Inspired: Bill T. Jones

The dance portion of the performing arts profession has been heavy laden in royal decorum. These imperial traditions for conduct are fabulous for cultivating professionalism and an esthetic of formal manners as we watch society indulging in instantaneous casualness. However, the dance industry also cultivated a culture of coercion, unfair wages, and uncaring organizations. A leader who introduced and remains a provider of inspiration, fair compensation, and an attentive organization is Bill T. Jones. This American choreographer is the co-founder of a progressive performance company who challenged ethical emerging issues through dance productions and the Artistic Director of New York Live Arts. Jones’ artistic direction has influenced the dance industry to explore social, ethical, and spiritual issues and began an industry-wide change in the treatment of performers.

According to Paris (2005) “Jones invokes a Janus-like figure, challenging himself to please stand up, fighting over which “Bill T.” will prevail, and playing out this conflict in his choreography as well as in his public statements” (p. 64). By using transparency Jones’ dance performance pieces expose the internal conflict of grappling with social, ethical, and spiritual formation to public scrutiny. The process of preparing performers to debut a piece of performance art includes hours of deep thinking, acting, and dancing. “Jones’s process, a spiritual endeavor as well as a rigorous investigation of material culture, situates the physical body at the locus of discursive sociopolitical and artistic intrigue” (Jones & Dent, 2005, p. 23). The expectations Jones has of his dancers are extraordinarily high.   He asks for lengthy and physically taxing rehearsals that cross into spiritual and philosophical explorations. Performers and artists gravitate towards Jones because he does this with respectful and ethical leadership.

Jones contribution to the dance performance arts profession over the last 45 years has introduced a deep commitment to the performer that was not present in the hierarchy of ballet performance. The industry’s paradigm shift to appreciate both classical and postmodern performance art has taken nearly 90 years.  Because his dance company and the New York Arts Live environment is not cynical or oppressive, dancers flock to his auditions and program opportunities. Jones regularly has 450 women and 125 men to audition when looking for just a few performers. He addresses dancers’ feelings of inadequacy during rehearsals, offers full-time employment, and makes artwork about relevant issues.  By exemplifying fairness, putting the dancers’ needs in front of his desire to make the art, and living out the virtuous choice in the treatment of others his organizations displays an ethic of care previously undetected in the industry.



Jones, B. T., & Dent, M. (2005). T: Tracing the language of Bill T. Jones. TDR: The Drama Review49(2), 14-23.

Paris, C. (2005). Will the real Bill T. Jones please stand up?. TDR: The Drama Review49(2), 64-74.


Balancing Attributes for Developing Leadership in the Arts

Kimberly Payne

Malone University

Balancing Attributes for Developing Leadership in Arts

The role of the leader in an arts organization is to balance the operations, reputation, and strategic success of the company. This requires specific leadership attributes that bond captivating artistry with professional ethics. Developing the leadership attributes of charisma, empathy, and Many artists and their organizations face peaks and valleys in status. When the terrain is multidimensional and operational activities challenging, these attributes will equip leaders with influence, crisis intervention, and sustention.

Charisma to Gain Influence

The personal allure of artists and their work is important to the success of an arts organization. It ignites a vision that attracts funders, sells tickets, and creates audience loyalty. Leaders must develop the attribute of charisma to gain influence in executing and maintaining the organizational vision. Affecting follower emotional and cognitive responses is a tool of charismatic artists.  Leaders also require the ability to arouse behavioral changes in others through artistic appeal. Maintaining operational details and integrity of vision implementation will be efficacious with this attribute and its properties.

According to Nisbett and Walmsley (2016), “charismatic leaders are seen as extraordinary individuals and are excessively romanticized by arts managers, policymakers, and audiences” (p. 2).  Leaders who have developed the character attribute of charisma will have a balanced perception of those with a natural inclination.  This is important because persons with natural charisma can be viewed as loose cannons within an organization (Borek, Lovett, & Towns, 2005). In the context of organizational vision, leadership can apply generative techniques without placating the ability of the artists’ evangelistic nature.

Funding, ticket sales, and follower loyalty are critical to all arts organizations.  Each artist with individual appeal brings attention and continuity to the business. Leaders advancing their understanding of charisma can influence followers with the organizational vision.  This encourages the audience to allow emotional and cognitive investment in the arts.  Stimulating art spectators to become dreamers for a brighter future is the primary reason artists and arts leaders devote themselves to the arts; therefore, expertise in regulating charisma and advancing vision implementation is vital for success.

Empathy During Crisis

The attribute of empathy proves to be significant for arts leaders. This is because the pulse of an arts organization represents the heartbeat of its artistic team, the management, and the public.  Artists thrive when creating art based in prophetic insight to global and regional emerging issues.  Leaders who develop the ability to empathize with artists and audiences bring balance to the organization by intervening during times of crisis. Because the leader and artists are interdependent, they must rely on each other to understand the stories of pain and traumas expressed through the arts. Developing the relatable attribute of empathy allows leaders to support their team in affecting public opinion.

Lygia Clark created an art installation at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1963.  By offering interactive art and craft opportunity to the public, she sought to heighten the awareness of the interdependency the public has with the earth’s resources. “Clark’s Caminhando/Walking (1963) consists of a Möbius strip, a strip of paper that is twisted and fixed in a loop, that the viewer is invited to cut, starting by making a hole in the middle of the strip and continuing in consecutive circles around the loop until the remaining sliver of paper is so narrow that it is cut through, resulting in the end of the action and the death of the piece” (Gauld, 2014, p. 396). Gauld’s research offers that it is a recent discovery for leaders to understanding the role empathy plays in reframing and approaching critical issues (Gauld, 2014). This artistic expression is meant to create empathy regarding ecological crisis and exploitation of human and natural resources. Similar to the revelations of Winston Churchill calling attention to the oncoming crisis of the Cold War the public could not yet see, artists’ revelations often fall out of vogue (Borek, Lovett, & Towns, 2005). These futuristic stories of oncoming trauma expressed through art can be a valuable insight into crisis intervention when respected and appropriately highlighted.

An arts leader’s sensitivity to the overall view of crisis can use the attribute of empathy to inspire hope and fortitude to all followers: team, management, and audience.   This fine-tunes audiences to remain invested, realize their power, and to take part in forming creative solutions. Because emerging issues have a way of overwhelming the public and causing momentary paralysis, leaders who can empathize with creative people and the public bring opportunities for composed crisis intervention. Interdependent and generative curation helps artists reveal prophetic knowledge.  Empathetic support is deeply desired by artists and will cultivate an environment thriving, thus creating an underpinning of confidence in a strong organization.

Hope Leads to Sustention

Many arts organizations place the burden of fund-raising, personnel management, and daily operations on one or two primary arts leaders.  It is important for the arts leader to stay focused and nurture his personal and spiritual core. The attribute of hope leads to personal and organizational equipoise in the arts because it creates sustention. Hope is developed when leaders refuse to minimize the importance of their inner life. Retaining and leaning upon spiritual fundamentals allow leaders to press beyond resistance.  A prerequisite for arts leadership is developing faith that cultivates long-term hope.

Ezra, a Biblical prophet, recognized God was the provider of all he needed, even when the resource seemed to come from other sources (Borek, Lovett, & Towns, 2005). By believing that there was more than meets the eye, Ezra practiced faith-based principles that filled him with hope and prepared him to face large challenges. He was ready to face the opposition of others as he continued to pursue his calling from God (Ezra 4, New International Version). Recent research from Greffe, Krebs, and Pflieger, (2017) indicates that “the vast majority of public funded museums are suffering severe and continuous declining resources” (p. 319). Now, more than ever, arts leaders need to present the resolution of hope within their organizations. It must become unimaginable for arts leaders to lose hope. The arts are birthed from the hope of building a better future and preserving history.

Because the pressure of working with limited funding and personnel resources is prevalent for arts leaders, remaining focused and healthy in mind, body, and spirit is a high priority. The attribute of hope leads to individual and organizational balance in the arts because it helps the maintenance of life. The inner spiritual essentials of Godly love, peace, and joy allow leaders to persevere when difficulties arise.  Faith fosters long-term hope in the life of all leaders, includes those serving in the arts.


The current business trend is that the duties of the arts leader will continue to expand within the arts organization.  Fulfilling the role of supervising operations, reputation, and the strategic success of the company will require precise leadership attributes that combine artistry with professional ethics. Leaders who focus on developing the attributes of charisma, empathy, and hope will provide balance to the arts organizations they serve. Hard times will come and go, but the perseverance from these attributes will prepare leaders for influencing, intervening during a crisis, and bringing sustainability.


Borek, J., Lovett, D., & Towns, E. L. (2005). The good book on leadership: Case studies from the Bible. Broadman & Holman.


Gauld, Q. (2014). Empathy beyond the human: Interactivity and kinetic art in the context of a global crisis. Technoetic Arts: A Journal Of Speculative Research12(2/3), 389-398.


Greffe, X., Krebs, A., & Pflieger, S. (2017). The future of the museum in the twenty-first century: recent clues from France. Museum Management & Curatorship32(4), 319-334.


Nisbett, M., & Walmsley, B. (2016). The romanticization of charismatic leadership in the arts. Journal Of Arts Management, Law & Society46(1), 2-12.


Ballet Partnering Techniques for Business Partnering Success

pexels-photo-209948.jpegMalone University

April 4, 2018 |FOLLOWERSHIP

Ballet Partnering Techniques for Business Partnering Success

Leadership training has been championed as a key for personal success; learning to be a dynamic follower proves vital to organizational success. Followership is a remarkable concept. Essential followership techniques are emphasized in the methodological process of teaching ballet dancers to partner together.  Dancers are taught to generate frames, use improvisation, and to become experts in core focusing. These follower concepts require intense composure and connections with leaders.  The following lessons from the dance arena will help leaders engage team members in creating trust, demonstrating decision advocating, and developing intuition for strong personal and organizational partnering.

Framing for Trust

When teaching partnering to ballet dancers, the first lesson is to define the role of the leader and follower.  This moment in the classroom establishes who will be observing and who will be interpreting the signals of the movements first.  The initial dance leader generates a frame for creating trust.  The dancers are asked to be congruent when accomplishing the next several assignments and the frame is set to aid the team in creating motion past the simple definition of delegation. Both leader and follower work within the framed role to accomplish all tasks in synchronicity.  The follower learns to trust that the leader will set a reasonable tempo and the leader develops trust that the follower has a clear interpretation of the circumstances.

In Teresa Byinton’s (2010) research on mentoring relationships she clarifies that “creating a relationship of trust, clearly defining roles and responsibilities, establishing short- and long-term goals” is extremely effective for mentoring (p. 3). The individual innovation propensity of team members decreases when followers feel ambiguous about their role and responsibilities according to De Clercq and Belausteguigoitia (2017).  Leaders who to take the step of framing roles and responsibilities will help followers trust their pioneering ideas have a place in the business.

When lesson one is complete there is understanding of leader, follower, and specific responsibilities. A conversation has taken place that helps followers know the leader is interested in their interpretation and capabilities. Dancers are taught to generate frames because they are expected to be balanced, composed and synchronized.  Leaders can implement the usage of framing to clarify vision and timing for organizational success.  This will develop trust by revealing to followers that the leader is in-synch and that signal interpretations are accurate.

Improvisation for Decisions

Team imbalances are a natural part of organizational change. Followership offers the suggestion that leaders value this divergence and leverage with their followers for balance to be restored during decision-making. Dancers learn to use improvisation because it demonstrates decision advocating.  When the ballet leader and follower begin moving with seemingly vague movements, an opportunity for advocacy begins. The follower is taught to build on what they are given, and the leader is taught to respond by validating the movement and enhancing it with another.  Both ballet dancers are coached to remain composed as performers during the improvisation.  This technique and composition from team members in the business world allows organizational solutions to emerge which aids the decision-making process.

In an interview with the groundbreaking choreographer for Batsheva Dance Company in Israel, Ohad Naharin explains that the relationship with his dance technique and improvisation is reciprocal (Galili, 2015). The dancers’ improvisation plays an indispensable part in determining the decision of the production. Additional research on Naharin’s technique for partnering reveals, the dance “practitioner exercises individual agency in the attunement process of interpreting instructions and responding intentionally” (Melpignano, 2017, p. 113).

The proximity of ballet dance partners is customarily more kinesthetic and intimate than business leaders and followers; however, the illustration of ballet partnering from lesson two, learning improvisation for decision advocating–is virtuous for balancing the terrain of organizational change.  Followers who build on what they are given and leaders who respond with enrichments find better solutions.  Improvisation broadens the spectrum for decision-making.

Core Focus for Intuition

Advance usage of focus is key for dancers and business leaders. Several specific tasks involving the mission and duties of an organization will occur at once.  This requires intuitive synchronicity to keep followers focused and moving toward the vision and mission. Dancers learn to use a core focus for developing intuition. The third lesson in ballet partnering includes instructing the dancer to develop this core focus ability by horizonally focusing through their partner while maintaining an awareness of the partner’s core muscles of the abdomen and pelvis.  When the leader shifts his weight with the core muscle groups, it is a sign that he has committed to the movement direction. The follower then has the indicator she needs to implement the directive.

Hurwitz and Hurwitz (2015) imply that the partnering relationship has palpable consequences on how all actions are carried out.  They go on to explain “the core” suggests behavioral norms and strategy in addition to common core values and organizational vision (Hurwitz & Hurwitz, 2015, p. 194).  In an essay about viewing art, Pau Pedragosa explains, while talking about cubism, that a core focus of the eyes horizonally can offer “multiple perspectives on common space and shared time” (Pedragosa, 2014, p. 747). When dancers look beyond the tactile movements of the limbs and focus on the abdominal core they can see the leader’s indicators.

Once the third lesson in ballet partnering is learned, the process replicates through repetitive practice and leader-follower intuition is developed.  Leaders who introduce the tool of using a core focus for developing intuition will experience the accuracy of followers’ subsequent instinct. They can alter their path and followers will recognize what comportment leaders are promoting.


The view of relying on leaders to accomplish organizational success by scientifically delegating and tracking the tasks of company employees is heading for extinction. Followership is a “we generation” concept and it is happening now (Hurwitz & Hurwitz, 2015, p. 4).  Endorsing and training followership behaviors will kindle the personal, professional, and organizational success every leader seeks. Because ballet dancers are strong partners, their followership techniques of framing, improvisation, and using a core focus will also benefit businesses. Following ballet partnering prompts will help all leaders create trust, demonstrate decision advocating, and develop intuition with followers.  The result will be partnering success.


Byington, T. (2010). Keys to successful mentoring relationships. Journal of Extension48(6).

De Clercq, D., & Belausteguigoitia, I. (2017). Reducing the harmful effect of role ambiguity on turnover intentions. Personnel Review46(6), 1046-1069.

Galili, D. F. (2015). Gaga: Moving beyond technique with Ohad Naharin in the twenty-first century. Dance Chronicle38(3), 360-392.

Hurwitz, M. & Hurwitz, S. (2015). Leadership is Half the Story. Toronto, CN: University of Toronto Press.

Melpignano, M. (2017). Embodied philosophy in dance: Gaga and Ohad Naharin’s movement research. Dance Research Journal49(2), 112-114.

O’Conaill, D. (2013). On being motivated. Phenomenology and The Cognitive Sciences12(4), 579-595.

Pedragosa, P. (2014). Multiple horizons: phenomenology, cubism, architecture. European Legacy19(6), 747.

Inspiring: Handbook of a Christian Knight

Christian Knight

Followership dates back to Erasmus, a scholar around 1501.  He was asked how a soldier can change his ways. It inspired Enchiridion militis Christiani, or Handbook of a Christian Knight. Erasmus (1501) offered 22 rules for what we would call “good” followership.

Rule #1  –   Increase Your Faith
Rule #2  –   Act on Your Faith
Rule #3  –   Analyze Your Fears
Rule #4  –   Make Christ the Only Goal of Your Life
Rule #5  –   Turn Away from Material Things
Rule #6  –   Train Your Mind to Distinguish the True Nature of Good and Evil
Rule #7  –   Never Let any Setback Stop You in Your Quest
Rule #8  –   Face Temptation with God, not with Worry
Rule #9  –   Always Be Prepared for Attack
Rule #10  – Always Be Prepared for Temptation
Rule #11  – Guard Against Two Dangers; Surrender and Pride
Rule #12  – Turn your Weakness into Strength
Rule #13  – Treat Each Battle as if it Were Your Last
Rule #14  – Virtue does not Permit Vice
Rule #15  – Weigh Your Alternatives Clearly
Rule #16  – Never, Never, Never Give Up
Rule #17  – Always Have a Plan of Action
Rule #18  – Always Consider the Consequences of Your Actions
Rule #19  – Apply the “Would-My-Loved-Ones-Approve” Test
Rule #20  – Virtue has its Own Reward
Rule #21  – Life is Hard and Quick, Make it Count
Rule #22  – Repent of Your Wrongs

4 Reasons to Cheer instead of Whine

It’s easy to get into a whining habit.  It’s harder to get out of habitual complaining, over-analyzing, and being a fussy grump. Here are 5 reasons to start cheering!

  1. You’re not alone.  Even though you might think you are, you’re not. It’s time to pick your head up and start cheering others on.  You know it can be super rough to stay positive.  Now is the time to put on a hat, walk out of the house, buy 2 cups of coffee, and take one inside to a lonely entrepreneur.
  2. The natural environment exists. Gloomy day, so what! We can miss the beauty of nature if we neglect to look.  Even a cold, wet day can bring so much happiness to your soul if you choose to expose yourself.  Fresh air makes your lungs feel good.  It will also mean a lot more to see spring sprout if you’re allowing your eyes to spot dead leaves disintegrating.
  3. There are always more things to perceive.  Thank goodness everyone is not the same.  Go listen to someone else’s perception of a situation.  Our minds are always active, so it’s very good to input the same thing from different points of view.  When you feel frustrated from waiting in a line for a long time, ask the other’s in line how they are.  You may overwrite some of the reasons you were considering your pout face.
  4. Books.  They are here and available! You can go anywhere in the universe with adventurers.  You can sort out the box of memories.  You can investigate the mystery of angel touched candles.  These handheld devices bring a wealth of hope and peace.

If the holiday stress begins to rise and it’s rough, I hope you will remember some of these stress relievers.  Happy Holidays!

Wound-Licker or Warrior

Inspired by Children of the Day by Beth Moore Lifeway Publications

The gospel of God has the incomparable power to change lives destinies and destinations.  Paul and his traveling companions in 1 Thessalonians 2:3-4 were not driven by…failure, suffering, insults, people, lies wrong reason, tricks, people pleasing, influencing flattery selfishness, human praise.  They were driven by God, bravery, the Good News, God’s test, God’s trust, and God’s heart.

“Sometimes the enemy likes to fuel our feelings of failure.  Just when we finally mustier the courage to act or take a stand for the gospel, he prompts us to believe we blew it…and we start an ongoing cycle of inadequacy.”

“We can’t let Satan shut us in or he wins that battle.  He’s trying to make wound-licker’s out of warriors.  When God opens the door again, let’s stand back up, brush ourselves off, and step through it.”

“Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise.” ~Martin Luther


Seville Arts Project makes a Splash!

The Seville Arts Project is an expressive arts group.  Students meet weekly to use the arts to make friends, feel better about life, and learn how to make positive choices.

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Expressions out of a Bleak Place

“Out of this forgotten, bleak place, an incredible tradition was born,” Marvette Perez said.

I’ve always felt a draw to Hip-Hop dance.  It was obvious to me as a youth that there were roots in this form of expression.  I can remember connecting the dots of tap dancing when I learned that the historical roots were to African Slaves who’s drums were taken away.  Hip-Hop is an expression of freedom.  It is not good or bad – it is free.

When you notice loud expressions and strong movements allow yourself to contemplate: Are there movements that you need to do?  When you choose to express yourself in a dark and bleak place there will be energy connecting you to your root system.  Does the energy inspire you or does the energy hold you back.  Which do you need?  To be held back and practice stability or break free and try something new.

“Hip-hop is the most important contribution to the American cultural landscape since blues and jazz,” said hip-hop artist and promoter, filmmaker and producer Fab 5 Freddy, born Fred Brathwaite. “It is dominant in every youth culture in every country.” According to statistics gathered in 2009 by Russell Simmons and Accel Partners, today’s global hip-hop community comprises 24 million people between the ages of 19 and 34, including a range of nationalities, ethnic groups and religions.

If you desire to experience the freedom of dancing – it might be time to take a class or enjoy a lesson online.  Your roots may not go as deep as a Native American’s moving in prayer for rain or an African American’s hunt for an animal.  Perhaps your obstinate Irish will emerge and you will find yourself dancing in protest. Let it emerge.  These dances of personal expression bring healing.  Enjoy some hip-hop culture today.

Read More:

Carollee Walker wrote for the American Embassy: IIPDigital

Decision Making Dances

There are several dancing techniques that use breathing to help the dancer move.  An exercise I enjoy doing with a mover is the Decision Maker Dance.  Here are the rules.

  1. When you breath into your lungs make a dance movement that goes up.
  2. When you breath out of your lungs make a dance movement that goes down.

I learned this idea by studying José Limón technique and Jennifer Muller technique.  You can click on their names to learn more about them.

Once you’ve practiced moving and breathing within the rules of the exercise; you’re ready for the next step.

Dance up and Dance down


  1. Consider your choices.  How many are there? (You can have up to 7 choices for this exercise, but I recommend narrowing choices to two.)
  2. Assign one choice to movements that go up.
  3. Assign one choice to movements that go down.
  4. If you do need additional choices you can use what is called the Movement Scale.  (Up, Down, Right, Left, Front, Back , and Diagonal)
  5. Allow yourself to make shapes in the space around you as you think or talk through your choices.
  6. Practice committing the movements to memory and select a song.
  7. Listen to the signals your body is giving you.
    • Are you smiling with one choice?
    • Are you coming back to one choice more often?
    • Are you avoiding a direction?

Working through choices can be a challenge.  This exercise will infuse some energy to the process.  Enjoy.