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Making Room For and Encouraging Spirited Play

Posted by Jessica Gaines
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Making Room For and Encouraging Spirited Play

A barrier to including arts into a business can be the age-old question “How?”. Leadership for many companies wonder how will they do this, and after that, what is the benefit, what does this look like, and more. And while having a fully integrated arts program in your business can be award-worthy (see: Americans for the Arts honors the 10 best businesses in the country that partner with the arts), sometimes it’s important to acknowledge the little steps that can be made in this direction.

 

Like, play.

 

Creating an environment of play can generate space for creativity to flourish.

 

In the article “The Power of Play at Work,” Michelle Burke, team and workplace specialist, shares insight from the founder of the National Institute for Play, “Not only does having a playful atmosphere attract young talent, but experts say play at work can boost creativity and productivity in people of all ages. There is good evidence that if you allow employees to engage in something they want to do, (which) is playful, there are better outcomes in terms of productivity and motivation.”

 

The pARTnership Movement agrees. And this type of play can take on many artistic forms:

 

 

Michelle further details about play, “… employees are more engaged, collaborative, focused when they are working, more creative and ultimately perform better,” noting companies like Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Ideo, all known for work environments that make room for and encourage play.

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Dancing Through the Afternoon Slump

Posted by Melyssa Muro
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More often than not, we aren’t running on all cylinders when 3pm rolls around—or at least, not running with the same amount of energy we had after that morning coffee. While the temptation to grab another caffeine-fueled cup is high, some companies have taken to adopting the arts into lunchtime practices to keep employees engaged and energized. Taking a quick break to get your body moving has proven to revitalize employees for a more productive afternoon, and we all know the arts are a surefire way to recruit and retain employees.

 

United Shore, the mortgage lender, holds 10-minute dance parties every Thursday afternoon; in fact, they have a dance floor that can fit over 100 people for just this occasion. CEO Mat Ishbia gladly participates, because he believes that “the dance parties give them a little break to get up, reenergize themselves, and get back to their day. That energy helps them stay focused."

 

Taking the dance party to the next level are Lunch Breaks, lunchtime dance parties by Flavorpill and Perrier in cities such as NYC, Miami, Chicago, and LA. The midday party series provides a live DJ and a free cocktail for employees to dance their lunch hour away—and even offers a classic bagged lunch as you head back to the office. Past guest DJs of this one-hour special event have included DJ Questlove, Autograf, Penguin Prison, and other big names. In addition to paving the way for a more productive afternoon, the creative practice of office dance parties helps to engage employees with one another and foster a sense of camaraderie among staff.

 

For a more low-key setting, or for those employees who may not be comfortable with the idea of busting a move in the office, Headsets.com incorporates Amy Cuddy’s power pose theory. Members utilize the company conference room to stretch, move, and engage in a bit of role-playing to feel more powerful. Cuddy’s research suggests that stretching your body out and holding power poses (think superman) increases testosterone levels and reduces cortisol (the stress hormone).

 

A CBS report stated: “Believe it or not, [Cuddy’s] studies show that if you stand like a superhero privately before going into a stressful situation, there will actually be hormonal changes in your body chemistry that cause you to be more confident and in-command…[M]ake no mistake, Cuddy’s work is grounded in science.” Grounded in science, but driven by a little bit of creativity and imagination…

 

Photo courtesy of Fast Company.

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CEO Shares 6 Ways Dance Helps Him Lead

Posted by Kate Reese
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Mathew Heggem is a dancer turned CEO of SUM Innovation, a 15 person company that assesses, designs, implements, and manages accounting solutions. After working in the nonprofit world for many years, Matthew changed his career to seek out new experiences. Though one may not think that “choreographer” and “accounting consultant” share many characteristics, Matthew says building a business is creative work.


“I saw building a business as an opportunity to continue my exploration as a creative person. A new business is a blank canvas, and it’s all a matter of leveraging your creativity to create something worthwhile within the context of your resources,” Matthew says in an article on Simply Hired's blog.

 

Creativity enables innovative thinking, and an exposure to art can equip future employees with qualifications that translate across fields. “Discovering the overlap between the outputs of dance and accounting paved the way for me to effectively take on a CEO role.... Instead of seeing myself as only a skilled dance artist, I looked at what made me a choreographer and found that my talents applied to more than just the stage.”
 

Read 6 ways that this CEO’s dance training helps him as a leader in business.

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Creativity: A Critical Element in Corporate Innovation

Posted by Stacy Lasner
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In 2014, Amelia Gandara helped launch 2015 BCA 10 honoree GE’s FirstBuild, which focuses on creating the next generation of home appliances, and she now serves as the Director of Commercialization and Engagement for EnterpriseCorp, which focuses on economic development in Louisville. But before she took on the business world, she was a professional dancer with the Louisville Ballet and Missouri Contemporary Ballet.

 

“Dance prepared me for the ebb and flow of teamwork,” she says in a post for Americans for the Arts ARTSblog.There are times when I’d get a solo, like a presentation to the public in the workplace, and times when I had to blend seamlessly into the corp de ballet, like when preparing for a product launch.”

 

At FirstBuild, Amelia worked side by side with artists that were brought in as collaborators to create new appliances. In addition, the company sought out other engineers who excelled in creativity. “The idea that brilliant engineers can be locked away in a research lab to solve problems is no longer held by the most innovative companies.”

 

Learn more about how ballet helped this engineer achieve big things in Louisville.

 

Learn more about GE’s FirstBuild and the BCA 10 in this year’s program book.
 

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Dance & Design Take Flight for Cole Haan’s Fall ‘15 Line

Posted by Kate Reese
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Dance & Design Take Flight for Cole Haan’s Fall ‘15 Line

Cole Haan recently partnered with parkour athletes and dancers from the New York City Ballet (NYCB) on an ad campaign “Prepare for Takeoff,” designed to convey the ultra-lightness of the company’s new ZeroGrand shoe line. The dancers were photographed in gravity-defying poses at the TWA Flight Center in JFK International Airport, an airy, futuristic space designed by architect Eero Saarinen in 1962.

 

The terminal is the perfect setting to promote the ZeroGrand. “The thing that kind of drew me to it was the idea of ‘take flight,’ which is something that comes very naturally to those dancers,” Cole Haan design director Elyse Siegal told Footwear News. The campaign also promotes Cole Haan’s new Global Innovation Center, which is responsible for a variety of design platforms including the Grand.OS technology used in ZeroGrand.

 

In addition to collaborating on the ad campaign, Cole Haan also partnered with NYCB to create the ZeroGrand Stagedoor Ballet Flat, part of its new fall line.

 

Not only did Cole Haan benefit from the partnership, but according to Sara Mearns, one of the dancers featured in the campaign, the project “challenged the whole cast to think of how creatively we could bring lightness, flexibility, and cushioning to life visually with our movement.” The result is an aesthetic that is both graceful and athletic, conveying a reputation for traditional excellence in combination with groundbreaking artistry. The partnership illuminates the power of the arts to help convey a message about a new product in a deeply emotional, visually captivating way.

 

More information about the partnership and behind-the-scenes footage can be found here.

 

Learn how Payless ShoeSource benefited from partnering with the American Ballet Theatre in The pARTnership Movement essay, "Put Your Company in the Spotlight."

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Classical Ballet is Coming to Your Workplace

Posted by Stacy Lasner
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Classical Ballet is Coming to Your Workplace

Classical ballet is coming to your workplace,” says ballerina Karis Scarlette, founder of En Avant Ballet, in a recent blog post for the Guardian. For employees seated at a computer all day, “ballet’s continual movement patterns provide a graceful, lengthening fluidity that allows even the most inactive of office workers to stretch their stiff bodies and evaluate their posture.” Ballet can even help improve memory, improve focus, and reduce stress.

 

That’s why many companies, including online retailer ASOS, have recently added ballet classes to the benefits available to their employees. “I’ve taught everyone from CEOs and lawyers to designers, secretaries and journalists,” says Scarlette. “While each job role is different, what ballet offers them is universally beneficial.”

 

Read more from Karis Scarlette about the benefits of ballet in the workplace.

 

Photograph © Quinn Dombrowski

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JW Marriott Hotels & Resorts Brings More Poise and Grace to its Business

Posted by Kellyn Lopes
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Poise, grace, posture, and confidence are some of the many exceptional attributes of ballet dancers. JW Marriott Hotels & Resorts also sees these as important qualities its associates need to deliver a superior level of service to its guests.

 

JW Marriott is taking the service culture to a new level with the launch of “Poise and Grace,” a series of video training tutorials led by Ashley Wheater, Artistic Director of The Joffrey Ballet.

 

“At JW Marriott, we look to identify associates that live the brand vision of orchestrating the exceptional, crafting luxurious experiences for guests that are inspired by their passions,” said Mitzi Gaskins, Vice President and Global Brand Manager of JW Marriott Hotels & Resorts.  “Poise and posture are globally recognized cultural cues that reflect the care and dedication our associates provide in every service interaction.”

 

The inspirational videos are typically shown to associates during the daily team meeting. The videos focus on the importance of warming up, breathing techniques, movement flow and connecting with audiences. While hotel guests do not see the videos, they experience the impact: confident, poised associates with strong first impressions and meaningful connections.

 

“We are proud to partner with JW Marriott on the Poise and Grace video training series,” said Wheater. “Ballet technique breeds discipline, self-confidence and a genuine interaction between people. Dancers epitomize poise and grace, and this program is a wonderful way to both celebrate our brand partnership and enhance the JW Marriott guest experience.”

 

  

 

Photo: courtesy of JW Marriott Hotels & Resorts.

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Fashion Label Rag & Bone Features its Fall Collection through Dance

Posted by Kellyn Lopes
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Ballet legend Mikhail Baryshnikov and Jookin pioneer Lil Buck are the stars of Rag & Bone’s newest ad campaign. Designers David Neville and Marcus Wainwright chose to showcase their fall 2015 collection with this short dance film because, as Wainwright said, “Times have changed. Runway shows don’t resonate with the regular guy. So we wanted to challenge ourselves and engage people.”

 

The video connects a raw street aesthetic with sophisticated refinement, pointing to the two dancers as well as the clothing that emulate those qualities.

 

Rag & Bone’s collaboration is a reminder of how the arts are a strategic partner in producing content that creatively engages customers and reinforces brand recognition. This video is a captivating way to showcase the company’s message and promote the new collection in a memorable way. Watch the full video below.

 

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Under Armour Recognizes the Brand-Enhancing Power of Dance

Posted by Patrick O'Herron
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Athleticwear brand Under Armour has partnered with American Ballet Theatre soloist Misty Copeland on a new commercial. The ad was released in conjunction with the brand's new website, I Will What I Want, which "celebrates the will to find inner strength and to follow no one."

 

The 60-second spot begins with Copeland balancing on pointe while her voice is heard reading a rejection letter. As the camera pans over her physique, the letter lists all of the reasons why the applicant didn't make the cut, including the sentence, "You have the wrong body for ballet." Copeland swiftly disproves this statement by dancing a powerhouse solo across a stage.

 

The ad is significant in that Under Armour, whose brand image has traditionally been associated with sport, has chosen to highlight the atheleticism of dance. Utilizing dance as a marketing strategy, the brand recognizes the potential the arts have to reach new audiences and share the brand message in a new and engaging way.

 

Check out the inspiring video below.

 

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From Ballet Dancer to CEO

Posted by Patrick O'Herron
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Another incredible story of dancer-turned-executive! In the following article from The Guardian, Leigh Thomas, CEO of Dare, a UK-based creative agency, discusses the skills she took away from the barre and brought to the board room -- skills such as discipline, attention to detail, and the power of emotional availability.

 

I went from ballet dancer to CEO and this is what it taught me

 


"Even though I can no longer do fouéttes, ballet has been my competitive advantage in business and if I had to pass on one life lesson from it, it would be this from dancer and choreographer, Jacques d'Amboise:

 

'Just remember when you're not practising that someone somewhere is. And when you meet them, they will win.'"

 

-Leigh Thomas, CEO, Dare

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