Andrea Snyder Receives Trustees Award: Fearlessness—My Mantra

Andrea Snyder received the 2011 Trustees Award in recognition of her commendable leadership in the dance field throughout her career, including her tenure as executive director at Dance/USA, assistant director for the Dance Program at the National Endowment for the Arts, and her dedicated service to the field. Ms. Snyder takes her place among fellow Trustees Award recipients Alan M. Kriegsman, Dr. Richard Gibbs, and Rena Shagan. Presented at the discretion of the Dance/USA Board of Trustees, the Trustees Award recognizes an outstanding professional whose work has special significance to the field. The award was given on July 15, 2011, during the Dance/USA Honors Celebration, a part of the Dance/USA Annual Conference held July 13-16 in Chicago, IL.

Introductory remarks by Linda Shelton, executive director, Joyce Theater Foundation:
Good evening. I am Linda Shelton and joining me are Dance/USA past board chairs David Mallette and D. David Brown to present the Trustees Award to Andrea Snyder. I had the privilege of chairing the Dance/USA board from 2000-2002 in between the Davids, shortly after Andrea took the helm. It was a great pleasure to work with her early in her tenure and to watch her accomplish so much on behalf of all of us over the years. I look forward to a continuing and rich friendship with Andrea for years to come.

Photo by Kristie Kahns Photography
Introductory remarks by D. David Brown, former chair, Dance/USA and executive director, Pacific Northwest Ballet:

I am D. David Brown and I was chair of Dance/USA for two years during a time of significant transition in the executive director’s office. In each of those years, we had a change in executive director leading to speculation that perhaps the “Curse of D. David” had some validity and I was promptly replaced as chair.

As chair of the Search Committee, I recall when we first interviewed with Andrea for the executive director position and how all of us were struck by her energy and drive, but most of all her passion for Dance. And we made a great choice.

But this award is not just for Andrea. Through the Trustees Award, we acknowledge the work that all of you do, often behind the scenes and with little recognition, to bring memorable performances to audiences around the world. It acknowledges your passion and commitment to discover talent in young people and nurture that talent. It acknowledges your efforts in ensuring rewarding career paths for dancers at all levels of the field. By honoring Andrea, we honor you.

Remarks by David Mallette, senior associate at Management Consultants for the Arts and former chair at Dance/USA:

If we are very lucky, in another life, we will come back …

  •  as compassionate as you
  •  as passionate as you
  •  as patient as you
  •  as graceful as you
  •  as gracious as you
  •  and – as tall as you.Thank you for giving so richly to us through your service to Dance/USA.

Remarks by Andrea Snyder:
A dear friend and colleague suggested I respond with a tweet – 140 characters. That’s just not gonna happen! I’m no tweeter!

I am truly moved to receive this recognition from Dance/USA. It’s been my honor to serve you, the dance community, for these past 11 years. Every day brought a great variety of meetings and calls, filled with new learning and exciting challenges and, when appropriate, laughter … or travel across the country. What I was able to accomplish was simply a reflection of all your hard work and creativity and the practice of your high values in your daily life. You fed my spirit and inspired me.

Thank you to six extraordinary dance leaders: Dance/USA’s Board chairs. You volunteered your time, energy and vision to provide the organization and me with your guidance, insight, encouragement, clarity and your treasured friendship.

Thank you to all the board members who willingly gave so much of your time and judgment and provided me with wise guidance and leadership. You have been on the front lines, and your insights have been critical to the decisions we made to continually improve Dance/USA.

Thank you to the Dance/USA staff members, past and present. You worked tirelessly for the membership and the organization. Your passion, intelligence and camaraderie made every day a rewarding experience for me. It was a pleasure to work with you.

Thank you to the funders (and, by extension, panelists) who believed in the need for Dance/USA, its mission and its programs. We benefitted immeasurably from your willingness to listen and to ask important questions that furthered our thinking and practices. Thank you, again and again, for entrusting your funds to Dance/USA. Your support was a priceless vote of confidence in our organization, our mission and our accomplishments. Thank you to the members for recognizing Dance/USA as an instrument of value for your organization and yourself. Dance is my home and you are my family.

In the face of artistic repression, budget cuts, a general disregard for the arts in the United States, and for this art form in particular, with the growing lack of space to create and perform work, the decline of touring opportunities, the loss of high quality and the frequency of dance criticism, international competition, declining audiences—need I say more?—you have remained a fearless community, dancing toward the problems and finding innovative solutions and alternatives that keep us moving forward. Over the past 11 years at Dance/USA, what I have learned from all of you is the value of fearlessness. I will take this with me as I move on. Many of you know that central to my transition from Dance/USA is a desire to give back and contribute in a different way, as a management and leadership strategist, specializing in executive coaching. Fearlessness will be my mantra.

I applaud you and thank you for leading the way for me … and I challenge you to work together to design a new future for this magnificent art form.

Andrea Snyder joined Dance/USA as president and executive director in February 2000; she completed her tenure in June 2011 to become a certified personal/executive coach for arts leaders. She came to Dance/USA after creating the National Initiative to Preserve America’s Dance (NIPAD) grants program for The Pew Charitable Trusts, which she directed from 1993 to 2000. She served as assistant director of the National Endowment for the Arts Dance Program through the “arts wars” of 1987 to 1993. Previously she held a broad range of positions across the dance field: booking agent for Sheldon Soffer Management; executive director of Laura Dean Dancers and Musicians; administrator of the New York University Tisch School of the Arts Dance Department; associate administrator for the Cunningham Dance Foundation; and assistant to Director Muriel Topaz of the Dance Notation Bureau.

Snyder has served on many state arts council grant panels, as well those for Arts International, the Capezio/Ballet Makers Dance Foundation and the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation. She is the immediate past chair of the Performing Arts Alliance, the national advocacy organization for the performing arts, and she remains a member of the 2005 inaugural Dance Magazine Board of Advisors. From 1995-2008, she was moderator of The John F. Kennedy Center’s contemporary dance post-performance artist/audience discussions.

Snyder began as a dancer and technique teacher after graduating from The American University, and later earned an M.A. in Arts Management from NYU. She has served as an adjunct professor in arts administration at The American University; and lectured on dance at the Florida State University (FSU) in NYC program. Snyder is also an alumna of the James P. Shannon Leadership Institute and recipient of the 2001 Congress on Research in Dance Award. A comprehensive chapter in Renata Celichowska’s recent book, Seven Statements of Survival, profiles Snyder’s life/career in dance.


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