For many businesses, the transition to social media was #flawless. An easy transition from old to new, easy marketing, easy to send your product all over the world. But what about when you’re a ballet, a company which relies on the stage? Relying on experience in the moment, on practice, and on consistency? Social media, it’s all about serendipity and that’s not ballet as we’ve known it. That is, not until now. Because luckily, there’s Cheri Mitchell.
Cheri Mitchell is a gem, (I have to use the hashtag again here) and also #flawless. As executive director of BalletMet for fourteen years, she and her marketing team (director, Lynette Shy) have successfully and dextrously bridged the gap.
“If you are going to experience dance you need to see it live or do it,” says Mitchell. “HD video has become a huge vehicle for us with the millennial generation.”
Ballet is classic and exotic, but it’s also not that pair of Euro-jeans you can order online in your pajamas. Ballet finds its momentum in a community willing to appreciate its timeliness, to come out and see the shows or join a class.
“We’ve made a commitment,” says Mitchell. “We call it, ‘Invite, Welcome, Retain.’ There’s the in-person invitation or email invitations, and then it’s really all about being able to have the full, in-person experience.”
This why BalletMet makes such a strong effort to keep its shows free-of-charge, especially for children who have never experienced ballet. They host open studios, including “Dancing With the Nutcracker,” where children can interact with characters from our city’s beloved seasonal tradition. The company also hosts a large-scale performance every year in Bicentennial Park, free for all ages. “The audience of BalletMet has always been very diverse,” says Mitchell. “When you come to BalletMet you see a large range of audiences.”
This diversity holds true for the company as well. Their oldest student is 84 years old.
A massive range of dancers (82 in total), young and old, will be onstage for the Ballet’s rapidly upcoming presentation of Cinderella, which has been completely re-choreographed by Artistic Director Edwaard Liang.
When asked for teasers, Mitchell gave me this exciting twist on the tale, “Cinderella doesn’t start out as Cinderella! You see her parents when they’re still alive.” She added, “Oh! And there will be lots of magic! The scenery! The costumes!”
In fact, tickets for BalletMet’s magical rendition Cinderella have moved so quickly that they may need to add an extra performance. Adults will find comedy in the choreography; kids will love the captivating set and the glamorous costumes.
Hopefully, for those little ones whose first BalletMet experience is Cinderella, it won’t be their last. After all, says Mitchell, “Ballet has always been an art form of youth.”
Cinderella runs March 20 to 29 at the Capitol Theatre. Tickets can be purchased through Ticketmaster.