Adapting Through Dance: an interview with Madeleine Bonn

Soon after professional ballet dancer, Madeleine Bonn, began her course of studies with Arts Extension Service, she landed her dream job as Artistic Director of Amherst Ballet.  Little did she know she would be starting her career in arts management during a global pandemic. But, Madeleine explains, “My studies in arts management throughout this crisis have helped keep me grounded and inspire a program I created called 'The Social Dis-Dance Project'."  In fact, Madeleine has thrived during this time, finding new ways to adapt and inspire creativity with Amherst Ballet and through her own dance practice. She even received an award from the Amherst Cultural District for a comedic work that she created in which she danced with a roll of toilet paper speaking to living in loneliness during the quarantine.

This coming spring Madeleine is excited to continue her classes with a new course offered by AES called Creative Community Leadership to learn how to create more community-engaged work. We reached out to Madeleine to find out more about how she has adapted as a new artistic director in 2020 and her continued interest in the field of arts management.



What interested you in studying arts management with AES?
As a professional ballerina, and recently hired artistic director of Amherst Ballet (September 2019), I knew I needed to strengthen my knowledge of the arts world "behind the scenes" in order to further my career. I would highly recommend AES classes to anyone interested in working in the arts or cultural sectors.

As an artistic director for a performing arts organization how have you adapted in the time of COVID?
Currently, Amherst Ballet is holding hybrid classes, offered both in-person (using masks and social distancing, with a 7 student per class limit) and via Zoom. Students have been enthusiastic to return to the studio and I feel there is a sense of renewed appreciation for being able to dance in a beautiful space, as well as gratitude for the connection we form with others in doing so. Though enrollment has been lower due to people's wariness to gather in enclosed spaces, we are determined to press forward and are even making plans to create a full-length virtual dance film in place of our usual spring performance. In June, with the help of our board president, I created a short piece for the school to perform virtually, "The Butterfly Effect".



Why are you adding Creative Community Leadership Leadership to your course list this spring?
My interest in Creative Community Leadership stems from my own desire to grow into the leadership role I have taken on as artistic director. It has been a position that has both challenged and humbled me, and I would like to learn more not only about how I can be a more visionary director for Amherst Ballet, but how my organization can position itself as a valuable social and creative resource for the community. In this time of the Coronavirus, many workers and businesses have been deemed "essential." I believe the arts are also an essential public commodity, and I would like to learn how to make dance as enjoyable, useful, and accessible to the community as it possibly can be.

"In this time of the Coronavirus, many workers and businesses have been deemed "essential." I believe the arts are also an essential public commodity, and I would like to learn how to make dance as enjoyable, useful, and accessible to the community as it possibly can be."

Who inspires your personal creativity and passion?
My mother is my greatest inspiration. She is a painter of whimsy and humor, and she brightens the world with the beauty of her images. I hope the work I do can bring light into people's lives the way that hers has.

How does arts management impact your goals?
I have been incredibly fortunate to have landed my dream job as an artistic director of a historic arts organization, Amherst Ballet. My professional goals are to perpetuate Amherst Ballet's mission as a driving force for positive community impact and to help position the arts as a powerful social and creative sanctuary. My education in arts management has been essential in giving me the tools to accomplish this!



Any last thoughts about your experience with AES classes?
What has resonated with me most is my experience studying arts programming. I thought that this work would be dull, but I was so wrong! It inspires and utilizes my creativity in ways I never imagined. I love it!