Meet Kristen Brogdon and ask her your questions

Jul 09, 2019

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Kristen Brogdon Kristen Brogdon
Photo by Todd Rosenberg

Northrop recently welcomed Kristen Brogdon as the new Director of Programming. We wanted to introduce her to our readers and fans and invited her to share her expertise with this blog post. We’d like you to be able to ask her questions as well and invite you to email them to northrop@umn.edu with the subject line “Kristen Brogdon Q&A” by Mon, Jul 15. Starting at 1:00 pm on Tue, Jul 16, we’ll interview Kristen in a Facebook Live post posing your questions and inquiries.

Please tell us about your background and experience.

I started my arts presenting career at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC in the Dance Programming office, after internships at the Spoleto Festival USA and American Dance Festival. Even though I danced throughout my youth, it was at the Kennedy Center that I had my real education in ballet. We presented six companies each season, usually for a week each, and all with live orchestra. There I saw most of the major story ballets–some multiple times, including the extreme example of three Giselles in one year. We also regularly presented mixed repertory programs, which I’ve always enjoyed for their choreographic and musical variety. The Kennedy Center also curated a modern dance season, with typically 6-8 companies each year, both domestic and international.

After 9 years at the Kennedy Center, I moved to Chicago to work for Hubbard Street Dance Chicago. There I had the opportunity to work under two artistic directors, and we were creating 4-6 new works every year with a new artistic team each time. Most recently I spent 4 years at UNC Wilmington as the director of their Office of the Arts. There I presented music, theatre, and interdisciplinary work in addition to dance and started a summer festival called Lumina Festival of the Arts (which opens Fri, Jul 12, so I’m thinking of my former colleagues this week!)

Have you worked with Northrop and the University of Minnesota in the past?

My prior experience with Northrop was actually during the renovation. I managed the tour and came to Minneapolis with Hubbard Street when Northrop hosted us at the State Theater in 2013.

What are your favorite performing arts experiences?

My favorite performing arts experiences are the ones that make me think and feel. I’ve been known to cry in the theater, whether those are tears of joy, pain, or empathy. I find that the performances that stick with me the longest, that I remember for years or decades, are the ones that I want to talk about afterwards, often because they introduced a new idea, challenged something I thought I knew, or were examples of stellar technique or craft. When I get both the emotional release and the intellectual stimulation in one performance, that’s a keeper.

What are you most looking forward to at Northrop?

I’m excited to experience the coming season with our audience, learning more about what looks and sounds great in our hall and what inspires our patrons. Simultaneously I’ll be planning the following season as well as dreaming about a long-range creative process that includes our campus and regional communities. I think there are lots of opportunities for Northrop to expand its impact by growing relationships with artists and with community partners.

What do you have planned for your first 100 days in the new position?

The first few weeks in a new job for me are always about listening and learning. I’m getting to know my new colleagues, and since I’m also new to the Twin Cities I’m also learning about the arts community. The next phase is more active research. That means I’ll be getting out to meet our community partners, I’ll be partaking in as many Twin Cities arts events as I can, I’ll be getting up to speed on our upcoming programs I haven’t seen personally. I’m also planning a late summer trip to Jacob’s Pillow and the Joyce Theater to see some possible future Northrop artists. Finally, in a beautiful coincidence of the calendar, in the last 4 of those first 100 days I’ll have a chance to see the first performances on both our Dance Series and our Music Series.

What is something only a few people may know about you?

I was a college radio DJ, back in the day. At WDXU I loved to help our listeners discover my favorite bands and I settled into a late morning slot that was prime listener-request time. In the beginning those favorite bands were mostly indie rockers with jangly guitar hooks. It was the ’90s. We had a great member of our music staff who was a community member and made sure we were also listening to jazz and music of non-European cultures which we called “world music” at the time. My kids recently discovered my old radio tapes and a tape deck and had a great laugh listening to the sound of me on the radio.

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