Coffee Talk with Shannon McConville of Stavna Ballet
our neighbor, friend, and founder of Stavna Ballet - a non profit professional dance company here in Richmond, Virginia. Shannon and her team not only provide local artists an outlet to express themselves through the art of dance, they have created outreach programs that offer underserved communities the opportunity to bring dance into their lives.
- What has been your all-time favorite performance? I choreographed an original ballet based on the story of Snow White back in 2014. This performance will always be super close to my heart as it was the first full length ballet that I created. It feels so rewarding to take an idea and see it actually come to life on stage! I always wanted to dance professionally and after I retired from the San Diego Ballet, I never really thought my dream of creating one of my own ballets would come true. Hard work pays off and Snow White will always be one of my all-time favorite accomplishments.
- Where do you find inspiration? I think it is important to support other local artists and I find inspiration all around me. I love RVA and enjoy the thriving art scene that continues to flourish in our community. I love collaborating with local musicians, artists and other dancers to create. I find my inspiration in music, exploring an art and by spending time in nature.
- What does the perfect Saturday look like to you? A perfect Saturday would be brunch with my family, shopping in Carytown, then checking out a museum or performance.
- After a performance, what's the one thing you love doing? After a performance I love to be surrounded by the cast and crew alongside my friends and family to celebrate the success! So many people work hard to make Stavna Ballet possible and it is fun to be able to congratulate them.
- Favorite dance party song: Lose Yourself! I know its crazy but I really love the inspirational message behind these lyrics and want to lose myself in the moment and to not miss the opportunities that life presents me with.
- Favorite dance movie: My favorite dance movie would have to be Center Stage, this was a classic movie that came out around when I was graduating high school and really showcased the highs and lows of a ballet academy.
- What advice would you share to your younger self? If I could give advice to my younger self it would be to spend more time with my family and to not take things for granted. You truly "don't know what you've got till it's gone". I decided that life is too short and I needed to fulfill my dreams of opening a dance studio. I realized that anything is possible with hard work, determination and having the courage to believe in the beauty of your dreams.
- What is the biggest challenge in starting and/or growing a business? Starting a business is challenging, especially as a woman, who also has a family. I love being a mom and find that making time for both aspects of my life can be hard. I'm blessed to have a family who supports my dreams and have had my back in taking this leap of faith.
- Your studio is unique in that you are run as a non-profit - how does that work? How can the local community support you? The Stavna Ballet company consists of professional ballet dancers from all over the country, its amazing they have moved to Richmond to be a part of Stavna. They are contracted to perform for 32 weeks of the year. Most recently, I founded the StavnaReach program to provide dance classes to underserved areas of richmond where kids may not ever have the opportunity to dance. Both of these programs are possible by the generosity of patrons in the community. We rely on donations from businesses, corporations and philanthropist to operate. You can visit our website to learn more about how you can get involved and partner with us!
- What are you most excited about in this new decade? This is only our second season with full paid contracted dancers, it is incredible how much we have already grown. The next decade is looking bright, we are looking forward to new partnerships, performances, outreach initiatives an collaborations