All the world’s a stage at She Sails

There is so much more to the performing arts than the actors that you see on stage. In a She Sails panel on Friday, April 30, two Dana alumnae, Audrey Appleby ‘70 and Vanessa Uzan ‘96, told us about the many roles that fill out the performing arts world. 

Ms. Appleby wears many hats as “a singer, a songwriter, a performer, a teacher,” as well as the founder of the Magic Dance School in Greenwich, CT. She graduated from Tufts University with a bachelor’s degree, studied in the MFA dance studies program at Sarah Lawrence, and earned her MBA from New York University’s Stern School of Business.

Ms. Uzan is the founder and president of UIA Talent Agency. She graduated from the New York University Tisch School of the Arts with a degree in film. Ms. Uzan tried to get into acting as early as high school, but realized that she enjoyed the business side of the performing arts industry. She started her company to represent all performing arts people, whether that be dancers or classically trained opera singers.

Both women had much to say about how the pandemic had affected their industry. Ms. Uzan said that nothing has come back from the pandemic in the performing arts, only a select few outdoor performances. She lost 85% of her profits in 2020 and “about 70% for this year. We’re hoping that it comes back in the fall.” Ms. Uzan says that film and television have come back earlier, but the Broadway and stage performers have had nothing. “Their entire being is creating and exploring and performing and interacting with colleagues and live audiences, and that was gone.”

Ms. Appleby said that she and other performers had to become very inventive with creative outlets. She explained, “Singers started creating classes, interesting classes. I’ve paid to go to so many different Zooms with the person who runs Birdland in New York and different cabaret famous singers like Amanda McBroom.” Appleby explains that she had to become very open and receptive to change in terms of her dance class. She said she had to be able to pivot her classes to be fully on Zoom and figure out how to keep her 1-3-year-old students engaged over the computer.

Ms. Appleby advised that performing artists have some other skill ready to share with the world. “My advice is that … sometimes you have to start thinking, How can I offer something to get paid?” She said that it took resilience and determination to keep both her dance studio and her personal performing career going at a time where the world shut down.

The full presentation is available for viewing on the She Sails website.

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