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Jul 14, 2020

This week on 5.6.7.EIGHT, Aleksandra speaks with Alicia Graf Mack — a veteran dancer, the director at the world-renowned Juilliard School, and the co-founder of the D(n)A Arts Collective, which seeks to enrich the lives of young dancers through master classes and intensives. Graf Mack’s accolades include being named American Innovator of the Arts and Sciences by Smithsonian Magazine, receiving the Columbia University Medal of Excellence, and delivering the keynote address at the Columbia University’s School of General Studies graduation ceremony.

Alicia is no stranger to adversity, as her thriving dance career was put “on pause” due to injuries and a newfound auto-immune disorder. However, in retrospect, Alicia now recognizes that all of these experiences — both positive and negative — put her on a path to arrive where she is today. On the podcast, Alicia reflects on her dance journey and discusses — among many other things — how we can find the positive in both the good and the bad, even if it takes us time to get there.


Moving Quotes:

“I think the time when I was not dancing actually informed me as an artist more than being a dancer could. Because I had the chance to ‘learn myself’ — myself not as a dancer or an artist — and also to really understand all of the mechanisms that shape the arts world, especially from a business perspective… I don’t regret having injuries or stepping away."

“It’s interesting. There are certain tenants that stay the same [between business administration and arts administration]. And that is culture, community, inspiration, passion — all of those things have to live for any organization or institution to survive and thrive."

“The more [women] leaders that we have across fields, the more that we can mentor and grow.”


Bullet Points (w/ timestamps) - Highlighting key topics discussed:

3:05: Alicia speaks to why she takes pride in her workplace — The Juilliard School — and how the conservatory’s culture is the perfect atmosphere for artists.

6:07: Alicia discusses her personal views on the elements that make organizational culture great.

9:23: Graf Mack walks through her journey in dance and reflects on how, in retrospect, her various positive and negative life experiences made perfect sense to get her where she is today.

13:32: Alicia explains her decision to pursue a history degree while studying at Columbia University.

16:35: Graf Mack discusses the two people that inspired her decisions to seek a master’s degree at Washington University in St. Louis and pursue a degree in arts administration.

19:26: Graf Mack describes her experience doing the keynote address at Columbia University’s General Studies commencement ceremony.

22:19: Alicia shares her thoughts on the role of women in the arts and business communities and the road forward for women leaders.

24:10: Alicia discusses the D(n)A Arts Collective — how it began and what the organization is all about.

28:53: Alicia shares her hopes for her future, the future of The Juilliard School, and the future of the D(n)A Arts Collective.


Bullet List of Resources – 

Alicia Graf Mack


D(n)A Arts Collective