Tuesday, April 8, 2008

10th Avenue Speakeasy

For months, the 10th Avenue Speakeasy has been in the planning stages. Finally it's almost time to see it unveiled, sit back and enjoy the show-- and then get up and join the action. Every year OBT has a major fund-raising gala event, and this season it was decided to center it around the style and thrill of Slaughter on 10th Avenue. The guests will get to see the ballet performed for the first time, and they're all being encouraged to take the theme of the day and run with it-- pretend you're heading to a speakeasy filled with gangsters and flappers, dress accordingly, and be prepared to swing dance the night away!


Seriously, though, the gala is a huge deal for the company, not just for the necessary fundraising but also in terms of less tangible, longer-term benefits. I asked Leslie Grasa and Dan Ryan in the development department about their aims for this year's event.

Leslie: "Our aim with the Gala is to throw a fun, elegant party while keeping costs down whenever possible (for example, all of the alcohol for the event has been generously donated). While there are certrainly fundraising goals to be met the night of the Gala, the long term effects of such events are even more exciting and harder to calculate. For example, John and Jane Doe may attend the Gala, and it is their first contact with OBT. They are impressed by what they see and soon become season ticket holders, then Pointe Society Members, then -- maybe even years later-- they give a large gift to support OBT. They'll always have fond memories of the Gala they first attended, so even though their giving continues long afterwards, the party was ultimately responsible for their gifts, and their close relationship with OBT".

The event this year is smaller than it has been in years past because it's being held at the Newmark Theater, which gives us the opportunity to truly let the dancers be part of the entertainment (in other venues, it's impossible to do much in the way of performing). That's pretty nifty for the guests, and of course always nice for the dancers to get another opportunity to perform (and it's also a nice little trial run of Slaughter before we open next week). It's also crucial to reinforce the reason why all these people have come to the party, and what they're there to support-- it's about OBT! So Dan and Leslie explained to me that because there's only room for 300 guests for the event, they've limited who they targeted with invitations, focusing on people who are already supporter and friends of OBT. The idea is that those people will bring along one or two people who are those "John and Jane Doe/Friends of OBT that don't know it yet" folks that Leslie was talking about.

These development events are like performances for the devo team. It's the time when all their work is put out there for everyone to see and enjoy, much like what happens when the curtain goes up and we dancers finally show an audience a ballet. I've often wondered if they feel that way about it-- if they feel like they're on display, or get nervous or have stage fright. This is their baby that they've been nurturing for months and months, strategizing and refining and hoping for the best. I'm sure it'll be great, and I'm positive that we'll see some awesome flapper outfits.

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