Ballet AZ Blog

1 May 2019

The Power of New Works

A Letter from Executive Director Samantha Turner

 "The Firebird."
Ballet Arizona in Ib Andersen’s “The Firebird.” Photo by Alexander Iziliaev.

I hope you were able to be part of the world premiere of The Firebird in February. From the opening night celebration to the final performance, it was a grand experience: the excitement of something new and unexpected, the gratitude for Don and Barbara Ottosen’s generous underwriting of the work, the unfolding of Ib Andersen’s vision, and so much more.

New works are essential to the health of the ballet art form, inviting new ideas and interpretations, challenging artists mentally and physically, and keeping the art relevant in our changing world. The pairing of The Firebird and La Sylphide couldn’t have been a better opportunity to see the evolution of ballet. August Bournonville’s work, one of the oldest surviving ballets, was filled with the both the traditions of classical ballet as well as one of its early evolutions – the use of pointe as a part of the story telling and not just as a physical feat. Ib Andersen’s The Firebird took Igor Stravinsky’s music, ground-breaking even now, and told the mythical story in a dramatic new way, combining classical choreography with contemporary ballet.

What you might not realize is that as much as new work is important to the life of the art, it is equally important to the health of the organization. For example:

  • Our Prima Circle membership level grew three percent in the weeks after The Firebird & La Sylphide. This group of donors is the foundation of our individual support, whose annual gifts of $1,500 or more provide nearly a third of contributions. They make our productions, school and community engagement programs possible.
  • More first-time patrons attended New Moves last September, when Ballet Arizona presented the work of Justin Peck – 32 percent more than last season’s Today’s Masters production. These new patrons are future subscribers and donors, as well as enthusiastic advocates to other people who have not yet experienced the ballet.
  • Subscriptions for the current season grew 12 percent and renewals for the 2019-2020 season are also coming in at a higher than historical rate. Keeping and growing relationships with the company’s most passionate supporters is the underpinning of a stable patron base.

Support of new works keeps everything about the ballet alive – the artistic vision, the dancers’ skills, the passion of long-time patrons and the curiosity of the next generation of audiences. We are grateful to the many donors who are committed to this critically important part of the ballet.

"In Creases."
Ballet Arizona in Justin Peck’s “In Creases.” Photo by Alexander Iziliaev.

Click here to learn about our New Works Initiative

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