Julie-anne Saroyan is on a mission to change the way we engage with dance. It’s been more than a decade since she channeled her artistic passion into the founding of Small Stage, a dance company that puts developing artists on display for emerging audiences. At its heart, Julie-anne says Small Stage is, “about bringing it down to the people…everybody can enjoy dance. All kinds of dance.” While Julie-anne’s dedication to dance is innate, viewing herself in an executive role is part of a longer story. Thanks to a bursary from the City of Vancouver, Julie-anne had the opportunity to attend Vantage Point’s Executive Lab, where her advancement as a leader began a new evolution.
One of the most valuable skills to develop during Julie-anne’s time in Executive Lab is her ability to coach those around her. “Practically every day I feel like I’m a collaborator with my stake-holders,” notes Julie-anne, “which includes artists, audiences, funders, venues…I always feel like I’m in this collaborative place, but that I’m able to lead people in a much more effective way. That was something that I really learned at Vantage Point, that coaching element.”
Along with Julie-anne’s personal growth, the experience at Executive Lab has had tangible results for Small Stage in the form of board development. “I got a whole new board,” Julie-anne says, “they’re experts at just about everything…once I started applying the skills, reaching outside of my own community, thinking outside of the box, all of these people have come out of the woodwork.” In addition to her dynamic new board, Julie-anne has found a support system in her Executive Lab colleagues. When faced with a recent operations challenge, Julie-anne says she felt confident in being armed with the ability to draw on others. “I feel like I’m on a new path with peers that have really changed my perspective on things. There was a camaraderie within the group…it’s pretty incredible to be able to call somebody else when you don’t know the answer.”
With all of the skills developed in Executive Lab, Julie-anne continues to take on new challenges. She has stepped into the General Manager position for Vancouver’s Turning Point Ensemble, and says her experience with Vantage Point has allowed her, “to assess the organization in a way that I never would have been able to before.” When speaking about her work, Julie-anne radiates pride and confidence, “I’m getting to be an amazing artistic coach…but I know there’s a big other journey ahead of me. I’m getting a lot of practice. I’ve got a lot of tools in my toolbox thanks to Vantage Point.” As she continues to grow in multiple leadership roles, Julie-anne is confident in herself and the new ways her Executive Lab skills will continue to reveal themselves.