Miami City Ballet’s mission is to produce and present the highest level of dance performances throughout Florida, the United States and abroad, train young aspiring dancers, and develop Miami City Ballet School into a leader of dance education.
It was a familiar story in the midst of the pandemic: After a year and a half of stillness, Miami City Ballet (MCB) was eager to welcome back patrons with open arms. They wanted to offer a chance for everyone to escape, even briefly, the mundane everyday routines we all knew too well by then. They hoped to reconnect audiences, and the world, with the joyful connection that is awoken throughout a crowd experiencing a live performance together.
MCB had the opportunity to capture broader audiences through its branding and marketing efforts. While the current audiences are older and are already ballet lovers, MCB had the opportunity to appeal to a broader set of persuadable arts, culture, live entertainment goers who are “ballet curious”. Those are people who may or may not have current attachment to ballet but whose psychographics and values indicate that they can develop a connection to ballet in the future.
For the third year, MCB once again engaged Haft2 to design the program for the 2021/2022 season, a program to communicate all the joy and sense of freedom the arts can bring to tired spirits. The season design needed to be flexible to be used in print, digital and environmental applications.
In discussions with MCB, we refined and fleshed out their want-list of what the program should convey. The key aspects to express were:
- Escape – far away from the mundane everyday
- Sense of freedom – the antithesis of restraint; a drop of wildness, unstructured beauty, a sense of abandon
- Warm and welcoming – open arms to everyone, young and old, ballet aficionados and newcomers alike
- Joyful connection – the thrill of reconnecting to audiences and to the world; MCB embodies that joy and wants their audiences to feel it
- Authentically Miami – strong sense of place and pride in South Florida
- Blockbusters – a mix of beloved classics that are “do not miss” events and new works
Haft2 recommended a bold, dynamic new image that appealed to the emotional and experiential value proposition of live ballet performance; MCB had the opportunity to capture the imagination, curiosity and aspiration of broader prospective set of audiences.
With MCB’s wish list in hand, one thing was certain: We had to take things outside.
We named the season theme / program Sunshine in Motion. The program had two purposes: An invitation for audiences to return to or discover MCB, and an overview of the scheduled performances. The photography for those two purposes was necessarily going to be different.
First, for the invitation portion, we took things outside: Images, flowing, lithe, and bright, were taken in Bonnet House Museum and Gardens in Fort Lauderdale by renowned fashion photographer Gary James. The dancers, dressed in ballet-appropriate clothes – but not costumes – were in poses that, for all their delicate grace, were uplifting and fun.
Second, into the MCB studio we went, shooting tableaux of the scheduled performances, capturing the glow and power of live ballet. The poses were more formal than in the outdoor shoot, but the joy of the dancers poured out of the images tied the two sets together.
The decorative font we chose for the program headlines repeated that freedom and joy. Best of all, Haft2 animated the font for use in the campaign.
The anticipated production – a combination of video, large projection screens, and live performances – has garnered local, national and international attention. With a limited budget of paid support and PR, subscriptions out on hold were regained and new subscription sales increased; ticket sales exceeded all expectations within the first two weeks. Ultimately, The Nutcracker and Swan Lake sold out performances; indeed, Swan Lake has added additional matinee performances.
And while Haft2 can’t take any responsibility for the actual performances, we still thrilled to the rave reviews: The New York Times dance critic Gia Kourlas questioned, “Isn’t it time for New York to have this ‘Swan Lake’, too?”, and reported that she felt that she had “finally seen ‘Swan Lake’ and many more people should see it, too.”
Haft2 is honoured to start working on the 2022/23 season, with the next photoshoot scheduled for March 2022.