N: You have been working not only on creating a budget but on developing a 5 year budget plan. Can you talk a little about what you’ve learned about Alive and the company’s values through that process? What was something surprising that came out of planning and dreaming years in advance?
BB: Breaking down the budget and looking ahead has really solidified the community connections we want to have. Whether that’s our internal community of members, our connection with other area artists, or our partnerships with local nonprofits and organizations, our budget reflects a desire to honor the work of those we’re connected to currently and hope to connect with in the future. This is an important value for Alive and one that our budget clearly celebrates.
One of the priorities in the 5 year plan is putting money back into the hands of our own artists. While Alive is a “passion project”, it still requires a lot of time and energy from those involved, and that work deserves to be compensated. Paying the administrative team for their hard work and removing the out-of-pocket fees for members to pay for rehearsal space are big priorities in our new budget, and when broken down over five years, are achievable goals (which was surprising!). Rather than starting with what we ideally want to see these individuals paid, we’re building in stipends over time to gradually increase the pay until, in five years, it’s where we want. The Monkeyhouse Spring Fling Fundraiser is allowing us to get this process started and we’re beyond grateful!
N: Through the Vault grant you are receiving mentoring from Monkeyhouse. Can you talk about something you were nervous about going into that process? What have you learned so far? What are you still hoping to dig into?
BB: Luckily for me, I know and love the Monkeyhouse team, so I didn’t feel any nervousness going into the process-only excitement! I know that karen and Nicole value meeting people where they are and helping people and organizations reach their goals as opposed to forcing ideas upon them, so I felt eager to explore! I’ve been most interested in the conversations around how to build community, as that’s something that’s very important to me. There’s always more to explore there and I can’t wait to keep talking about that!
N: Why is mentoring important to you? Think a bit about the mentoring you have received in your life and where it has come from. Think especially about unexpected relationships or mentoring that has come from completely outside of your field. Can you tell us a bit about one specific mentoring experience and the impact it has had on you?
BB: Mentoring is important to me for many reasons. Talking about dance strengthens the work, resulting in more accessible, interesting, and engaging choreographies. While formal mentorship has been an important part of developing pieces, I have particularly enjoyed the more “casual” peer-to-peer mentorship I’ve received throughout my dance career. These moments happen often; in rehearsals, over text, on car rides, etc. I love sharing my work with Alive members and other dancers I know well and discussing what’s happening. Having these conversations with those close to me allow me to think deeply about my work and what I’m presenting. I also often am able to get feedback from close friends who aren’t dancers, which is also immensely valuable. Alive strives to have work accessible to all, so hearing from a non-dancer what they’re taking away from choreography helps to shape the work.
N: Who is your community? Why does community matter? What makes you feel part of the community? What do you want to see to make the community feel more connected?
BB: Alive’s current community consists of our members, our audiences, the artists we work with in the area, and the local organizations we partner with. Community is important because connection is innately human and life works best when we come together. Existing in a vacuum does not result in satisfaction or larger success; community is needed to make that happen. For me, feeling like part of the community comes from connections that feel safe and working towards common goals. I hope that over time the community Alive is creating becomes more integrated. For example, this past season our workshops at The Somerville Community Growing Center were attended by the Growing Center’s community, whereas Alive’s performance was attended by our community. In the future, I hope that both communities (and more!) attend all events and create one large community to learn, grow, and connect with. Alive plans for sustained partnerships with local organizations to allow this to happen.
N: Land acknowledgements are often given for the spot you are on in the moment, but we’ve all occupied land for our entire lives. Where are you from? Where are you living now? Where does the majority of your work take place? Whose land is it? How does the land you are on impact you as a human and as an artist? How has place shaped the work you are making?
BB: I grew up mostly on Wabanki land, but now live on the land of Massachuset and Pawtucket people, which is also where the majority of Alive’s work takes place. Place has definitely shaped work we’ve made, particularly in our recent show Bloom. In that production, all of our work related to nature; Audrey choreographed a piece inspired by hiking the White Mountains, Tova’s piece pulled from her explorations around her neighborhood to watch the summer sunsets, I choreographed a piece filmed on Nahant beach, and Lila filmed her piece in the Somerville Community Growing Center. Land is something to which we all have connection, so creating work inspired by it allows for choreography that is accessible to our audiences.