10 Years of Vance Garrett Productions.
In theatre they say that when you're too full of emotion to speak, you sing. And when you're too full to sing, you dance. So when I had my fill of being a music theatre gypsy and wanted to experience life beyond the footlights 10 years ago, I expressed myself by starting my own company for theatrical events. I had no idea then what a transformative and fulfilling experience it would be, and if I had to do it all over again, I wouldn't change a step.
The dream took shape around performance gigs with Spider-Man Live! and Saturday Night Fever when I became acquainted with bartending, and by proxy, New York nightlife. From my vantage point, the club scene looked a whole lot like theatre, but everyone was dancing and everyone was a character. It was electric. So what if you could integrate the craft of the stage with the excitement of nightlife?
I was inspired and wanted to be a part of a movement that made not just the stage dance but rather the whole venue.-Vance Garrett
So I worked my way up the club ladder, from mixologist to consultant to director of large-scale nightlife projects, like Love Ball and Black Party. These early projects in that fast-paced ever-shifting scene were exhilarating, and I knew it was time to step out of the chorus line, break the fourth wall, and venture out into this unscripted realm. Vance Garrett Productions was born, and I began my exploration of events as theatre.
The eponymous name of the company was a double-edged sword. It made sense from the performer's POV, but it also held me accountable for every element. And I knew it was going to require some fancy dance moves if it was to be larger than myself and allow room for others to be a part of the work. But what's in a name? I told myself it could be whatever I wanted. Regardless, no matter what came of or out of it, I knew I would forever hold myself responsible. So I committed myself to always being a participant somehow in everything it would do. This became the philosophy of the company, to make worlds in which the audience and performers alike were all players integrated into a larger story. Everyone was complicit in the outcome. No hiding behind curtains.
I quickly learned I wasn't alone. There was a whole community of young creatives from around the world blurring forms to reawaken the live experience-film screenings, dining, sports, concerts, circuses, and beyond. I found these colleagues to be my new cast mates in choreography that extended far beyond the boundaries of a proscenium stage. With every project that welcomed me as a team member, I would work with others who shared this quest to more richly integrate the audience into the happenings. Like a swing, I played a diverse array of roles in productions-as an assistant director, company manager, scenarist, entertainment director, director, choreographer, supervising producer, co-producer, and producer-on a wonderful slate of projects with incredible teachers. I directed Black Party at Roseland for the Saint, was Entertainment Director of Fire Island Pines, served as the Supervising Producer for the launch of Sleep No More, and curated talent for the Shinnyo Lantern Floating for Peace at Lincoln Center.
These projects became my own ad hoc grad school in collective joy and theatrical events, studying with true masters.-Vance Garrett
As Vance Garrett Productions hits 10 years, I have now put over 10,000 hours into theatrical events and productions-the amount of time Balanchine and others deem it takes to master a craft. My class and cast mates have made dreams come true. I've been able to work alongside some of the world's most exciting companies and talents: Punchdrunk, the Old Vic, Kevin Spacey, Refinery29, Future Cinema, LDJ, Misty Copeland, the High Line, the Lowline…and others. From personal experience, I can assure that this evolution of the live event is just as fulfilling as life in the spotlight. Shared experiences are always more fun. So I hope you'll join us in this new era, in the age of immersion, as we tackle new challenges and conquer distractions by integrating trusted storytelling techniques, stagecraft, and truths with new technologies and narratives to discover unexpected wonders. I'm looking forward to writing this next chapter of experience together, in step, breaking new boundaries.