Revelations About Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s Patron Relations

// without permissionI’d like to share my first-hand experience with excellent patron relations during Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (AADT)’s performance in Seattle on March 29, 2008**.

The very first part of the show, before any dancing, was a 12-minute promotional documentary titled “Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater at 50 – a Golden Anniversary Celebration.” I mentioned this same video in my earlier post “What Would You Include in a U.S. Culture Night?” You can view it on AAADT’s Web site here.

I experienced the other major patron relations element during the first of two intermissions. In my program, I saw that “Flowers” (1971) was the next dance. Under its description in the program was a note:

“AileyConnect: 212-514-0010 (Free Call*)
To learn more about Flowers simply press 8#.
*Free service. Cell phone minutes apply.”

So of course I called this, and I suggest you do the same. I listened to a short introduction on AileyConnect in general, and after pressing 8#, I listened to three dancers including the current star of “Flowers” speak about their interpretations of and experiences with the ballet. At the end of the narratives, the recording offered me a special text message if I pressed “*.” I did, and received the message, “FUN FACTS did you know? When first choreographed, Revelations was performed with only six dancers.” I proceeded to relay my summary of the information I heard to my mother as soon as she took her seat again, which prompted a short discussion.

Following are marketing and public relations theories AAADT applied to patron relations at this show:

Video – Dance is a moving medium, and AAADT’s choreography is bite-friendly. Additionally, many of the company’s artistic leaders are animated and charismatic, making them good spokespeople.

Using education as a way to develop and retain audiences – This is the first time I’ve heard recorded audio explanations of art anywhere but a museum.

Exclusivity – I assume that most, if not all people who use AileyConnect are patrons who see it in a program, though anyone could dial the number if they knew it. I had to search the AAADT Web site to find it here.

Peer ambassadors – My mother and I already had a high opinion of AAADT before that show, considering that we paid about $50 per ticket, but I later relayed information from both the video and AileyConnect to my friends in family in my own words.

The Place in PPPP of marketing – We were a captive audience of both the video and AileyConnect. What else was I supposed to do during the first of two intermissions?

After I got home that night, I changed my Facebook “About me” section, which had been empty for months, to, “ I want to join the marketing team for the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater some day.” 

**It would be border-line unethical for me not to add the following disclaimer: I interned for Seattle Theatre Group, the presenter of this performance, this past summer. One of my main duties as a marketing intern was to I enter this show along with the other 51 shows in our season into about 30 Web calendars.

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One Comment on “Revelations About Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s Patron Relations”

  1. Beth,

    It’s great to hear about Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s innovative use of technology. Thanks for sharing this story and your analysis.


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