The commitment and grit behind the work. The love and passion behind the art.
Community Outreach is a vital part of any non-profit. It is by definition, “A corporation or an association that conducts business for the benefit of the general public without shareholders and without a profit motive.” That definition seems to focus on the specifics of financial or business motives. It does not include any notation of just how much community benefit it must have to be a non-profit or maintain its status per say, just that the goal is to “benefit the public”. This leaves much up to the founder’s desire and personal ideas. Should the definition read that it is required to better a certain percentage of the population? Perhaps focus on a demographic. These are what defines them after all, it is innately about the benefit they are providing.
Knowing that Roxey Ballet as a non-profit brings up many questions. Who are we directly serving and what impact are we making. Are we doing our very best to bring the art of dance into the community we serve. Are we facing the challenges of funding head on and with vigor to reach our yearly goal of bringing dance into the classroom and serving hundreds of students, including in special needs environments. Are we creating a welcoming space for our audience to experience dance, and making it accessible to those who have financial difficulty? Are we creating a diverse company that welcomes international dancers as well as chair riders into our professional company. Are we making sure to bring Celebrate Diversity, our signature anti-bulling assembly program, and the recipient of the NJ Governor's Award for Artistic Excellence into as many schools as possible every season?
I can say as part of the Roxey team we are doing those things. These are the questions we answer every day. These are just some of the ways we reach into the community to make it more meaningful. We care very deeply about making sure everything I have listed is a focus and by seasons end we have maintained those relationships throughout the community.
We also produce an incredible season of dance, from our Annual Nutcracker to We Vs. C; Stories of Triumph Over Cancer. This healing arts project is in partnership with Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Hamilton Foundation. "I'm honored and touched to produce a project like this that celebrates the lives of Breast Cancer survivors and all who are facing the challenge of any kind of cancer", says Mark Roxey, choreographer and executive artistic director of Roxey Ballet. "The art of dance is at its best when you are able to create meaning that transcends the art of dance, when you can do something much greater than the single word 'dance'. That is what Roxey Ballet is all about", he said.
Many times, however, it is easy to focus on the doing since it must happen day in and day out to be successful, and we sometimes forget about the receiving. I was reminded of this by a very wonderful family who benefited from the relationship we share with the Vet Tix program. We have been community partners for many years, with a focus of bringing the arts into the community by way of thanking our Veteran’s through complimentary tickets to all our performances throughout the season. This has become so routine that it took a beautiful reminder to see the impact outside of the theater.
We received this note from Patrick, a United States Veteran who brought his family to our Dracula Performance. We met little Nina, who was not only a thoughtful little girl but had eyes that lit up when she entered the theater.
“To the Roxey Ballet owners/staff/performers family. Thank you so very much from the bottom of our hearts. I personally came for the benefit of our little 7-year-old special needs daughter Nina, who absolutely adores dance, but especially ballet. Without a doubt, I expected to have to at some point pull out my cell phone with my earbuds and turn on the ALCS which I rarely if ever miss. As a soldier, and as an officer/911 1st responder, I had a rare opportunity of patrolling Manhattan's Broadway district and attending at least 80 shows with tickets from my affiliates. That being said, I've become somewhat of an amateur connoisseur of Broadway shows and musicals. My daughter, wife, and I were both captivated and transported into a magical world of dance and BETTER than Broadway acting.
We as well as everyone in the theater, were awed by nothing less than the best performance that we had ever experienced. Nina, who was a little nervous, as Dracula is a rather scary imposing figure to even much older persons, was floored when the dashing lead entered the stage. She whispered to me "Daddy Dracula" to which he locked eyes with her for a few seconds, making her feel that she was part of the show. She was bouncing in the hallway during the intermission when two of the loveliest little girls I'd ever seen "Gurta and Aria" came over to her, introduced themselves, and asked if she was a dancer. She replied yes, and they all spoke throughout the entire intermission and invited us to the Roxey's next show "The Nutcracker". Needless to say, we're Roxey fans for life, and plan on purchasing the Family package to all of your future performances. Get used to seeing a whole lot more of us, and thanks for not forgetting about us Vets who greatly appreciate our supporters.
God bless you and keep you,
Paddy, Maya, and little Nina.”
This note was moving to all of us, from Founder to professional dancer. It reminded us that the connections we are striving to make, and our goals of bettering people’s lives are being met. That the tireless missions and desire for public awareness and support of the Roxey Ballet is without question worth it. If we can make little Nina and her family believers and admirers of our work, we can touch everyone’s lives who show up to see what they saw. The commitment and grit behind the work. The love and passion behind the art.
If you have yet to experience one of our performances, there is no better time than the Holidays. Roxey’s Nutcracker opens Thanksgiving weekend at The College of New Jersey, Kendall Main Stage Theater. November 24th -December 2nd. Share the gift of memories with us. Come visit. You might even get to meet Santa.