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Straight from the Heart: Mindi Mende and the East Coast Ballet

By Lance Trebesch February 13, 2013

Classical Dance Looks to the Future 

Mindi Mende is the consummate dancer. Classically trained from early childhood by a dance-loving mother, she views her decades-long dancing career with an unmitigated joy and love for her art. When asked about her favorite part of performance, she answers, “rehearsals, training, and the performances.” In other words, she loves it all: the hard work is her bliss.

The Potential of Dance

Mende is the founding Artistic Director of the East Coast Ballet Company and President of the East Cost Ballet School, and she approaches her work with an open heart, consumed with all things dance. She has not only studied dance under a variety of acclaimed instructors and toured the world, sharing her love of dancing, she has also made advances in dance-related technologies, holding patents on a jazz shoe and a dancing tight.

Along with her love of teaching, she expresses her beliefs in the power of dance and dance education. “All children should be exposed to dance in some form or another,” she explains, “realizing its great potential to bring joy to the heart and soul of a body.” Dance, she states, “is a communication device,” allowing choreographers and performers to express their hearts to an audience. She summarizes the message East Coast Ballet seeks to share with its dance choreography as “one of hope, love, and abundant life.” For fifteen years, her company has succeeded in doing just this.

Selling the Experience

Mende employs a mix of traditional and modern methods to encourage the audience to discover her message for themselves. Currently, they distribute posters and flyers in the community to share information about upcoming performances. They have also found radio airtime to be an effective method of advertisement for them. In addition, the company uses its website to spread news about upcoming performances and keeps in touch with its fans on Facebook.

Given a greater budget, Mende would look into ways to achieve greater exposure. She thinks big, imagining the power of billboard or television advertisement. Given the choice, she would expand her season as well, ensuring live music to accompany each performance. Currently, she appreciates a roster of donors and corporate sponsors, most of whom “have a passion to see the performing fine arts used in a positive uplifting family friendly entertainment and ministry use.” She thanks them with highlights in the company’s event programs, posters, and advertising campaign.

The Virtual, Digital Box Office

For the time being, Mende has found a low-cost way to expand her reach: selling tickets online through Ticket River’s virtual box office. Virtual ticket sales allow her to spend more time on the art end of her business and less on the business end, so her work can continue to focus on what she loves. “Ticket River freed up my time to focus on the performances rather than sales,” she points out, saying, “It was a blessing to direct people to the website to purchase.”

Ticket River’s options allowed Mende to continue offering the same type of reserved seating as she would in a traditional staffed box office. She found that her audience “enjoyed choosing their seating” and that her company’s success was increased through the user-friendly simplicity of this service. “I believe we received more sales because of the ease of the online purchasing and choosing,” she says.

As East Coast Ballet continues to expand into the future, Mende remains optimistic about its prospects. “I believe dance will never die,” she explains, “because of its nature to challenge, express, and communicate.”