Arts Administrator Sonja Kostich’s Savvy Method to Danger-Taking Pays Off

Arts Administrator Sonja Kostich’s Savvy Method to Danger-Taking Pays Off

To the layperson, the thought of working in arts administration­ could sound dry, however, as Sonja Kostich­ makes clear, it’s something however. The potential for giant, transformative concepts is in every single place. Kostich, who in August 2022 was named the Baryshnikov Arts Middle’s new govt director, has at all times considered herself as a artistic individual. At first that creativity was expressed by performing, as a dancer at American Ballet Theatre and later at Mikhail Baryshnikov’s White Oak Dance Challenge. Impressed by White Oak, Kostich co-founded her personal firm, OtherShore, the place she commissioned and danced in works by choreographers like Annie-B Parson and Jodi Melnick.

Arts Administrator Sonja Kostich’s Savvy Method to Danger-Taking Pays Off
Sonja Kostich. Picture by Quinn Wharton, Courtesy Kostich.

Her want to change into a extra strategic chief satisfied her that it was time to go to varsity to review enterprise, after which to earn a level in arts administration. Add to that two years on the funding agency Goldman Sachs, and it’s straightforward to see why Kostich­ has revealed herself to be such a drive throughout the arts world, most lately because the chief govt and inventive officer at Kaatsbaan Cultural Park. She helped to show this rural idyll in upstate New York right into a vibrant new cauldron for dance, music, visible artwork, and cultural and culinary dialog. “I wish to assume massive,” Kostich says. “I’m prepared to take that threat to go for the dream, as a result of I believe it’s attainable.”

Once I arrived at Kaatsbaan I began wanting on the normal programming technique. They’d been doing solely indoor programming for 20 years, with a theater that holds solely 160 seats. And right here that they had 153 acres of land at their disposal. Throughout my dancing profession I spent nearly a 12 months at Glyndebourne [an opera house on a large estate in the English countryside]. So after I got here to Kaatsbaan, I instantly thought: We ought to be doing stuff outside on this stunning property. Then the pandemic hit, and we had to do transfer outside. The pandemic allowed us to make adjustments fairly quickly.

That first 12 months, the pageant consisted nearly completely of solo dance. However we rapidly expanded. The unique mission of Kaatsbaan was to be a cultural park. I noticed it very a lot as a spot that embodied tradition, all of it. I’ve at all times thought it’s very attention-grabbing­ to have artists from throughout disciplines collaborating. And I believe artists now are actually ­ in being a part of one thing bigger than their immedi­ate world. Patti Smith was the primary musical artist we introduced. And you recognize, by bringing Patti Smith, our membership jumped 1,800 %.

I believe one of many the reason why Misha was in bringing me to BAC is that he got here to Kaatsbaan­ and noticed the several types of performances we had been doing.­ I imagine BAC has the potential­ to develop its programming in an analogous approach. BAC’s mission is to be an arts heart for all the humanities, not simply dance but additionally theater and music.­ It’s thrilling for the artists and it additionally actually lends itself to creating­ the viewers. And I believe it’s essential to do programming that speaks to the viewers.

I like being a frontrunner. I like working issues. You recognize, I skilled as a ballet dancer, after which I used to be in ballet firms for 10 years of my skilled profession. In a ballet firm you’re not making any choices. You simply do what you’re instructed. And that was at all times exhausting for me. Working OtherShore gave me a way that I preferred with the ability to have concepts and put these concepts into movement. It felt nice to be making the selections and connecting with dancers, artists and musicians.

It took me 10 years after I finished being a full-time skilled dancer to determine what to do with my life. I believe one of many the reason why it was so exhausting for me was that I actually didn’t know what I wished to do. And that was as a result of I didn’t even know what existed exterior of dance. I had been in dance my entire life. I didn’t even know what I used to be in search of. The toughest factor in life is figuring out what you need.

At 38, I went again to varsity to review accounting and enterprise communication, with a bunch of 18- to 20-year-olds. I completely liked it. I wished to know every little thing. And I utterly immersed myself in it. I ended up at Goldman Sachs, which was one other world utterly. Each­­one there was prime of their class from the most effective faculties, and hard-working and disciplined and targeted and resilient and desirous to be the most effective and a perfectionist. I keep in mind considering, Each dancer I do know may very well be working at Goldman Sachs.

The important thing at Goldman, as in dance, was that a lot was about teamwork. I keep in mind after I was dancing, I used to be thrown on in Swan Lake to interchange one of many swans who was injured, with out even a rehearsal. The injured dancer stood within the wings, displaying me the steps, and the dancer behind me within the line whispered directions. I had probably the most unbelievable time. As a result of it was a lot about teamwork.

I believe it’s actually thrilling to deliver extraordinary folks collectively. Through the years of wandering round attempting to determine what I wished to do, I’ve constructed a community with out even realizing it. I simply turned 50 and I really feel like that is the most effective time of my life.

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