Hey Sascha, thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule!
Have a read and let me know what you honestly think. I don't want to waist time on pursuing something thats uninteresting, unoriginal or unrealistic so feel free to shred it. You know Im no writer so Im interested to hear how it could be expressed better but I really want to know what you think of the idea as a whole. The basic function of this will eventually be my main page on a travel/teaching project that I want to crowdfund. Ill leave some additional info after as well as some specific questions. Thanks again!
I believe that to know who we are and where we have come from, is to know the world but to know the world you must see all sides of it: then you will know where we are going. In some way we all study our planet every time we travel, even if we aren’t traveling very far. Some people hardly realise it and others like myself seek it out as I move from here to there. Many things have fascinated me on my travels and most of that has revolved around current events and our cultural history, the world of dance especially. Dance plays an important role in how cultures express themselves. It is self-expression and an emotional outlet for countless numbers of people. In some cases, it provides a career pulling people from poverty and introducing new avenues to them that wouldn’t have existed otherwise. People dance for many reasons and styles and genres are numerous. Once remote cultures are becoming closer as globalisation brings new forms of dance to areas unimaginable maybe a decade ago. Ballet has been a global form of dance for many decades with stars increasingly coming from places where it did not originate. The global economic shift has seen societies start to invest in culture and those investments are paying off. They want to prove that they are as good as anybody at anything and they are doing a good job. Ballet has seen a resurgence in recent years. Media have been quick to pick up on some of the changes that are happening, most notably in diversity with the promotions of Stella Abrera & Misty Copeland to principal dancer at ABT. now dancers like Michaela DePrince are becoming stars and signalling a new generation on the rise. This has lifted popularity in places that once knew nothing of people dancing around a stage in tights. Ballet its self is changing and adapting to a wider and more diverse audiences. We are seeing it move from what used to be an elite, mostly white European art form, to being more racially diverse and a continued effort to reach out to lower income people. There is a long way to go but the international demand for ballet is there and growing.
As a former principal dancer with Het Nationale Ballet in Amsterdam, I began my ballet training at the age of 10 at home in Salt Lake City. Studying with many great teachers there and in Washington DC, I began my career with American Ballet Theatre in New York City. I rose to the rank of principal dancer at the Pacific Northwest Ballet in Seattle, before moving to Europe. It was an honour to dance many of the great ballets by the great new and old master choreographers in some of the biggest theatres around the world. This was my dream since I was a child, to dance and travel the world. Now the time has come to move on, to make room for the next generation. I realise my passion has shifted to passing on my experience and continuing my love of travel, which has become a way of life for me. The traveller in me wants to take my experience and connections to places that are far away from the traditional centres of ballet and western culture. The photographer in me wants to go even further than that to explore the most remote places on Earth. What can a former dancer do, who has a serious case of wanderlust but who feels a great amount of joy and satisfaction passing on valuable knowledge to people who might really enjoy and benefit from it? I want to travel to places around the world, where people are eager to learn and give water to the roots. I want to give people what knowledge I have about ballet in return for letting me experience their way of life. Ballet has given me so much that I feel it is time to give back what I can. As part of a cultural exchange I want to learn about the communities and countries I will be visiting. I want to see their national symbols and hear local stories. I want to share images and experiences of these places with the communities I call home in Europe and North America. I’ve always had a great desire to show people who can’t travel as I have, what amazing things are out there. On these adventures I will be able to connect in a much more intimate level than I have done in my previous photography adventures. I can reach deeper into the communities and ask them about their perspectives on life, their ambitions and I want to share those thoughts with everybody.
My mission is to travel to areas of the world where there is a strong desire to strengthen ballet culture and to give what I can to help them grow. I will teach masterclasses and discuss all aspects of ballet with these communities and find ways of connecting them to other people and organisations around the world to broaden their ideas and plans. As the project matures I would hope to connect directors to choreographers and spot talented people in any aspect of theatre. This can help bring a flow of information going to new places and the creative ideas that could come of it will undoubtedly spark small, maybe even big, creative revolutions. The relationships and interactions could surely spur opportunity and creativity in both directions as artists in the west will benefit from unconventional ideas originating in other regions. I believe in the power of opportunity and that we must open doors to find hidden talent. Opportunity is what ballet meant for me as I was a young introverted kid with little to no ambition to try anything. Ballet gave me the tools and the stage to become who I am and opened doors that allowed me to grow into a productive member of society and now I want to help others. I want to teach kids a love and appreciation of ballet. Teaching them the joys of ballet and giving them a positive experience will be my main goal. Ballet is an extremely hard discipline and to make it into the top companies around the world you have to be strong, mentally and physically and even then, it’s difficult to make it. For that reason, the training is hard. Teachers can leave lasting marks on children and as most of them will never become dancers, it’s important to me to teach them how to express themselves and build their confidence. This doesn’t mean lie to them but to point out what they are doing well, not just what they are doing wrong. I want to build future generations of ballet fans and sponsors as much as I want to build future dancers and for that it has to be a positive experience. Ive reached out to numerous schools and companies around the world and the interest in having me visit is there but, as neither of us has the means of making it happen, it remains a dream. With your help this vision can become a reality and I hope I will be able to reach far and wide. In this day and age, it is more important than ever for communities to work together and to draw on our full compliment of talents to tackle the problems of the future. I don’t expect ballet to solve global issues, but by bring people into the world arena and giving them a voice, we can help them become the people they want to be. People who have found their talent or who have come out of the shadows, whether they become dancers or not, can develop a sense of pride and that can help them elevate their communities. They become leaders and thinkers and I want to encourage this in every way possible. Help me explore the world to find people who have a love of creativity and community, so I can give it what I can to help it grow and maybe we can make the world a better place one artist at a time.
First of all, heres a little background as to how it all got started. Ive been looking for teaching gigs in interesting locations for a while now. I have traveled several times to fun places, New Zealand/Italy/Mexico, and then stayed after for a while to explore and do my photography. I called Ritika Chandra, who graduated from the Kirov Academy, and has a small company called Elan Ballet in Deli, India and asked if she would be interested in having me come. She said that would be wonderful except she has no money. Ive been needing to find a direction in life as Ive been feeling very lost and have no identity anymore and traveling seem to be the only thing that gives me back my sense of purpose. Understandably I don’t want money to get in the way of my adventures. I thought about asking magazines to fund it for a great article but of course publishing is in the shit and they won’t fund anything anymore. I had the idea that if I could get enough attention than I could crowdfund it and then media outlets might love it. Im talking to Ritika now to schedule at time for me to come as well as what I will be doing there and of course I want to stick around and explore India for a bit. Now I have a pretty good idea going but it still needs a lot of work before I can launch it and in the mean time my ass is broke as a fucking joke!
I've made three links at the bottom of the page. The first link will be a link to whatever crowdfunding platform is the best for this plan. The second will describe the plan with a little more detail and specific info as well as some things its not or won’t be in the beginning. I might also link a page with ideas as to what it could become over time. The third page will have to do with my photography projects that only involve photography and personal travels/vacations. Here are some points I really need some help with.
- I don’t think I want to bring ballet where it isn’t already on the rise. At least not in the beginning. I want to focus my attention and funds on giving water to roots, not planting seeds. I am not opposed to planting seeds but I feel I can have a bigger impact when I have a group that is ready to go to another level. Planting seeds would be a wonderful project to undertake at some point but also requires a great deal more planning and preparation.
- Part of what I will be doing is photography. The project will centre around me teaching but I will be involving my photography. A big part of how I communicate to the world is through my camera. As I want to learn and experience the cultures I will be engaging with, I want to show to my audiences back home the places I have been and the things I have seen. I want to raise money for travel and living costs for teaching/photography projects. I do however, have some projects that will only involve photography but Ill probably fundraise for those separately. Like wise Ill take a vacation now and then and I want to be clear as to how I would be spending the money.
- I want to help facilitate opportunities. I am not a bringer of opportunity but I hope and believe I can help facilitate opportunities by advising and connecting people when possible. I don’t know how realistic it is to expect relationships and connections to form in the beginning. Those things take time and sustained interaction so being “a connecter” isn’t something I expect to happen in my first visit. Talent spotting is something Id love to do in the future as well but for now it may be best to keep it simple.
- The project is about cultural exchange. I want to learn about them and examine their ideas and thoughts in exchange for giving them mine. I can convey my findings through articles written by me or somebody who knows how to write and through my photography. Depending on budget, I would like to invite a photographer as well to capture me as Im teaching and other things I would miss. Ill be updating everybody about what Im doing and how Im doing it and what is the result of what Im doing. Im open to lots of ideas for how this can be done but inviting writers would be a great help as it takes me years to write a paragraph. Videos and others are also fun ideas.
- Which crowdfunding site is a big question as Im not sure how best to collect any funds. Its a project to project thing and when Im on one project I hope to be communicating and planning others. Also each project will take a different duration of time. I don’t foresee it being a monthly thing. Ideally Id love to teach for a week or two and then explore the country for a week or two after. Each trip might take a month to a couple of weeks to plan and there will be post production and followups after. GoFundMe is a great platform to raise money for a single project but I don’t know how it works to crowdfund an ongoing thing. Patreon is much more regular as it is a monthly donation site so it attracts creatives who tend to put out monthly or periodic articles or podcasts. Big question here! Im toying with the idea of using Patreon for the teaching and fund each photography project individually through GoFundMe.
- How to select locations to teach and how transparent do I need to be about my itinerary? Some schools/companies have enough money to pay for my travels/housing/fee. Some have only enough to pay my fee and others have nothing. I want to teach in many places whether they have money or not and Id also like to make a living outside of what I can crowdfund. How can I separate these in the eyes of my donors and how will I select places for my projects? I don't want to open up peoples finical books but I would feel an obligation to the donors to spend the money on places that really can't afford it.
- future ideas of what it could be are: Building a global giving network for larger companies and schools to share ideas and material goods with emerging ones - Discussing global issues and how they are highlighted by something like ballet entering into or changing their traditional way of life. Each issue can be specific to a particular location and how they are being dealt with. - Organising Skype classes and coaching sessions with important people from different areas of the planet.
- One idea that made me think of you in particular Sascha was possibly touring to several places in the philippines with you and Stella. She could do the teaching, Ill photograph it and you can write about it. Its a fun idea, let me know what you guys think of it.
- Donor structure: In order to build a successful donation base you must give gifts and give the feeling of inclusion. One idea I have for big donors is to invite them on a personalised tour that I could guide them and some friends on. If it pays for a trip and only takes a few days then why not? How would I classify my donors and what can I do to make them feel included but not take too much of my time away from my work?
- Im still not sure what to think about the mission statement. On one hand you really have to hype things up to get attention and funding but I dont want to come off as some enlightened ballet guru, bring light to the masses. I am not a ballet mosiah. How can I get people's interest but keep it real?
Thank you so much! Looking forward to hearing from you!