The following is a conversation between Kara Medoff Barnett, Executive Director of American Ballet Theater, and Denver Frederick, Host of The Business of Giving on AM 970 The Answer in New York City.
Denver: It is said that ballet is a dance executed by the human soul, and that ballet dancers are among the greatest living athletes. American Ballet Theater, located here in New York, is considered to be one of the great dance companies in the world. And in 2006 by an act of Congress, it became America’s National Ballet Company. It’s a great pleasure to have with us their Executive Director, Kara Medoff Barnett. Good evening, Kara, and welcome to The Business of Giving.
Kara: Thank you, Denver. Thrilled to be here.
Denver: ABT was founded back in 1939. That’s almost 80 years ago. Share with us a little bit of the history of American Ballet Theater.
Kara: Absolutely. It’s an honor to serve this organization as we approach our 80th birthday. I’ve only been with the organization for two years, but I’ve admired it ever since I was a little girl coming to see the ballet with my mother. I grew up in North Carolina and always admired ABT. Had posters of American Ballet Theater dancers on my walls, so it really is a thrill to now be part of this organization.
The company, as you mentioned, was organized in 1939, had its first public performance in January of 1940. Founded by a woman, a formidable female leader named Lucia Chase. The company was founded to really bring together talent from around the world and to form this American company that had an eclectic repertoire, that preserved the classics of the art form, but also that worked with the greatest living creators… with incredible choreographers and designers and composers, and brought them together to extend the art form of classical ballet. We continue in that tradition today, and our mission is not only to preserve the great classics of the past, but to extend the canon of classical dance.
Our dancers really pride themselves on their acting, and I think that the theater part of our name really sets us apart…I am consistently inspired by the storytelling and the artistry, but I’m also inspired by the athleticism and the sheer strength, paired with the grace, of the ballet dancers in American Ballet Theater.
Denver: Why don’t you inspire us, Kara? Give us some appreciation of ballet, the essence of the art form, the form of communication, the dancers themselves.
Kara: I think ballet is a primal form of communication. It is the movement of human bodies through space. American Ballet Theater does that in a unique way because of the theater part of our name. Dancers join American Ballet Theater because they want to tell stories. Sometimes those stories are clear narratives– whether it’s Romeo and Juliet or Swan Lake. Sometimes, they’re more abstract, but the dancers embody characters, embody feelings, embody relationships. I’ve always enjoyed in watching American Ballet Theater, how you get to know these individuals; how you come to see how they approach the art and the art form and the storytelling as actors.
Our dancers really pride themselves on their acting, and I think that the theater part of our name really sets us apart. I also think that the athleticism of the dancers is something that inspires broad audiences. I know that my husband, who’s a former athlete, always remarks to me after he goes to the ballet, “Wow, what they can do with their bodies, and how they can control their bodies! How they can make it look so easy and effortless!” Maybe the energy expended is similar to what a pro-athlete might expend in a soccer match or a basketball game, but they’re allowed to sweat. They’re allowed to put their hands on their knees and take a breather. These dancers are out there embodying these characters, telling me stories, and making it look graceful and effortless. I am consistently inspired by the storytelling and the artistry, but I’m also inspired by the athleticism and the sheer strength, paired with the grace, of the ballet dancers in American Ballet Theater.
I think that we’re striving for an ideal, striving for a feeling, striving for that elusive, transcendent joy that we have the great privilege of experiencing in the theater many times a year– and sometimes even many times a week– when you have the opportunity to experience what it is that this company does, what it is that ABT brings to life on stage when the lights go down, and the curtain rises.
Denver: I think you even said that the product you bring the public every day is perfection.
Kara: We strive for perfection. That certainly is the aspiration. Dancers, in general, are perfectionists, but they also realize that perfection is elusive. And that’s why they show up every morning and start their day with the ritual of ballet class. They are always striving to be better, to be stronger, to perfect their technique, to extend what’s possible for them in their bodies and working together as a cohesive whole, as a team to elevate this art form that we all revere, but that we all want people to enjoy.
So, how do you strive for – perhaps, you strive almost beyond perfection because perfection is too safe. I think that we’re striving for an ideal, striving for a feeling, striving for that elusive, transcendent joy that we have the great privilege of experiencing in the theater many times a year– and sometimes even many times a week– when you have the opportunity to experience what it is that this company does, what it is that ABT brings to life on stage when the lights go down, and the curtain rises.
Denver: Speaking of enjoy, do you have a favorite ballet?
Kara: We’re not supposed to have a favorite when you’re the executive director. I think it’s like having a favorite child when you’re a mother. But I will say that Romeo and Juliet brings me to tears every single time I see it. I came to ballet after a career in the theater. I produced on Broadway and off-Broadway theater, and I’ve seen a lot of Romeo and Juliets – live theater, on screen. There is nothing like the ballet Romeo and Juliet – Kenneth MacMillan’s, Prokofiev’s score. And to see these different dancers inhabit the roles, and not only to inhabit the roles of Romeo and Juliet, but of Lady Capulet and of Tybalt, and of Paris, and of Mercutio. Each time I see it, the chemistry is different. What the dancers bring to the drama is different, and it always moves me. So, I have to say Romeo and Juliet. Then I’ll tell you 12 close second places.
Denver: What is the current state of ballet in 2018? It always seemed it had a golden period with Baryshnikov back in the ‘60s, ‘70s…whenever that was… and fell out of favor. But there seems to be a bit of a resurgence now. That’s just my assessment, which isn’t very good. What is your assessment?
Kara: My assessment is that it’s more than a resurgence. I think that ballet is hot right now. I think that ballet is exciting for our audiences, and we’re attracting a younger and more diverse audience than ever before. I think that part of that is because ballet looks great on a small screen. So the power of social media, the power of video is working in our favor. It is not working in the favor of every classical art form. I think that theater, opera, classical music– it’s hard to capture those art forms in a short form way, on a small screen that makes the viewer say, “I’ve got to go see that. I have to experience that!”
You can watch 6 seconds of ballet or 6 minutes of ballet or 30 seconds of a dancer leaping or spinning or balancing on your phone, and you’re hooked. I think that we have a very powerful tool, and we are only scratching the surface of how best to use it to attract and inspire and spark the curiosity of new audiences for this art form.
…I have certainly shifted from taking care of their bodies to hopefully tending to the human spirit.
Denver: You went to Duke, planning to follow in your dad’s footsteps and become a doctor. So, you’ve taken pre-med and you’re working on the emergency response vehicle. How in the world did that ride on the ambulance ultimately take you all the way to New York to become the executive director of American Ballet Theater?
Kara: I think that the common thread is the adrenaline. Whether you’re on an ambulance, or you’re backstage at the Met, there’s a lot happening all at once. And someone’s got to coordinate that activity. So, I think there are some similarities. But I did think that I wanted to be a doctor, and what attracted me about practicing medicine was caring for others and taking care of other human beings. I think that I have certainly shifted from taking care of their bodies to hopefully tending to the human spirit by sustaining this art form and by bringing it to the lives of not only our dancers and our artists, but our staff members, our students and our school and our audiences in New York and around the world.
I think that when I came home one vacation and told my parents that instead of being a doctor, I was going to be a theater producer, that shift for me was that I didn’t want to spend the next several years in the lab. I really craved interaction with other human beings. And when I discovered that there were roles in the arts where I could use my talents and skills, which certainly were not on the stage but were behind the scenes, in a way that could build community and could create an environment in which artists could thrive… That to me became tremendously exciting, and I think became a calling.
Denver: Your folks were cool with that decision to boot.
Kara: My folks were amazing. They were supportive. I think they were stunned and astonished and ultimately believed that I could do whatever I set my mind to doing. I think part of that was because I had trained as a dancer as a kid, and they had seen the fierce determination and discipline that I had developed in the studio. And they knew that if I set my mind to something, that I would pursue it, all in. So, they continued to put LSAT books and GMAT books on my bed when I would visit my home in North Carolina. But they also really loved coming up to New York for the opening nights.
Denver: The artistic director of ABT is Kevin McKenzie, and he’s held that post, I think, since 1992. Tell us a little bit about him and the relationship between an artistic director and an executive director in a performing arts organization.
Kara: I feel very blessed to have Kevin McKenzie as a partner, as a guru, as I learn the intricacies and the history and the legacy of this company and this art form. I think it was a bit intimidating when I realized that I would be coming into an organization… not only that had 75 years of history and legacy, but an artistic director who had almost 25 years as the artistic leader, and before that had been a principal dancer with the company. Here was someone who knew so much more about ballet than I did. Kevin has been from Day one: patient, has been kind, has been welcoming, has been supportive, and I think one of the most entrepreneurial leaders you’ll ever meet.
When I frame an idea and say, “Kevin, this might be crazy but how about…” He says, “Tell me 10 good reasons why not.” I’m deeply grateful for the sense of possibility that he brings to every conversation, to every decision, and also to the community that he’s created at ABT. This is a company that’s had its ups and downs over the decades; that has by force of sheer will survived many of the tumultuous periods in its history. And Kevin has been a steady center and has been a source of strength for the artistic enterprise. The dancers adore him. He has truly built so many careers and has also built a sense of pride and camaraderie and kindness and mutual respect in the artistic organization at ABT. It’s something I’ve never experienced in my entire career in the performing arts. Kevin has created a remarkable community.
He’s an engine. He pushes us to think boldly. To plan ambitiously. He really brings out of the dancers things that no one thought was possible.
Denver: You also have an artist-in-residence, don’t you? Tell us about him and the role that he plays in the company.
Kara: Alexei Ratmansky is our artist-in-residence, and he is a genius. The MacArthur Foundation said that, so I can say that too. But it’s extraordinary to have someone like Alexei in our midst creating new work for our dancers with our team. He’s an engine. He pushes us to think boldly. To plan ambitiously. He really brings out of the dancers things that no one thought was possible. Whether he’s asking them to inhabit a more refined style of the turn of the century when he recreates something like Petipa’s Sleeping Beauty, or more recently, Petipa’s Harlequinade, which he did for us this spring season.
When he does that, he is studying the master and unpacking the notes of Petipa and really asking the dancers to go back into another time. He takes the artist and the audiences into a time capsule. Then he uses that knowledge that he gains from studying the master to create some of the most exciting and extraordinary works of art that I’ve ever witnessed. Whipped Cream, which is a ballet he created for us last year, is set to a Richard Strauss’s score from the ‘20s, but the movement vocabulary and the sense of humor is very much 2017. It’s whimsical, and it’s fanciful, and it’s fun, and it’s hard. The dancers are being asked to do things and fit more movements into a phrase of music than anyone thinks is humanly possible, but Alexei thinks it’s possible, and therefore, it must be so. He brings to the table just brilliant collaborators like Mark Ryden, the popstar realist artist who created the sets and costumes for Whipped Cream. Alexei says, “This is the guy. He’s going to create this magical world where sweets come to life.” And that’s what happened. All of a sudden, we have dancers entering by slide. Dancers in white unitards who become the whipped cream of the title because they’re spinning like an electric mixer just whisking up the cream, and they’re entering by slide! It’s hilarious! It’s brilliant. It’s transporting. And it all comes out of the brilliant mind of Alexei Ratmansky.
Denver: It’s playing this coming week, by the way, and that will be the close of your Spring season. But you’ve just announced your Fall season. Tell us about that. What’s in store? And also, where do you perform?
Kara: The Fall season for ABT is where we have even more space to extend the canon. We are doing several world premieres this fall. We do two weeks at the David Koch Theater, at Lincoln Center in October; we open on October 17th. This fall, we’re focusing on female creators and women choreographers as part of the ABT Women’s Movement. ABT, as I mentioned earlier founded by a woman, founded by Lucia Chase. Agnes de Mille had a piece on our very first program in 1940. Twyla Tharp has created many of her great pieces for ABT. So, we’ve certainly had powerful and brilliant women creating for ABT over the decades, but in recent years, Kevin McKenzie has decided to focus on supporting and advancing and propelling the opportunities for women choreographers.
So, this fall, we will have a world premiere by Michelle Dorrance, the tap dancer and choreographer who created her first piece for ABT this spring at the Met. We will have a new piece by Jessica Lang who’s been working with ABT on and off for 20 years. She will collaborate with Sarah Crowner, an incredible visual artist based in Brooklyn. We will also bring back some favorites by Twyla Tharp. We will put on the stage at the Koch Theater a piece that Lauren Lovette created for the ABT Studio Company. In addition, we’ll celebrate Jerome Robbins with Fancy Free and other dances. So, we’ll have some old favorites mixed with some cutting-edge, exciting new work.
We have two weeks left in our spring season. I am counting down the days until October, so that I can see all of these new works come to life with the ABT dancers. It’s two weeks of intense fun and energy and vibrancy and eclecticism in the spirit of how this company was founded to have a vibrant and diverse repertoire and work with the most talented creators of our time who are working in dance.
Denver: It sounds like a wonderful blend. You have a couple other programs there, and I want to talk about those. One, in your effort to increase diversity inclusion, you launched something called Project Plié maybe about five years ago. How did you go about this, and how successful has it been, Kara?
Kara: Project Plié is our initiative to expand ethnic and racial diversity and representation in classical ballet. This was started under my predecessor, and it’s something that I am deeply committed to and that the entire organization is committed to. We certainly focus on the talent pipeline, in our school, in our summer programs and our training programs because we want to see diversity on the stage. We also are focused on diversity behind the scenes. That’s an area where I’ve been working closely with colleagues and drawing on the learnings of experts to figure out how we can also expand diversity in our administrative staff, in our internship programs, in our board of directors and our leadership. Also in our audiences.
How can we think about this holistically, so that we not only are supporting ballet teachers working in communities of color, and not only so that we can support and advance the careers of dancers of color. But how can we also make it possible for individuals from under-represented communities to pursue careers in this art form and in the performing arts, in many of the different jobs and roles and leadership positions that we have available? We are actively propelling Project Plié, and also thinking about what’s next. How do we build on the early success of Project Plié, which now has us in over 40 cities working with boys and girls clubs and introducing the magic of ballet? What’s next? What’s Project Plié 2.0 so that we can really make this a 360-degree approach to diversity and inclusion? It’s incumbent on us as America’s National Ballet Company to find ways to reflect America and American diversity and American dynamism.
Denver: A couple of weeks ago, you announced a new choreography initiative called ABT Incubator. How is that going to work?
Kara: This is tremendously exciting. It’s all about extending the canon. It’s all about finding new creative talent from within, and also identifying choreographers who maybe haven’t yet had the opportunity to work with American Ballet Theater dancers. This is propelled by David Hallberg, one of our principal dancers.
The idea is a workshop, a very private but intense opportunity for ABT dancers to try their hand at choreography. David and Kevin McKenzie will also be inviting in one or two choreographers from the outside to work with the ABT dancers. It will be a two-week workshop in late October, early November. We want to bring new movement vocabularies, to bring new choreographic ideas into the ABT ecosystem and see what percolates. See what emerges.
So, we’re not making any predictions. We are just saying, “Let’s put talented people in a room, talented dancers, talented choreographers and see what happens.” I think there are many different paths that the pieces created could take. We are committed to doing this every year and to growing the program in the future.
Denver: Very cool initiative. Like so many nonprofit organizations, Kara, so much time and money and effort is dedicated to the service or the product, or in your case, the performance. Everything goes on the stage. When that happens, sometimes the infrastructure or the scaffolding that helps support all that work goes a little neglected. And I know that’s a bit of the situation you found when you came to ABT. What are some of the steps you’ve taken to sort of strengthen, revitalize that infrastructure?
Kara: ABT is an organization that is almost 80 years old, and it is remarkable that the artistry on the stage, when that curtain rises, it is glorious. It is magical. As you mentioned, there’s perhaps some deferred maintenance behind the scenes on that scaffolding, even while we continue to support that magic on the stage. So, I have been committed, together with Kevin and my colleagues and our board of trustees, to strengthening our infrastructure, strengthening our foundations so that we can continue to have that magic when the curtain rises for many generations to come.
We think about infrastructure in several different buckets. One is our physical infrastructure, our home. We’ve been at 890 Broadway since 1980. We have done a few exciting upgrades to our home. The Lounge, which we were thrilled to collaborate with Architectural Digest to create a common space, a community gathering space that is really beautiful and inviting, and a place where our dancers, our staff, our donors can come together and spend time building community. It is the only gathering space that we have in our home. We are thrilled that thanks to Architectural Digest, it now is really an elegant place to be together.
Denver: Everything was donated, which is spectacular.
Kara: Everything was donated. We had an anonymous donor who provided some of the basic infrastructure, and then Architectural Digest brought many sponsors to the table who just made it… it is the living room that you and I probably wish we had in our homes, but luckily I now have it at my office at ABT’s headquarters. My second home. One is our place and just being proud of the place that we all go to work every day.
Number two is the people and thinking about our staff structure and thinking about our board of trustees and how can we recruit and retain top talent at all levels. Certainly, Kevin is always thinking about recruitment and retention of our artists and our dancers, but how do we make sure that our staff is as excellent, that everyone is A-plus, top-tier, and that we have the right functions in place to be able to deliver on our ambitious goals?
Number three is our digital infrastructure. I inherited a website that I think was over a decade old and was not mobile-ly enabled. And if we want to be able to communicate with our fans, with our audiences, with our broad community, our mission is to reach the widest possible audience. In today’s day and age, you can’t reach the widest possible audience if you have an antique and unreliable website. So, we were fortunate to have a website donated by one of our trustees this past year. If you visit ABT.org, it’ll work on your mobile phone, and it actually is quite easy to navigate and to find information. So, we’re thrilled.
Denver: You just gave it a facelift. Also, you have an art form that really sells on your mobile phone.
Kara: We’re thrilled to have a new digital backbone, and now we are investing in video and in building assets to fill that new digital home. We talk about it as a home that now needs furniture. Now we’re going to build some of the video furniture that can fill that home and decorate it and make it a place that people want to hang out.
Then the financial infrastructure is also an area where I think we have room for improvement, and we’ve certainly made some major strides in recent years, really investing in new work and investing in ABT’s future.
We have raised significant funds from generous donors, including a matching grant to support new work by our artist-in-residence and to allow us to plan ahead for a steady, reliable stream of new work…
Denver: You are a fundraiser extraordinaire, which is a great asset to have if you’re leading a performing arts organization in New York. Tell us a little bit about that business model and some of your partners and some of your sources of support.
Kara: I think that the most exciting fundraising initiative and the most meaningful fundraising initiative that we’ve launched in recent years, is called the Ratmansky Project. We have raised significant funds from generous donors, including a matching grant to support new work by our artist-in-residence and to allow us to plan ahead for a steady, reliable stream of new work from this incredible artist-in-residence… so that we know that with Alexei, we can plan not just one year out, but two, three, four, five years out. So that we know when we are going to be able to produce and launch new ballets. That’s been transformative for our financial backbone and also transformative for our artistic planning.
…we had faith in our ability to raise the funds necessary to pursue big ideas and to have the artistic engine leading the way… we were there to support the artistic vision of our incredible artistic gurus and leading lights.
Denver: You have been the executive director of ABT for a couple of years now. What is the most difficult choice, or the most difficult decision you’ve had to make thus far?
Kara: The most difficult decision was in my first month on the job where I was asked to greenlight the production of Whipped Cream. This was a dream project for Alexei Ratmansky and for Kevin McKenzie. It sounded spectacular from the first description. However, we didn’t have the funds in place to produce it. I learned that if we didn’t greenlight it immediately, that we would have to wait several years because the creative team would not be available, and we wouldn’t have the time in our schedule. We have a very robust touring schedule which we haven’t even talked about yet. We wouldn’t have the time in ABT’s schedule to produce this work for many years if we didn’t greenlight it right away and bring it in in the 2017 season.
It was a decision of: should we swing for the fences and put our faith in the new work that was yet to be created, but that we knew who was behind the scenes and have faith in their vision and have faith in our own fundraising potential? Or would we make perhaps the more cautious, perhaps the more safe decision to say, “You know what? Let’s wait a few years. I’ve just arrived. I’ve only been here for a few weeks. Let’s get through a year or two first and then take this bold leap.”
Together with Kevin, and together with our board leadership, we said, “This is what we’re here to do. We are here to fulfill ABT’s mission, and ABT’s mission is to preserve, but also to extend.” We have the opportunity to extend the canon of classical ballet with new work by our artist-in-residence. It is an exciting new ballet, and this is what we should be doing. So, we will commit to finding the resources. We will commit to making this happen.” It turned out to be a bold decision and perhaps a scary decision at that time, but it was ultimately I think a decision that was important for my partnership with Kevin, that was important for our board to see that we had great ambitions, and that we had faith in our ability to raise the funds necessary to pursue big ideas and to have the artistic engine leading the way…. That we were there to support the artistic vision of our incredible artistic gurus and leading lights.
I think that there is strength in proximity, strength in awareness. But I think that we have to also underscore and foster a sense of community that is coherent and cohesive and goes beyond the silos of artistic and administrative.
Denver: A wonderful leap of faith. Are there challenges in bringing the artistic side and the administrative side of a performing arts organization together? I hear that so often from so many of your colleagues. How do you do it? What have you learned about that?
Kara: I think that the more interaction among human beings, the better. We’re fortunate in that our staff offices and our dance studios are pretty much on top of each other. You can’t avoid the art if you are an administrative staff member, and you can’t avoid the administrative staff if you’re a dancer. You trip over them on your way to the barre. I think that there is strength in proximity, strength in awareness. But I think that we have to also underscore and foster a sense of community that is coherent and cohesive and goes beyond the silos of artistic and administrative.
One thing that Kevin and I have done over the past few years is introduced all staff convenings. Sometimes that’s in the form of a party, and sometimes that’s in the form of a meeting. But opportunities for people to come together, not only dancers and staff, but we invite the orchestra. We invite the crew. We invite the teaching faculty from our school. And idea is we come together and we share our triumphs. We share our challenges. Sometimes we share a happy hour and a cocktail, but the opportunity is there to meet individuals who are engaged in this endeavor, in this really challenging endeavor that we all believe in. Everyone is there because they believe in it. So, I think it’s important that the dancer gets to meet the electrician and that the fundraiser gets to meet the clarinetist. I think that those conversations that we can have informally and formally– when we ask people to report to their peers and colleagues– that those opportunities for communication across silos are hugely important.
ABT as a touring company already has a unique sense of community because we travel around the world together, but only 130 people travel around the world together. I know that sounds big; we’re one of the largest cultural institutions that regularly tours. But there are individuals on the team who don’t travel with the company. So, how can we take that sense of family that you build when you’re on the road together and bring that back to our home in New York, and have a more expansive sense of family for everyone who is working so hard, so tirelessly to bring the magic of American Ballet Theater to the stage and to sustain this remarkable art form?
We have individuals who reflect the communities in which we’re performing, as a magnet for talent, also as a provider of transcendent experiences, of joyful experiences, of art that takes us out of our daily lives and shows us what’s possible, that shows us the limitlessness of human experience and achievement.
Denver: Let me pick up on what you said about the world, and let me get you out on this. You were at Lincoln Center before assuming this position at ABT. Your job there was building out the international arm of Lincoln Center. What’s your thinking around ABT and the role that it should play as a cultural ambassador of the United States around the globe, and also your vision for the organization as you head into your Centennial 20 years hence?
Kara: I was very fortunate at Lincoln Center to start Lincoln Center International and to work with leaders around the world– government leaders, philanthropic leaders, leaders in education who were investing in the future of art and culture in their communities. Often, they were investing the hardware. They were investing in the new opera houses and concert halls in cultural districts, and we had the opportunity to advise them and collaborate with them. Now, at ABT, I feel like I have moved from working for the arena to working for the team.
What we have at American Ballet Theater is a collection of individuals, of individual artists who together bring the arts and the experience of the arts to life. The art form that we have the great honor of extending and bringing to the widest possible audience is an art form that doesn’t require language, that is, as I said earlier, a primal form of communication. So, we are perfectly positioned to be cultural ambassadors. We have dancers from 27 states and 16 countries in the company right now. That means that anywhere we go, when we tour around the country and across the world, we have a hometown hero. We have someone who can speak the local language and talk about what it is that we do. We have individuals who reflect the communities in which we’re performing… as a magnet for talent, also as a provider of transcendent experiences, of joyful experiences, of art that takes us out of our daily lives and shows us what’s possible, that shows us the limitlessness of human experience and achievement.
When we travel, whether it’s to Muscat in Oman, whether it’s to Hong Kong and Singapore where we just were with Whipped Cream and Swan Lake, whether it’s to Lincoln, Nebraska where we had two sold-out shows of Fire Bird this past spring; in all of these places, we, I believe, are bringing the best of America and the best of what it means to have a community of talent that works together as a team to bring joy to audiences. I think that there is something in that that’s very powerful, that is I believe unique in this world where communication can be challenged at times across borders and boundaries.
Even within our own country, there’s so much animosity right now. But across political lines, across all sorts of borders and boundaries, the language of ballet and the storytelling and artistry and vibrancy and vitality of American Ballet Theater brings communities together. When we fill those opera houses and theaters around the world; this team fills those arenas with a sense of possibility and a sense of community that I think is deeply important in our world today and tomorrow.
Denver: Kara Medoff-Barnett, the Executive Director of American Ballet Theater, I want to thank you so much for being here this evening. Tell us about that new website of yours, and Whipped Cream! Now, I know that’s playing this week. Is it still possible to get tickets?
Kara: If you act quickly. It’s a tremendously fun way to spend a couple of hours out of the heat and inside the air conditioning of the Metropolitan Opera House. It is a ballet about a boy who eats too many sweets after his confirmation. He goes with his friends to a pastry shop, eats too many sweets, too much whipped cream, falls ill and retreats into his dreams where all of the sweets come to life. So, you have Princess Praline; you have Prince Coffee. It is fanciful. It is fun. The dancing is extraordinary. I do highly recommend it. It’s terrific for people of all ages. My kids, I have three young daughters who adore this ballet. It might be my husband’s favorite ballet too. I think that shows his love for chocolate. It really also demonstrates the innovation that we’re committed to at American Ballet Theater of creating new classics, and I think that this truly is one. Don’t miss it. It’s great fun.
Denver: Sounds like a hoot. Act quickly. Thank you, Kara. It was a real pleasure to have you on the program.
Kara: Thank you very much for having me. Thrilled to be here.
Denver: I’ll be back with more of The Business of Giving right after this.
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