This week on TheatrePeople, please meet Abby McCuen. Abby is a ballet producer, grant writer, educator and an incredibly kind and creative theatrical mind. She leads with conviction and heart, and has curated a family of artists at the Savannah Ballet who are committed to each other, the stories they tell, and the audiences they inspire. In this time of great uncertainty for the arts, there is no one in the world of theatre I'm prouder to introduce you to.
What’s a show that inspires you? (explain away!)
My favorite ballet of all time is Giselle. I love the classic white tutus and the macabre story line. It’s not your typical ballet where everyone sails off into the sunset with their one true love. To me the ballet embodies female empowerment! Also, the music is AMAZING!
What’s one of your happiest moments in ballet?
There is nothing better than seeing a child enjoying their time on the stage. I’m a huge arts advocate and have developed a passion for growing the next generation of artists. Nothing makes me happier than hearing kids talk about their time on stage and watching them bloom into true artists!
What’s the biggest ‘fail’ or goof you’ve seen on stage? (do tell the story)
I saw a professional ballet company (I won’t name names! :) ) in February 2019. The production was incredible...flying dancers...beautiful costumes...incredible sets! You get the picture. During a scene change, a backdrop came down too soon and almost crushed a set piece and a dancer. I clenched my fists and let out a quiet “oh no!” I love live theatre and times like that make you understand that anything can happen on stage! Even with the most advanced, professional of companies. Thankfully, the show continued on and was one of the most amazing shows I’ve ever witnessed.
Why do you love ballet?
Two reasons: ballet is the basis of all movement. I can always tell when someone has studied ballet. I also love ballet because it makes me so happy. The lines that the dancers make and the flawless movement across the stage is just awesome. Even the saddest stories can be told through the most beautiful movement.
Theatre/ballet is for...
I have a BFA in Theatre, but have returned to work in the field of ballet. Musical Theatre stole my heart in college, but I always come back to the art of dance! No matter what is going on in your world, you can take a ballet class, or attend a musical to help forget your woes. Sitting in a theatre for two hours and escaping your world is the true meaning of theatre.
More about Abby...
Ms. McCuen is a graduate of Valdosta State University with a Bachelors of Fine Art in Theatre, with a dance minor. Her choreography has been showcased at the American College Dance Festival and various competitions throughout the southeast. She has danced in 7 countries and has attended workshops at Millennium Dance Complex, Broadway Dance Center, Rosella Hightower Ecole du Danse, Mansle Ecole du Danse, and The Atlanta Ballet. After college, Ms. McCuen beat 700 other applicants for coveted job at Paramount Pictures Studios in Hollywood, California. She worked on The Dr. Phil Show, The Doctors, True Jackson V.P., and Bingo America. Abby moved back to Savannah and started working for Savannah Ballet Theatre in 2010. She is currently in charge of fundraising, grant writing, and educational outreach for the company. She recently created three original ballets for SBT, The Wizard of Oz, The Little Mermaid, and The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. Ms. McCuen loves watching kids enjoy dancing, and giving them the opportunity to grow. She has danced many roles throughout her career, but her favorite role is being a mom to Piper and Alice.
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