It was rigorously orchestrated, at times quite colorful and, in the end, a thing of beauty.
A performance by the world-renowned Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater? Sort of. But it didn’t involve a mastery of modern movement or a cadre of exquisitely muscled artists.
This one took place behind the scenes and, ultimately, rendered a result that deserved a standing O or, at very least, a thunderous round of applause.
We’re talking fundraising, of course — specifically the five-year capital campaign that brought in $72 million to build a new home for what is perhaps the country’s most beloved dance group, complete with a cozy little endowment.
The original goal for the campaign was $66 million to cover the $54 million price tag for the building and a $12 million endowment. Talking with Bennett Rink, who as director of development at the NYC-based Ailey presided over the campaign, you would think the massive effort was, indeed, a complex pas de deux or other similarly magical component of the dance. He explains it all in painstaking detail, each carefully choreographed phase fused seamlessly to the next in logical progression. And it seems, just as one phase started to perhaps lose a little momentum, something “big” occurred — either by design or happenstance — to move the campaign to the next level.
The project started in 1998, when the burgeoning dance group was living out of a two-floor space in a multi-purpose building at 61st Street between 10th and 11th avenues, squeezing rehearsal and performance space, offices and everything else in to 36,000 square feet. A strategic plan determined it needed a little more room — like, oh, twice the space — to give dancers and the organization in general the space to be the best it could be and to grow to expand and refine its mission.