Nurture the Dancers

Connecting with donors and giving value for support

I have spent a lifetime creating dance works, performing, educating, raising money, doing tedious office work – basically working to be an artist. Over the years I have seen some interesting ways to connect audience to the performers, embed them into the work, give the audience some tangible connection to the art they are seeing.

I have seen choreographers develop incredible powers empathy to listen to and solicit  with donors, interactive performances, and special performance/talks to give the donors a special treat.

Donor are key to the lifeblood of a dance company, especially as our work does not generate  so called ‘passive income’ from book sales, prints, or music rights (not that most artists can live on these, but it can sometimes help).

So when I find a new and quite lovely way of inviting donors in, I want to share it.

Batsheva is an amazing company in Israel now as well known for “gaga” (a movement and body awareness method) as their work (both of which are wonderful). Their website has the ubiquitous “Support Us” tab, but under that is one thought that intrigues:

Nurture the Dancers.

Yes. Yes. Yes. As a donor, what if you could connect your donation to a specific, like a month of physical therapy for a dancer? First off, do most people know how much work it takes to be a dancer? This brings awareness as well as empathy.

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This idea of tagging a donation as supporting a specific thing is not new, but neither is it used enough. Bring your donors to a human place. Make them part of the nuts and bolts. If someone donates a large sum of money, let them know what that pays for so when they see your next masterpiece, they know – Ah, I paid for this lighting, these costumes, that chair, three dancers to get their physical therapy- now the piece is personal to them.

Value comes in different forms in art: the work creates a context for thought, a physical connection, visual stimulation, emotional connections, and a human touch. Many people who do not create artworks want to be a part of that process, that incredible journey that you, as an artist, find stimulating, frustrating, work and scary. To other people it is amazing.

Bring your donors to a more human, personal space by offering opportunities for them to see the messier, but interesting part of creating dance.


Cynthia Adams Excerpts

Who is Cynthia Adams the choreographer?

Cynthia has been choreographing and performing in modern and contemporary dance for over 30 years. Her time in Berlin, New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco has influenced her thinking and work in style and content.  Creating a multi layered, idea based style, Cynthia heavily combines vocal and text elements to her work as well as music elements and video.

Cynthia Adams excerpts video from ken james on Vimeo.

Currently faculty at Iowa State University, and lives in Des Moines, Iowa with her husband (and co-artistic director), son, and old hound dog.

And now a biography of Cynthia Adams

Cynthia Adams, MA, RYT500, ACSM

Cynthia Adams joined the ISU dance faculty in the Fall of 2010. Ms. Adams holds a M.A. in Choreography/Performance from the University of California, Los Angeles and a B.A. in Pre-Dance Therapy from New York University in New York City. Ms. Adams has taught as a guest artist at Mills College, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Cabrillo College, the University of California at Berkeley, and San Jose State University, as well as in numerous studios teaching ongoing classes and workshops in dance and somatic practices.

At ISU, Cynthia teaches all levels of modern, ballet, yoga, dance composition and dance history. As the advisor for the student organization, Orchesis 1, she teaches company class, books guest artists, choreographs, and serves as the artistic director for Barjche, held in Fisher Auditorium in February.

Ms. Adams began performing her solo and group work in N.Y.C. in 1981. Her choreographic, film and video/dance works have since been seen across the country, Canada and Germany. In 1992 she formed Fellow Travelers Performance Group (, a dance theater company in the San Francisco Bay Area with Ken James. Over the years FTPG has received numerous grants and awards in addition to performing in many curated festivals in California, Vancover, BC, Wisconsin and Iowa.