Before coming to Brown, Rachel Moore ’92 danced with American Ballet Theater. Now she’s struggling to balance its $35 million budget.
BAM American Ballet Theater has had four executive directors in as many years, all under artistic director Kevin McKenzie. Is this job impossibly difficult?
Moore It’s a very public position: your successes are pretty public and your failures are pretty public. In order to get work done, you need to build coalitions. Even if you make the right decisions as a lone wolf, if you don’t have the support and understanding of your board and staff and donors, then you can’t succeed. There’s also a fit issue. I know what it takes to make ballets, and I can identify the things we absolutely must have and the things we could spend less on and still have an extremely high-quality product. I also speak the language of business. Similarly, because I understand the needs and language of the dancers and the artistic staff, I can explain why we made certain business decisions in a way that is understandable to the artistic community.
BAM Are there times when Rachel Moore the administrator clashes with Rachel Moore the former dancer?
Moore You have to make tough decisions. Our mission is to be America’s ballet company. If making tough decisions is going to get you to that goal, then you can stomach them.
BAM What tough decisions are you facing right now?
Moore We have a lot of fixed costs. We need to figure out how to reduce those costs but still maintain quality. Then we need to figure out how to move forward with fund-raising. We need to build an endowment.
BAM Does this affect what audiences see?
Moore Obviously the stronger the institution, the more dancers we can hire, the more weeks we can perform, and the more new productions we can do. You can get funding for new productions, but you have to make sure the Swan Lakes of the world are underwritten. As we move into next year, we’re going to be very lean. But it’s imperative that we keep the artistic product high, because once you start chipping away at that, then you have nothing—you have nothing to fund-raise around and nothing to market for.