by Lizzie Leopold
Balance seems like a potent metaphor for running a dance company. High on releve, eyes fixed on one still point, center held tight, arms strong, shoulders relaxed and just a little bit of luck…
Whether you are a one-man-show, wearing all the hats yourself, or an organization with a hundred employees, the balance of the artistic and administrative branches is a significant challenge. The priority to make new, exciting dances and the priority to run a solvent, growing business continually compete for top billing.
One of my favorite explanations of this divide comes from twentieth century German-born philosopher Theodor Adorno. He calls it culture vs. administration. Culture, the artistic branch, is the reflection of pure humanity without any regard for its functional relationships within society. It is defined by a spontaneity and is not concerned with expansion or preservation. One the other end, Adorno’s administration is the task done “looking down from on high,” that assembles, distributes, evaluates and organizes. Administration has the unavoidable tendency towards expansion, both quantitatively and qualitatively. These categories slip seamlessly and eerily onto the mold of the not-for-profit dance company.
The two branches are both completely opposed and yet completely dependent on one another. The challenge from the outset is a precarious balancing of artistic vision and commerce, a dance between art and money carefully choreographed by the artist and facilitated by the board of directors and administrative team. [Read more…]