Studio Owners
Gina Gibney, at the newly restored expansion of 280 Broadway in lower Manhattan. Photo by Buck Ennis for Crain's NY Business, courtesy Gibney

Gina Gibney is CEO and artistic director of Gibney, a $6 million organization that occupies two locations of prime New York City real estate, with 52,000 square feet, 23 studios and five performance spaces. But when Gibney first founded her company of five dancers in 1991, it operated out of one studio. The story of how everything went wrong that could go wrong, and yet the organization rose to became one of the liveliest dance hubs in the city, is a fascinating example of judicious risk taking. When faced with the choice in 2010 to cut back and play it safe or to take a risk and grow, Gibney took a leap. She did that again in 2013 when she had the opportunity to take over the lease of 280 Broadway in lower Manhattan, now the main location for the Gibney organization.

In August, Gibney joined Dance Teacher editor at large Karen Hildebrand at the Unity 2020 Virtual Leadership Conference to discuss what it takes as a business leader to succeed—particularly in a year like 2020. Here are six takeaways from that event:

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Teachers Trending
Nigel Campbell and Chanel DaSilva. Photo by Rachel Papo

Nigel Campbell and Chanel DaSilva can't remember a time when they didn't have each other's backs. Ever since age 10, when DaSilva stood up to dance-studio bullies in Campbell's defense, their friendship has been one of mutual support, honest feedback and unending inspiration. Together, they thrived at LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and the Performing Arts, became Presidential Scholars in the Arts (even writing their winning essays about each other), graduated from The Juilliard School and went on to vibrant performing careers—DaSilva with the Lar Lubovitch Dance Company and Trey McIntyre Project, Campbell with Gibney Company and in Europe.

One fateful day in 2013, "ChaNigel" (as the pair has been known since LaGuardia) had an epiphany. DaSilva recalls: "We were talking about our lives in the dance field and asked ourselves, 'How did we get here?'" The answer, they agreed, was the army of mentors—including each other—who'd encouraged and advised them all the way. Then, Campbell says, "we realized we'd each been the only Black person, or one of the only Black people, in the room for most of our careers. Where was everybody else?!"


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To Share With Students
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When your students graduate and move to the big city to pursue their dreams, they'll almost immediately discover that there's a void left where your studio once was. Not only will they miss your instruction and daily support, but they'll miss having a physical space to work through challenging movement, polish their technique and improv with no one watching. Help them with their adjustment period by telling them about the studio spaces they can rent out when they need some one-on-one time with the mirror and the music.

Here are five for you to share with them—you're welcome!

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