The team members at the Library as Incubator Project have been big fans of Diablo Ballet, a company located in County Costa, California, since the project began over a year ago. So, it is with great pleasure that we welcome the company’s Marketing Director, Dan Meagher, to the site today.
Most impressive about this company’s program partnerships with libraries is the depth and range of their programs. From classic ballet + literature pairings like The Nutcracker story times to a dance exercise program for senior citizens, Diablo Ballet goes to great lengths to bring dance education, dance history, and dance performance to audiences of all kinds.
What are the benefits of working with libraries, that you and your company have experienced?
Diablo Ballet loves working with libraries because the folks who use our local libraries are smart, creative, curious, and support the arts. Our programs attract a wide variety of people – from those who love ballet to those who have never been to a dance performance but want to know more. We did a talk recently about our November performances and a lady came up after and said, “I thought I hated ballet as these years, but now that I heard what goes into it, I want to come see you!” I love that!
We have found such a welcome environment in working with many of our Contra Costa libraries. They’re so willing to bring in new ideas and topics. I can be in touch with a talk idea one day and have it booked by the next! We really appreciate all their help.
What advice do you have for the best/most effective way for arts organizations to partner with libraries?
If you are not working with your local library, you need to! You will not find a more appreciate and receptive audience.
Libraries are a fantastic way to reach out to your community. I truly believe that non-profit organizations must get out there and meet the people that they are suppose to serve.
Libraries are very open and willing to consider any ideas you might have. Maybe it’s a talk series. Maybe a story time for children. Maybe you’d like to do a film festival. Ask them and find out what they want to bring to their patrons. I have found nothing but support for our wonderful branches in Contra Costa County. We could not ask for a better partner!
Some events we have worked on in partnership with our local libraries:
Talk series: In 2011 – 2012, we did a talk presentation at 3 Contra Costa libraries (San Ramon, Orinda, Moraga) called Black Swan And Beyond: Inside the Life of a Professional Ballet Dancer, where our dancers talks about their careers. We incorporated costumes and video with the discussion and it was a big hit.
Story Times: Diablo Ballet has a popular children’s story time which has visited numerous branches over the years. Most of the year, our dancers bring to life Angelina Ballerina. But during the holidays, our Nutcracker Story Time is huge. Our costumed dancers read a special interactive version of the story which we have created ourselves. So, not only do the dancer’s participate, but so do the children! We just did one last week at the Alameda Free Library where over 250 families and children attended.
Dance on Film series: I’m very big on promoting dance through different media and thought that showing dance through popular films would work. And boy..did it! We partnered with the Lafayette Library to do three screenings this past summer from July – September. All we sold out.
New Senior Program: We were thrilled to receive a grant from the Lafayette Community Foundation to produce a senior activity. By partnering with the Lafayette Library and the Lafayette Senior Services this summer we’re creating a new movement and movie series. We’ll screen popular dance films, and before the screenings, our dancers will lead the seniors in light movement exercises based on ballet. That way, everyone can be a dancer!
Note: Cast of The Nutcracker includes (left) Anna Maria Borvice as Clara, Edward Stegge as the Nutcracker Prince, Chelsea Chan as the Sugar Plum Fairy, and Rosselyn Ramirez as the Rose Queen.