I was watching the classic adventure movie, “The Great Escape” with the production assistant for the Snowblower Ballet because I thought there might be some management lessons we could learn from what it’s like to organize a massive breakout from a German prisoner of war camp during World War II that we could apply to putting on a snowblower ballet.
The organizer of the escape — Squadron Leader Bartlett, or “Big X” as he’s called by his fellow prisoners — has to recruit collaborators with a pretty diverse set of skills: tunnel kings, forgers, scroungers, tailors to make civilian clothes, people who can manufacture air bellows, people who can hide the dirt.
Similarly with the snowblower ballet, we’ve got to recruit and assemble a lot of different moving parts: a choreographer, dancers, an orchestra, a venue, a sound system and a videographer, a drone pilot, costumes, marketing people, social media helpers.
Instead of moving dirt, we’re going to be moving snow, so we’ll need snowblowers and shovels and volunteers. And of course we need to raise more money to make it happen, which he hope to do with the generous support of people like you.
I’ve already got some great partners: Jon Lewis and the Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra, Zoé Emilie Henrot and the St. Paul Ballet, and my production assistant, Andrea Leap, despite the fact that she thinks “The Great Escape” should be retitled “The So-So Escape” because nearly everyone gets recaptured.
In “The Great Escape,” there were plenty of headaches for Big X, played by Richard Attenborough: tunnel collapses, Blythe going blind, Royal Navy officers being late to committee meetings, Danny having a claustrophobia attack, the tunnel coming up short of the woods. Vexing.
Yet in the end, despite not making it home, Big X declares that the effort was all worth it, that he’s never been happier. I hope I feel that way. Stay tuned.