Getting to know Matt Carney: New Executive Director of SDDT

We’re excited to announce that Matt Carney, a five-year member of San Diego Dance Theater, will step into the management role of Executive Director on December 1st. The SDDT Board of Trustees is glad to have Matt in this very important position that allows Jean to continue her role as Artistic Director for SDDT. We know Matt has a lot to offer in this new role. We’ve asked him a few questions about his background and what he hopes to achieve. 

Tell us a little bit about your background in Dance.MattCarney_byJoshuaCamp
A native of St. Louis, I began dancing professionally with the Modern American Dance Company, and later with the Wylliams-Henry Contemporary Dance Company based in Kansas City. Since moving to San Diego in 2008, I hit the ground running, working concurrently as an artist and non-profit administrator. On the stage and in the studio, I’ve been performing locally with San Diego Ballet and (of course) San Diego Dance Theater, am on faculty in the dance conservatory at Coronado School for the Arts. In the office and behind a desk, I’ve served as Educational Programs Manager and Volunteer Coordinator with Hostelling International USA, San Diego providing Arts and Culture educational programming to youth in the San Diego Area and Tijuana. I most recently served as Operations Manager for San Diego Dance Theater.

How long have you been involved with SDDT? What drew you to the Company?
This is my 5th season dancing and working with SDDT. I still remember my first class with Jean. I had been dancing in the city for about a year already but hadn’t taken Jean’s class yet. It was the first time I felt at home in San Diego. Her concepts and movement style fit well with my training in both modern and ballet and her sense of flow and dynamics pushed me to break the boundaries of what I thought dance was.

Trystan and Matt_There2014_MannyRotenbergWhat have been some of your SDDT favorite shows?
Honestly, it’s the whole gamut of SDDT programming that keeps me interested. The annual “Trolley Dances” never gets old with different choreographers in new featured locations every year. The January show is always a diverse program of concert dance. And the Live Arts Fest in the White Box at NTC/Liberty Station offers a little of something for everyone. And last but not least, our inter-generational school and summer intensive programs provide a home for a community of artists ranging from students to professionals to those that are “Aging Creatively.”

Will you still dance with the Company?
My final show with San Diego Dance Theater was November 2014 in order to focus on my executive responsibilities. It is bitter sweet, but I’m also looking forward to the opportunity to serve the community my new role.

How have you prepared professionally to take on this new role?
I’ve always been a go-getter. Having put myself through both undergraduate and graduate school, I’ve been fully employed in the non-profit, hospitality, and event management industries for 15 years with a foot on the stage the whole time. After the 2008 recession, my career goals changed. The global financial crisis pushed me to view the sustainability of dance from a systemic perspective. For me, the creation of new works of art was not enough to do what was needed to preserve this art form for future generations. I’m most interested in bridging what was handed down from the previous generation and carrying the evolution to the next. Now, my skills in inspiring teamwork, creating a inclusive community, fostering partnerships, and breaking down communication barriers will best be utilized as the Executive Director. And, I’m humbled and stoked for the opportunity!

rhap5d2.2.0790.1What is your area of responsibility vs. Jean’s?
Simply put, I’ll be the chief executive administrator and Jean will handle all things artistic. Without having to worry about the executive arm of the company, Jean will head into a beautiful Renaissance and be positioned to create some of her best work. Ms. Isaacs is without a doubt a key pioneer in modern dance in Southern California and beyond as both a teacher and choreographer. It will be my pleasure to steward her vision for the company now and how she envisions it in the future.

Do you have specific long term/short term goals for managing the Company?
We have an amazing team, so first up will be to make sure everyone is doing what they want to be doing. I would like everyone that steps foot in the office to clearly understand their role and see how it fits into their own long term career goals. My long term goals will be guided by our mission and include maintaining the fiscally responsible company while also serving as an ambassador to the greater community to make sure access to our programming is available to a diverse audience.

We can’t wait to see what all Matt will bring to the table. We know he will help SDDT grow! We’d like to thank the Parker Foundation for their generous grant to help fund this transition at San Diego Dance Theater.

Photos: Top by Joshua Camp. Middle and Bottom by Manny Rotenberg.
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