The Center for Ballet and the Arts Recieves $2 Million Gift

Common question:

“If you had a million dollars, what would you do with it?”

Uncommon Answer:

“I would double it! And then donate it to an international research institute for scholars and artists of ballet and its related arts and sciences.”

The Center for Ballet and the Arts photo via Erin Baiano

I guess I’m glad someone thought of it. Guess who it was:

  1.  Anonymous
  2.  Jess’ Couch cushions
  3.  Apple CEO Tim Cook
  4. The Andrew Mellon Foundation

“Finally! I can make that amazing ballet I’ve been dreaming of for years!” -photo via Shutterstock

If you guessed #4, congratulations, you’ve selected the only plausible option on this list. Cook is listed as one of the 10 greediest people on the planet via AlterNet, and there are no spare coins in my couch cushions. Those are obviously just the bigger food crumbs and cat hair.

Here is what the Press Release lists as what the gift will do for CBA:

“CBA has found substantial early success thanks to the generous support of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation,” said Jennifer Homans, CBA Founder and Director. “We are tremendously grateful for their continued partnership in bringing vitality to the history, practice, and performance of dance.”

CBA Director, Jennifer Homans. Photo by Erin Baiano

CBA ’18 Fellows. Photo by Erina Baiano

The funds will enable The Center to expand its programming, foster global collaborations, and strengthen ties with the New York University community, all while continuing to fundraise for CBA’s long-term future.

The grant will also allow CBA to hone its existing programming and initiatives. Since the organization’s founding in 2014, CBA’s Fellowship Program has supported over 130 artists and scholars from 12 countries and nearly 50 disciplines, from film and design to philosophy and art history. Fellows have included Joseph V. Melillo, Executive Producer Emeritus, BAM; Frederick Wiseman, Filmmaker; Lauren Lovette, Principal Dancer, New York City Ballet; Alma Guillermoprieto, Writer and Journalist; and Christopher Wood, Professor of German, New York University. With the Foundation’s support, CBA Fellows will continue to benefit from time, space, and financial resources that allow them to pursue rigorous work while in residence.

The funds will also support CBA’s public programming, which aims to illuminate and expand our understanding of dance through lectures, workshops, and conversations between artists and scholars. The Center has held more than 100 events and seminars to date, often in partnership with major cultural institutions across New York City such as BAM, Lincoln Center, the Museum of Modern Art, and a range of NYU Centers and Institutes including NYU Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, NYU’s Remarque Institute, and NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts. Events have included The Brain is the Dancer, a symposium that brought together leading neuroscientists and dancers; Inside Nijinsky’s Diaries featuring a reading by actor Paul Giamatti; and CBA’s annual Lincoln Kirstein Lectures, which have featured Ian Bostridge, Oskar Eustis, Alastair Macaulay, and Helen Vendler.

CBA ’19 Fellow Marina Harss Photo via Joe Carrotta

CBA photo by Erin Baiano

As someone who has been in attendance at some of these events, and reviewed work created and performed in this space, I am personally thrilled that this organization has received support for their initiatives which bridge history with novel creation, and make some of the highest art and knowledge accessible.

When I went to see Laurent Lovette and Joseph Gordon from New York City Ballet perform Robbins’ ‘Afternoon of a Faun‘ with guest lectures and speakers including Times Dance Critic Alastair Macauley, I sat right on the marley floor where the pas de deux was happening. I made eye contact with Macauley. For a ballet writer nerd like me, this is truly ‘sitting at the feet of giants’ of the industry.

Lecture demonstration on ‘Afternoon of a Faun’ which I was able to see. That’s Alastair on the left.

One of my favorite teachers from NYU, Betsy Coker, who taught my Dance Science course, is also a resident fellow this year. I can’t wait to see what she is creating with the opportunity.

My only nit-pick on this wonderful news is that I hope that some of that $2 million goes to a photographer who doesn’t catch LAUREN LOVETTE in the one and only one time I’ve seen her leg turned in. What is this picture!? I was at this show, it was stunning. THIS is the best photo from that spectacular pas?

I mean, the movement of her hair is beautiful but…

Let’s acknowledge that live dance photography is incredibly hard, but CBA needs bitter grumpy me to select their press photos. I would do it for free! Or maybe just a million, since they have another to spare.

Huge thanks to the Andrew Mellon Foundation and congratulations to all at CBA.

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