games by the NFL after testing positive for the attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) drug, which is considered a performance-enhancing drug, and is banned under the league’s PED policy. The suspension was announced on Dec. 4, and comes at the start of a critical final month of the regular season, with half a dozen teams, including Baltimore and two of its upcoming opponents in December – Miami and Cleveland – sitting at 7-5. Ngata will be able to play again if the Ravens make the playoffs.

Ngata, a five-time Pro Bowler, is the second player on one of Baltimore’s pro teams to be suspended for using Adderall. Orioles first baseman Chris Davis was suspended in September after testing positive for the drug, and will have to sit out Opening Day 2015 for the final game of his 25-game suspension. Ngata also isn’t the first Raven to be suspended for Adderall. Cornerback Asa Jackson was suspended for the final four games of his rookie season in 2012 after testing positive, and again for the first half of the 2013 season after a second positive test.

UB Finance professor: don’t get too excited about falling gas prices

Many of us will be traveling to spend time and share special moments with friends and family this holiday season. While this year we’ll be experiencing less pain at the pump to go on our holiday travels, a professor in the Merrick School of Business says we shouldn’t be getting too excited about the drop in oil and gas prices.

In the Oct. 20 edition of The Baltimore Sun, Professor of Finance Steve Isberg said that while the decrease in gas prices is good for consumers, costs for other products such as food have continued to rise while salaries continue to remain mostly flat.

“I love it when I can fill up my tank for $60 instead of $75, but I don’t know if I’m going to jump for joy,” Isberg told The Sun. As of Nov. 14, the average price for regular unleaded in the greater Baltimore area was $2.88 a gallon, slightly lower than the Maryland state average of $2.90. That was down nearly 27 cents from a month earlier, and down 32 cents from a year earlier. Isberg says the current decrease in gas prices both in Maryland and across the country is part of a cyclical pattern.

“They’ve been ranging from a high of about $3.70 a gallon, and they’ve dropped to about $3.10 a gallon,” Isberg said while describing a line graph showing weekly average retail gas prices in the U.S. between mid- October 2012 and mid-September of this year. “They’ve been behaving within that range for the last two years.” In the chart, gas prices fell into the $3.10s in November of last year, and then went up over $3.60 a gallon during this spring and early summer before starting their current downward trend in July.”

“There are seasonal patterns. It’s usually high in the summer months, so if you take a look at any of the summer months, you’ll see that the gasoline prices are reasonably high,” Isberg said, referring to line graphs that showed average weekly gas prices over the last four, 14 and 24 years. “So, here again, reasonably high in the summer of 2014, and they typically do come down in the fall. So the fact that they’ve come down in the fall isn’t very much to get too excited about in and of itself.”

In the fall, oil refineries switch blends and start producing what’s known as the “winter blend” of gasoline, which is cheaper than the blend that’s produced for the summer. Isberg said that those seasonal patterns still showed themselves over the long-term, even as gas prices started rising through the 2000s.

“You can see that in the ’90s, from ’91 until about 2000, the prices are fairly stable, and varied within a very narrow range,” Isberg said.

The graph showed prices that were generally between $1 and $1.30 a gallon, and even dipping below a dollar a gallon in early 1999. Isberg said there was an increase in gas prices in 2000 and 2001 up to between $1.40 and $1.70, but then dropped back to just over $1 a gallon, and stabilized there. Then gas prices began trending upward.

“And then they steadily rose throughout that period from about 2002 to 2007 or so,” Isberg said. “You can still see the seasonal patterns, but you had a steady increase, and then when the bottom dropped out of the credit markets, at the same time the bottom dropped out of the commodity markets as well, particularly oil.”

In January 2008, gas was averaging over $4 a gallon; a year later, in the midst of the recession, gas had fallen to around $1.60 a gallon. Isberg says gas prices have been fairly stable since 2011, outside of the seasonal highs and lows.

“Usually you get a little spike up in the spring and again in the summer, so it very well could be that you see this turn back up,” Isberg said.

Refineries usually shut down during the spring for maintenance, and then prepare to make the switch to start producing the summer blend, which leads to gas prices rising annually during the spring and into the summer travel season.

“What would really excite me would be if we started to see this long-term trend start to decline, so if we continue to see these prices fall, and then get down into the low $2 range, which is where they were after the market dropped, and the $1.50 range where they were right around the turn of the (21st) century, that would be something to be a little bit more excited about,” Isberg said.

Crude oil prices have fallen from around $103 a barrel in late June to between $75 and $80 a barrel five months later. However, while the overall Consumer Price Index (CPI) annual inflation rate is at 2.36 percent since the beginning of 2000, with CPIs for transportation, housing and food also sitting between two and three percent, the CPI inflation rate for fuel stands at 5.31 percent, nearly double the 2.95 percent inflation rate for rental housing. The CPI with food and energy has gone up by nearly 40 percent since the beginning of 2000. Even without food and energy, the CPI has still gone up by more than 25 percent during that same time.

Turnovers and inconsistent offense continue to hurt Terrapins

After getting blown out by #20 Ohio State and a Wisconsin team that’s now ranked in the top 15, the Maryland Terrapins were looking to bounce back with a statement win in Big Ten play. They got it in Happy Valley, but appear to be reverting back to their old ways.

After Melvin Gordon ran for 122 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Badgers to a 52-7 win in Madison on Oct. 25, Maryland went to Penn State with a chip on its shoulder. A scuffle broke out during pregame warmups, with star receiver Stefon Diggs in the middle of the action. After order was restored, Diggs and the other two Maryland captains refused to shake hands with the Penn State captains at the opening coin toss, drawing a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Maryland had the last laugh at the end as the defense held the Nittany Lions to 42 yards rushing, and Brad Craddock kicked a 43-yard field goal with 51 seconds left in the fourth quarter to give the Terrapins a 20-19 win. However, after the game, the Big Ten fined Maryland $10,000, and suspended Diggs for the Terrapins’ next game against Michigan State.

Two weeks later, the 12th-ranked Spartans came to College Park looking to bounce back from a loss at home to Ohio State. They were welcomed by a Terps team and a Byrd Stadium crowd that was dressed in black for a cold nighttime matchup. Maryland, playing without Diggs, went three-and-out on two out of first three possessions, and C.J. Brown threw an interception, but the defense was able to hold Michigan State to three field goals. After Michael Geiger gave Michigan State a 9-0 lead with 10:33 left in the first half, Will Likely returned the ensuing kickoff 52 yards to the Spartans’ 41-yard line. Five plays and 1:52 later, Brown connected with Daniel Adams for a 20-yard touchdown pass to pull Maryland to within 9-7. However, Jeremy Langford seized the momentum back for Michigan State with an eight-yard touchdown run to make it 16-7 at halftime.

The Spartans would start to pull away in the second half. With 1:14 left in the third quarter, R.J. Williamson picked off a Brown pass and returned it 22 yards for a touchdown to give Michigan State a 23-7 lead. In the fourth quarter, after Maryland was unable to put a drive together after getting the ball at its own 48 and had to punt, Spartans quarterback Connor Cook engineered an eight-play, 77-yard drive that ended when Langford scored his second touchdown of the night on a 25-yard run with just over seven minutes left. Three minutes later, Brown hit receiver Juwan Winfree for a 31-yard touchdown pass, and then found freshman tight end Derrick Hayward for the two- point conversion to pull Maryland within two scores at 30-15. Less than a minute later, Spartans running back Nick Hill scored on a 33-yard run to close out the scoring in a 37-15 win for Michigan State (8-2, 5-1 Big Ten). The Spartans held the Terrapins to just six yards rushing, and Brown had three interceptions in another game where he struggled with consistency throwing the ball. Likely had 228 return yards for Maryland (6-4, 3-3 Big Ten).

Maryland will close out the season at a struggling Michigan Wolverines team at The Big House in Ann Arbor on Nov. 22, followed by the regular season finale at home against Rutgers on Nov. 29.

Ravens hurt by injuries, poor play in secondary

The secondary was considered a weak spot for the Ravens coming into the 2014 season. Now, that weak spot is catching up with them.

Baltimore came into its bye week at 6-4 and in last place in the competitive AFC North, where all four teams have winning records. However, the Ravens currently have a losing record against the division (2-3) after losing both games to Cincinnati and splitting their two games against Pittsburgh. The secondary was badly exposed by Ben Roethlisberger, who threw for six touchdowns for the second straight game to lead the Steelers to a 43-23 win over the Ravens on “Sunday Night Football” on Nov. 2.

The game got nasty, as linebackers Terrell Suggs and Courtney Upshaw were both fined for illegal hits. Suggs was fined $8,262 for a late hit on Steelers running back LeGarrete Blount, and Upshaw was fined $20,000 for a hit in the neck area on Roethlisberger. During the week that followed, top cornerback Jimmy Smith underwent foot surgery, and will be out for the rest of the season. The Ravens also shook up their secondary by releasing cornerback Chykie Brown and Dominique Franks, promoting Tramain Jacobs from the practice squad, and give more playing time to safety Anthony Levine. The moves seemed to work, as the defense shut down the Tennessee offense and help the Ravens go into their bye week with a 21-7 win over the Titans on Nov. 9.

While the secondary is struggling, the outside linebacker duo of Suggs and Elvis Dumervil are causing major problems for offensive lines and quarterbacks. Dumervil is second in the NFL with 10 and a half sacks, while Suggs has five of his own. Rookie linebacker C.J. Mosely has 90 tackles, including four for loss, and also has two interceptions and a fumble recovery. The Ravens are fifth against the run, allowing just under 85 rushing yards per game, but with their problems in the secondary are 21st in pass defense, allowing just over 251 passing yards per game.

Even with those issues in the secondary, the Ravens are still fifth in scoring defense, allowing just 18.1 points per game. Baltimore has struggled with consistency on offense at times, but is 10th in the league in rushing, averaging just over 124 yards per game. Quarterback Joe Flacco has the Ravens squarely in the middle of the league at 16th in passing, averaging just under 241 yards per game. Baltimore is tied for sixth in the league in scoring, averaging 26.1 points per game, even after losing tight end Dennis Pitta to a hip injury for the second straight season.

The Ravens will wrap up November by going to New Orleans for Monday Night Football on Nov. 24, and then will wrap up Thanksgiving weekend by welcoming San Diego on Nov. 30. Baltimore will go to Miami for the second straight season on Dec. 7, and then host Jacksonville on Dec. 14. The Ravens will go to Houston to face J.J. Watt and the Texans on Dec. 21, and then will have a chance to even their record against the division when they wrap up the regular season at home against Cleveland in Week 17. Given how tight the AFC North is, the game is likely to have major playoff implications.