Artistic director Marcello Angelini teaching class at Tulsa Ballet. Courtesy Tulsa Ballet.
I spend a lot of time reflecting on the direction dance is heading. How do we chart the trajectory of our field? Simple: Through the choices we make when crafting our seasons, the works and choreographers we invite to be part of our repertoire. Fostering the creation of new art is the most important responsibility of every artistic director.
Let me start with a confession: Growing up, I was the type of dancer who believed that there was only one kind of real dance: Ballet! Everything else was for the unchosen ones; other dances were fabricated by humans for the large masses who were not selected by Terpsichore. Dance was human. Ballet was divine.
Fast forward 30 years. I'm the artistic director of Tulsa Ballet, and I now understand that ballet was just a step in the evolution of dance, a journey that started with the Homo sapiens and has taken us to Broadway and hip hop. Now, at age 57, I appreciate ballet but love contemporary dance. But my passion? It resides in Broadway!
Aspen Santa Fe Ballet in Nicolo Fonte's The Heart(s)pace. Photo by Sharen Bradford, Courtesy ASFB
Small- to medium-sized companies based in cities outside dance meccas—New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles—are often written off as "regional," or somehow lesser than their big city counterparts. But in recent decades, a few have defied such categorization as they've gained traction on the national and international scene.
So how does a company build an international profile without losing connection to its hometown? We asked the directors of Tulsa Ballet, Aspen Santa Fe Ballet and Sarasota Ballet to share their strategies.