Today we’d like to introduce you to Ivonne Batanero.
So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
In 2009, I graduated from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts and returned back home to Miami soon after graduation. When I came back, I realized that there was a lack of support, community, and training in Miami. So many talented Miami dancers would leave Miami in search for opportunities to pursue their career in other states.
I was fortunate enough to be one of the few who stayed in Miami and was able to pursue a career in dance. I started dancing for Rosie Herrera Dance Theater in 2010 and was commissioned by Miami Light Project for their annual Here & Now Emerging choreographers showcase in 2012 and 2013. Life as a dancer in Miami has been rough, there is a serious lack of community, training, and opportunity. Options are limited and there are very little choreographic opportunities. I continually told myself that if my generation is not part of the solution, then the solution would never come for us. I wanted three issues solved: I wanted to further my dance training; I wanted more performance opportunities and more choreography opportunities. I contemplated ideas and hopes for years until I took a leap of faith and programed my first dance intensive in 2017.
I named my organization Greedy Pumpkin Head Projects whose mission is to provide affordable opportunities for professional development and dance training that are otherwise unavailable in this community. The training we offer would normally only be accessible to Miami-based artists if they traveled to New York, Los Angeles or Europe. We aim to inspire professional dancers and other artists to become interested in Miami as a place to create, train, learn and be inspired.
Although there were several speed bumps on the road and a bit of a learning curve, I had a wonderful turn out last year and the feedback that I received was humbling. I am inspired to continue on this new venture to hopefully cultivate a community where dancers can call this home.
This year, I am working on two different weeks of programing. The first is the Miami Medley: July 30 – Aug 4, which is a week of a variety of different classes and workshops taught by Miami’s dance companies, independent choreographers, technique teachers and wellness practitioners. The idea behind the Miami Medley is to promote cross-pollination within the dance community, help new dancers in town gain some footing and get a sense of who is doing what in the community. There will also be a free opportunity to showcase work the last day of the Miami Medley for any attendee.
The second is a Countertechnique intensive: August 21-26. This is a technique that is slowly becoming very popular in the United States. It changed my whole out look on movement and I had the pleasure of traveling to Australia last summer to study this technique in depth and I want to expose Miami to it because it changed my life. I am bringing Nina Wollny who is the only master teacher of this technique so it is a very rare opportunity to have her be in the United Sates teaching let alone Miami.
I am very excited for this summer and hope that every year together can build a stronger community.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Running an organization single handedly has been a struggle. I have had to learn several aspects of the job that have required lots of research and self-teaching. Time management between dancing for two different dance companies (Adele Myers and Dancers, Rosie Herrera Dance Theater), my own choreographic endeavors, working towards my Polestar Pilates certification, searching for funding to support the programs for Greedy Pumpkin Head Projects as well as finding time for my family has been a struggle.
I am also working with a community that doesn’t have the funds to pay for training because of the lack of jobs/opportunities available to dancers and not to mention the expensive city we live in. Also, figuring out how to create affordable programs where scholarships and work-study opportunities are available.
My biggest challenge this year was finding an Immigration lawyer that would help me with a work visa for Nina Wollny who is the international teacher who will be teaching Coutertechnique. So many immigration lawyers are so busy with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) that it took me a year to find a lawyer that agreed to help me at a discount. Once I began the petition to bring Nina to Miami the process involved was tremendous.
Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Greedy Pumpkin Head Projects – what should we know?
I am the Artistic and Executive Director for Greedy Pumpkinhead Projects. I am the visionary and producer. I am the one of the few organization working towards opportunities for the dance community of Miami to attain professional development and dance training that is otherwise unavailable in this community and the only offering professional dance training. The training I am offering would normally only be accessible to Miami-based artists if they traveled to New York, Los Angeles or Europe.
I am proud to be inspiring professional dancers and other artists to become interested in Miami as a place to create, train, learn and be inspired. I am very content with the quality of programming that I am able to offer the community.
Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
I spent five great years working at the Box Office and Membership Development personnel at Miami Light Project and worked very closely to Beth Boone the Artistic and Executive Director. I learned so much from her throughout the years and she gave me the confidence I needed to create my own programming for the arts. She is a big supporter of my work and I could not be doing this without her and the support of the Miami Light Project.
Miami Theater Center for supporting the vision behind GPHP.
My good friend Rebekah Rebekah Lanae Lengel/Director of Artistic Programs at the National YoungArts Foundation has read countless grant proposals through out the years and has been a big support in my learning and success.
Maya Ibas, my Immigration attorney for all the long hours she put in to make it possible for Nina Wollny to attain a work Visa for coming to Miami.
Last but not least, my partner Randic Morillo and my son Osiris Morillo, who although has to manage with my busy schedule, they believe in what I am doing and make it possible for me to continue.
- Miami Medley is only $35.00 for unlimited classes for the week.
- Countertechnique with Nina Wollny is $360.00 for the week.
- Website: www.greedypumpkinheadprojects.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/greedypumpkinhead/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ivonnadance/