PROFILES: A DANCER’S DIVERSITY

I hadn’t planned on doing my posts in alphabetical order but it so happens that my first personality  profile  is just that!  Grab your cup of coffee or beverage of choice this is going to take awhile.

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Photo courtesy  of Lisa Spindler

Beginning with MICHAEL ANDERSON seems timely on many levels….the Joffrey Ballet Chicago is in the middle of its current production of Romeo and Juliet (through October 23rd), which has received rave reviews, The Chicago History Museum is opening its next Costume Collection exhibition “Making Mainbocher: The First American Couturier” on Saturday, October 22 and most importantly he celebrated his marriage to Andrew Caruso on Saturday, October 15.

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The engagement photo

More about the Joffrey Ballet in this post as well as upcoming postings. Lots more on the Costume Collection and it’s exhibitions later as well. But now this post is all about Michael and his diverse career in dance and fund raising. Michael and I met and formed our close friendship when he was at Columbia College Chicago and we worked closely together on the annual student produced-student designed fashion show, Fashion Columbia.

Michael was born in Salt Lale City, Utah.  Around age eight or nine months his family moved to Alaska.  He lived in Juneau until he was 8 and then moved back to rural Salt Lake City where he lived through grade school and high school.  His first impression of his talent was around age 5 or 6 when he would put on his Mother’s records and dance all over the house. He had studied ballet as a young boy and found it fascinating particularly the discipline and choreography. He attended Southern Utah University majoring in Accounting, where he danced as well.   He changed his degree to Marketing and Public Relations with a minor in Ballet, he had a ballet scholarship.  Dancing is definitely in his DNA. While in college, he appeared in A Chorus Line in the role of Chester.  In addition to ballet, he studied jazz and also performed in  legitimate theater. Thinking ahead, he added Administration to his major while in graduate school.

Upon graduation in 1992 he was offered a position in the Pacific Northwest Ballet School or the Joffrey Ballet School in New York.  He chose the Joffrey (good choice!) He spent a summer there and worked as a temp for Kelly Services.  During this time, 1992, he also performed in three productions for the Tulsa, Oklahoma Ballet. Michael danced with the Joffrey from 1992-2005 and traveled with the company all over the world.

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                                              The Nutcracker photo credit Herb Migdoll

When the Company moved it’s home to Chicago Michael  made the transition with the Company when it premiered Billboards, with music by Prince, at the Rosemont Theater.  He is in the Robert Altman 2003 film, The Company.  Michael continues to perform as well as teach ballet.

image                                                      The Nutcracker photo credit Herb Migdoll

In 2005 The Vice President of Development at Columbia College Chicago asked him to come to CCC in the Institutional Development department where he stayed for a year and a half…2005-2007, this is when we first met.  He left to become Associate Artistic Director of the Michigan Ballet Theater from 2007-2008 at which time he returned to Columbia as Associate Vice President for Institutional Advancement.  He is currently the Deputy Director of Institutional Advancement at the Chicago History Museum and works directly with donors to secure the advancement of the Museum.  Michael has received many accolades among them being honored by the state of Utah as an outstanding artist in 1996.  Michael wrote and directed the 2014 Telluride AIDS  Benefit in Telluride, Colorado.  He chaired the Dance for Life  benefiting the AIDS Foundation of Chicago in 2014 and 2015 and continues to serve on their Board.  He is currently active on the boards of Chicago Dancers United and the Chicago Gay Men’s Chorus.

Having a dancer’s discipline Michael turned his thoughts to other “sports” and did his first Triathlon in 2008.

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My version of The Proust Questionaire….

Q. When did you know you had made it….

A. When I got the  contract with the Joffrey Union I knew I wouldn’t have to be a bartender on the side.

Q. What would have been your alternative choice as a career…was there one…

A. Arts Administrator or have a yoga studio on an island in the South Pacific

Q. Favorite book, movie….

A. Historical novels, American history, Shakespeare.  I love all movies but would say Musicals such as Music Man, My Fair Lady, Oliver as well as action films such as the Die Hard series and James Bond films.  Love Disney animated films…..

Q. Hobbies….

A. Arts and crafts, knitting is relaxing for me and, of course, the Triathlon.

Q. Your home interior style is….

A. Mid-Century Modern

Q. In order, your cultural preferences….

A. Ballet, Musical Theater, Legitimate Theater such as Shakespeare, Opera, Symphony

Q. Favorite ballet you performed in….

A. Sleeping Beauty and Monotones

Monotones

Photo credit Herb Migdoll

IslBG
IslBG

Q.Favorite Chicago Restaurant….

A. Alinea

Q.  Favorite vacation spot visited and on list….

A.  Most of all I loved Japan. I would like to go back to China

Q. Fantasy dinner party of 10….

A. William Shakespeare, Vaslav Nijinsky, Sergei Diaghilev, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Audrey Hepburn, Julie Andrews, Bette Midler, Marie Antoinette, Michael Anderson

Q. Favorite City Art Piece….

A. AGORA by Magdalena Abakanowicz     Located in Grant Park on Michigan Avenue and Roosevelt Road

imagePhoto by Nena Ivon

Q. How do you want to  be remembered….

A. A true friend and generous spirit

I then asked Michael what was the best advice he has been given that he wanted to share…

“The most profound thing I was told as a young 19-year-old, out on my own for the first time and have learned to apply in my incarnations was what a wise mentor told me the most important thing I can say to you is that you need to remember isthat you need to bloom where you are planted’ and nothing can go wrong.  I have taken these words with me through out all my paths from going to New York to join the Joffrey, to working in development at Columbia College Chicago to Institutal Advancement at the Chicago History Museum, in my teaching, when I am in competitions and in my life.  I feel it is the best advice I have ever been given and I can give”.

Bloom Where You Are Planted,  sounds like perfect advice for life!

 

Links:

Chicago History Museum  https://www.chicagohistory.org/

Joffrey Ballet   https://www.joffrey.org/

Chicago Dancers United  https://chicagodancersunited.org/

Chicago Gay Men’s Chorus   https://www.cgmc.org/

Chicago Triathlon  https://www.chicagotriathlon.com/

 

 

 

REFLECTIONS: AN INTRODUCTION

Well, here we go….I have been waiting to start my blog NENA’SNOTES for what seems like ages, actually, it has been ages!

I, therefore, feel it is necessary to give you my thoughts on what you can expect on what will become daily postings.

It began with the current trend of focusing on people reinventing themselves, through career and/or lifestyle changes.  I realized that there are so many of my friends and acquaintances whose diverse lives now are totally different from how they started.  First up were my many former models who were superstars in the myriad shows I produced during my lengthy career as Fashion and Special Director at Saks Fifth Avenue, Chicago.  Most, if not all, have totally changed careers and become successful with their new life choices.  You will learn their stories, reminiscences and photos from then and now.

      imageMY MODEL CREW IN THE 1960’S

I thought why not carry this further to my other friends and people I know who had fascinating stories to tell and was I correct in that assumption!  I began this process with a handful of people, which soon became many more, by doing an in person hour long taped conversational interview and Proust-like questionnaire.  Again, I asked for photos and this time a favorite recipe. I hope you will enjoy these posts as much as I am enjoying gathering them.  They are riveting.

These two groups of conversations will be my Monday posts, here is what I have planned for Tuesday through Friday:

Tuesday….Books, books, books.  I’m afraid I have a book fetish, especially fashion books. It seems to be my goal in life to own every fashion book printed!!! So we will start there.  I do read a lot, particularly historical fiction, I love fiction about “real” people, we will go that route as well.  Nothing like a good English mystery but don’t mind a “Cozy” once in awhile and can never miss Louis Penny’s newest (who doesn’t love Armand!).  So much to read so little time.

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  A SAMPLING OF THE CHANEL LIBRARY

Wednesday….Miscellany day could be a great recipe, restaurant, movie, play….whatever strikes my fancy that week.

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CHICAGO HISTORY MUSEUM TIFFANY STAINED GLASS

Thursday….Homes and Gardens, again tapping my friends and their eclectic styles, mostly self-decorated homes and brilliant gardens.  A glimpse at my tiny space as well.

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                                                A FRIEND’S EXQUISITE SOLARIUM

Friday….Fashion Flashback.  I’ve worked with over 150 designers and fashion personalities through the years and want to share some of these experiences with you.  I’m sure those of you who know me thought the blog would be all about the “glamorous” fashion shows I produced, yes, there is that but the nitty gritty as well and only one day a week.

Nena, Pauline Trigere, Bill Blass
Nena, Pauline Trigere, Bill Blass

Here we go….I hope you will join me on my on reinvention.