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Case Study:  Face The Music & Dance

The Client: Innovative life science company

The Event: Annual leadership forum, Cambridge, MA

The Participants: Top 140 leaders in the company

The Message: We need to innovate and do things differently

The Plan: The forum learning groups will each become a dance troop and perform a dance in one of six genres; Face The Music provides dance coaches, music, and coordination

The Outcome: Leaders stretched way out of their comfort zone and enthusiastically created dances that inspired and entertained their colleagues.  The VP and event producers declared the dance event an overwhelming success.  Just what the doctor ordered.  The vision was executed, and the people left with memories, learning, and connections of their four days in Cambridge.

Face The Music got a call from a former client that had done our songwriting interactive program to rave reviews from the participants.  Now the VP of Communications at recently re-formed life science company, she said, “We have an idea that we think you could help us with.”  The idea?  To work with their top 150 leaders to create dance routines to perform in a competition at their leadership offsite. 

The dance idea was to challenge the leaders to operate in different modalities, get comfortable with being uncomfortable, and learn about how they work together by creating, practicing, and performing a dance with their designated team.

The opening creation and rehearsal session with the participants was almost the first thing on the agenda after the welcoming and opening remarks of the first session of the meeting.  They huddled in their teams all around the ballroom floor as the session was kicked off with a suitably chaotic first-come-first-served process where the groups selected the dance genres they wanted to work with.  Everyone went off to their breakout rooms to get started.

In the rooms it was clear that for some, the objective of getting outside their comfort zones was already being met.  That being said, the participants threw themselves into the process from the few talented ones that had some dance chops to the research engineers that spent some time attempting to locate their feet.  There was enthusiasm for the creative piece as well as a “let’s win this thing” competitive flair.  After all this was part of a larger competition over the course of the four days where one group would take home the gold.

It was great to see the progress being made by the second rehearsal session two days later.  We had made videos of the choreography for the groups to work with in between rehearsals, and the routines were coming together.  Energy went up when they broke out the costumes—everything from Broadway top hats and bow ties, to grass skirts, Mardi Gras bling, and a modern dance group that had these sort of stretchy bags that they were going to dance inside of.  One group got decked out in the stuff from the conference swag bag they received at registration—company windbreakers, backpacks, and knit hats.  Walking the halls of the hotel, there were groups dancing in the halls and music coming out of every direction from the rehearsal rooms.

This all built up to the performances on the final morning.  There was excitement in the air, chaos in the halls, and costumes lined up on tables outside the ballroom.  After the first morning session, it was showtime!  150 people were gathering back to their seats to prepare to deliver their dance—and see what their colleagues had come up with. 

When everyone was seated, the room went dark, and the MC announced the first group to a rousing cheer from the crowd.  Each group had a short “the making of the dance” video intro, with rehearsal footage and interviews with the dances and their coaches.  Then the music started.  The audience was fervent, clapping with the music, and cheering for the moves.  Certainly, there were various levels of dance proficiency displayed, but the energy and fun was in high gear.  The surprise of the grass skirts, the mystery of the stretchy bags, hip hop humans in hoodies, the salsa and Broadway groups kicking it out.  The work they had put in was evident, and the appreciation of their peers, who had also put in the work and knew what it took, was sincere, heartfelt and enthusiastic.

When the whole meeting ended shortly after the performance segment, the champagne was out, and the VP and event producers declared the dance event an overwhelming success.  Just what the doctor ordered.  The vision was executed, and the people left with memories, learning, and connections of their four days in Cambridge.