New View

By In Dance

December 1, 2011, PUBLISHED BY IN DANCE

With fresh faces popping up constantly, the local Bay Area dance community is a unique blend of seasoned and new perspectives. In Dance caught the new view from the new LINES Ballet executive director, Janette Gitler.

What brought you to the Bay Area?
I fell in love with the Bay Area when I visited during the summer of 1970. I decided then that this was the place I wanted to live. I thought it was spectacularly beautiful, politically and culturally progressive, and the temperature was never 60 degrees below zero!

Where were you born?
St. Paul, Minnesota, Land of 10,000 Lakes–where the temperature does get to 60 degrees below zero with the wind chill, and mosquitoes are big enough and plentiful enough they could be declared the state bird.

The Bay Area is…?
The perfect place for me.

What’s your neighborhood? Stomping ground?
When I’m not at 7th and Market, I would have to say Hayes Valley.

What’s your gig?
Executive Director of Alonzo King LINES Ballet.

What’s your most embarrassing SF moment?
When I walked off stage after receiving a regional Emmy award [for work on the documentary San Francisco Symphony at 100] and walked back on (after they had moved on to the next category) because I had forgotten to thank my husband who had done the lion’s share of the care-taking of our 3-year-old twins and 6-year-old son while I was working on the documentary.

What’s your favorite food?
All Asian food.

What event(s) will we find you at this season?
Jim Campbell at SFMOMA (his installation uses images of LINES’ dancers), SF Symphony 100th Anniversary, City Arts and Lectures, but I will miss my Aunt Ruth’s openings at the Braunstein/Quay Gallery now that it has closed after 50 years! I’ll be at the after-Christmas sales too…

What’s your favorite Bay Area institution?
LINES Ballet celebrates its 30th anniversary next year…it’s my favorite Bay Area institution.

First dance memory?
Sitting on the stairs watching my parents take dance lessons in the basement of our home with a group of their friends and an instructor. Then learning and dancing the cha-cha with my dad; my parents loved to dance, and they were good.

Dance idol?
What can I say, I adore Alonzo King.

Guilty dance pleasure?
Dancing to Motown hits.

Money’s no object, what’s the next place you’ll visit?
Either taking my whole family traveling through Africa or visiting my daughter who lives in Brazil.

What’s heaven to you?
Hanging out with family and/or good friends. Escaping in one of two ways: traveling to and exploring countries and cultures to which I have not yet been or watching a great film with my husband, popcorn and a diet coke.

What’s hell to you?
Dental work. The current political/economic situation–I’m not convinced that humans are as evolved as we think we are…we seem to be on self-destruct.

What’s the scariest experience you’ve ever had?
Skydiving out of a plane from 15,000 feet above earth. Yikes!

What’s the most meaningful experience of your life?
(Aside from having 3 kids) Donating one of my kidneys last year to a woman whose own kidneys were failing fast.

Janette Gitler brings over 25 years of experience in senior leadership and management, organizational development, strategic planning, and fundraising to Alonzo King LINES Ballet. She most recently served as an independent nonprofit consultant and producer, working with nonprofit organizations on strategic planning, production, program development, communications, and fundraising. Her clients included the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, Angel Island Association, the San Francisco Free Clinic, and the San Francisco Symphony, where she helped create and executive produce the pilot project of the acclaimed Keeping Score series. In her capacity as a consultant she also served as the Interim Executive Director at 142 Throckmorton Theatre and as Interim Chief Operating Officer at ArtWorks for Change and at the Marine Mammal Center.

This article appeared in the December 2011 issue of In Dance.

In Dance is a publication of Dancers' Group.