Dance Class: The Joffrey Ballet’s new executive director keeps things 'En Pointe'

September 1, 2013
Chicago Social
Brian Dukerschein

Content

Greg Cameron knows a thing or two about leadership. Already a veteran of WTTW, the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Art Institute of Chicago and the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs, in July he stepped up to the barre as executive director of the Joffrey. We met up with Cameron at Joffrey Tower to talk about his new role—and a little fashion.
 
On settling into his new position:
These first few weeks have basically been a listening tour for me, finding out what’s happened and what hasn’t happened. It’s been really energizing getting to know the dancers and hearing their stories. Stories are what make us human. They’re what connect us.
 
On how he defines his job description:
Any good executive director of an arts organization realizes that they’re there in service to that organization’s mission. Ashley [Wheater, Joffrey’s artistic director] is building an impeccable artistic team, and we need to ensure that the administrative side has the tools they need to do their jobs.
 
On being a leader in a creative field:
When you work in the arts, it’s not a job—it’s a lifestyle. It’s being a little bit of a politician, a bit of a preacher, a bit of a teacher and a bit of a parent. You use all of these different aspects of who you are.
 
On his plans for the Joffrey’s future:
Ashley and I are sitting down and strategizing about the Joffrey’s 20th anniversary in Chicago, which will be in 2015, and the 60th anniversary of the Joffrey as a company in 2016. I think there are lots of opportunities to commission new works, and it’s a dream of mine to be a part of the Olympic Arts Festival in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro.
 
On reading the fine print:
I have an iPhone, but I’m still a print guy. The sound of the delivery person dropping off the Sun-Times, Tribune, Wall Street Journal and The New York Times outside our condo is often my alarm clock.
 
On his approach to dressing for a gala:
You will never see me in traditional, straight-up black tie. I’ve been to way too many events where people have handed me an empty glass thinking I’m a waiter. The artist Nick Cave has made me many creative and fun outfits, so I mix and match the black-tie look. I guess I tend to be subtle, but there’s something there for the person who’s looking carefully to notice.