We all have jitters when we get our first big person job right out of college. I graduated from College at Brockport in 2008 which seems like ages ago now. We all have those negative thoughts that nobody is going to hire us, and just hoping that someone will take a chance on a youngin and give you a job. A company based in Rochester, New York took a chance on a young twenty-one year old girl with big dreams of starting her own dance company; me. Granted those dreams have grown and changed, but I’ll never forget the people that took a chance on me.
Natalie Rogers-Cropper, Director of the Garth Fagan Dance School hired me as the her assistant. It was a part-time job, but it was a starting point on getting my foot in the door to understanding the running of a dance company. As her assistant, I organized and collected payments from students, managed scholarships, helped with grant writing, and had my hand in the three week summer program, where I worked with Natalie to layout the schedule for a three week intensive. It was the best first big girl job I could have had because I had mentor who not only was a talented dancer, but was in the business world of dance too.
I moved up the ladder pretty quickly in the Company. After spending eleven months as a part-time assistant I became the full-time Advancement Assistant while still working with Natalie in the School. As an advancement assistant I got to work with marketing and development, assisting with press releases, writing grants and final reports, as well as helping with program layouts for events. From there, I become Assistant Company Manager where I got to work directly with the Artistic Director and Executive Director on touring contracts, tour programming layouts, assist with marketing plans and marketing designs, as well as organize and manage our self-program performances and events.
Working for Garth Fagan Dance and getting involved with so many parts of the Company helped me to develop my own direction of where I wanted to go in life. Even though I no longer work there, I am a big supporter of the Company and follow them online to see what they continue to accomplish. The Company is going on its forty-fifth anniversary year. What a landmark for a choreographer who has collaborated with so many musical and visual artists, and brought to life some serious pieces of work such as Griot, New York, Mudan 175/39, and Two Pieces, One Green (a personal favorite).
Garth Fagan Dance isn’t only a dance company, but an eternal apart of the Rochester community. They work with underprivileged youth through community outreach, as well as provides scholarships for students to study with professional dancers of the company throughout the year. One of the things I loved about the Company is how intertwined it is with the Garth Fagan Dance School, from the instructors to the students and families involved at school who volunteer at shows. It is like a family pushing towards a success of a common goal. It all goes back to the motto of Mr. Fagan – “Discipline is Freedom.” With hard-work, drive, and a family behind you, the possiblities are endless.
If you live in the Rochester area you should check out the gala event that will be happening at the end of April. You can purchase tickets here.