Critical Dance

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PNB Executive Director D. David Brown on Touring

By Azlan Ezaddin
June 2002

When Executive Director D. David Brown sat down to chat with me, it was apparent he had a very clear idea about touring. So I asked him to describe and explain his philosophy on the subject. Below are his words:

"I believe there are several rationales for justifying the considerable expense, time investment and challenge of unforeseen obstacles that touring presents.

"Touring is a moral booster for the artists of the company as well as the close supporters and donors who may actually join the company on tour. It builds a sense of teamwork and cohesiveness that is harder to achieve while just being "at home". It also builds a strength in the company itself to overcome unforeseen challenges which always occur on the road. The sense that we are "on our own" breeds reliance on one another which builds camaraderie and trust. All this ultimately shows up as higher quality performances onstage.

"Touring of course adds performance opportunities for artists and those performances are usually in interesting places. London certainly qualifies here. Dancers require five or six opportunities to dance a role before it really becomes theirs, before it is in their muscles. Additional touring performances help to ensure this.

"Visibility for a unique repertoire of works can be an attractive reason for touring as well as building international visibility for our wonderful artists themselves. Our offerings for the London engagement show not only those works in which we dance best, but our own production of Silver Lining, conceived, choreographed and produced by our own highly talented production staff with Artistic Director Kent Stowell's direction.

"Occasionally, additional support for the company appears as a result of touring. The James D. and Sherry Raisbeck International Touring Fund at PNB was the result of a donor's interest in furthering the international reputation of one of the Pacific Northwest's premier performing arts organizations.

"I feel however that the most compelling reason to tour is to find third party endorsement of the high quality of PNB. Few of our audience members and donors actually have the opportunity to make direct comparisons by seeing other ballet companies and so they rely on other opinions to inform their own. An enlightened opinion expressed by press reviews from international media carries significant weight when read by our supporters. It validates their choice. It informs their personal aesthetic. Ultimately, it elevates their commitment and dedication to their own company, Pacific Northwest Ballet.

"The most important thing about touring is to be clear about why you are doing it. All of the reasons cited above can be the basis for that clarity. We would say that we tour for third party endorsement which builds support at home, international visibility for our artists and our unique repertoire, and that we concentrate our touring efforts in international capitals to maximize the effect of the endorsement and visibility."

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