Case Study

New York Choreographic Institute
An Affiliate of The New York City Ballet

Brand Strategy and Communications System

The Strategic Questions
How does a preeminent artistic institution that has shaped the leadership of ballet choreography for the last 20 years, reimagine the expression of its brand?
How can it assert its status as an historic pioneer with enormous influence while also embracing the next generation of performance?
H&S worked with the New York Choreographic Institute’s new director and his team to develop a brand strategy and communications system that captures the Institute’s leadership legacy as well as its role in the evolution of ballet and performance today.
H&S Role
Strategy, Research, Communications, Experience
  • Developed first-ever brand strategy for the 20-year-old Institute
  • Conducted an in-depth competitive review to inform strategy, narrative, and messaging
  • Crafted brand narrative and messaging by audience
  • Created voice and design principles and assets for implementation
  • Developed digital content approach for COVID closures, informing the Institute’s inaugural Virtual Commissions
  • Led workshops for internal and external stakeholders
“There is something deeper that we talk about when we talk about ballet and that’s a belief that ballet, as a comprehensive and cohesive language system, has the capacity to reflect our rapidly changing culture.

Institutionally, we are interested in engineering environments in which artists and audiences alike feel compelled to invest in ballet as a contemporary currency.”
—Adrian Danchig-Waring, Director

Leading the Evolution of Movement

Ballet as an artistic dance form and the choreographers that move the discipline forward are always evolving. The ongoing relevance of ballet as a contemporary currency requires both careful stewardship as well as physical and mental space for exploration, inspiration, collaboration, and creation. For more than two decades, the New York Choreographic Institute (NYCI) has focused on providing physical and artistic space for the next generation of talent -- the first effort of its kind for ballet in the U.S. The artists invited to its programs have gone on to provide leadership and vision at companies across the globe.

But as its innovative approach was increasingly imitated by other dance companies, it became critical for NYCI and its new director to clearly articulate the Institute’s unique approach, explicitly express the benefits of its program, and boldly state its unique point of view about the future and relevance of ballet as a contemporary art form.

The imperative for cultural institutions: claim and celebrate their historic cultural impact while also embodying a dynamic relationship to contemporary culture that embraces changing audiences and expectations.

Brand Strategy and Communications System: Verbal and Visual

H&S created a brand position and distinct, differentiated narrative that embodied the Institute’s history, point-of-view and the new director’s perspective. To underscore the Institute’s pioneering legacy, we identified images from the NYCI archives, including set designs, sketches, and choreographic sessions. We added images evocative of evolution and movement to acknowledge the changing nature of dance as an art form. We clarified the differentiated benefits of the program and developed targeted messaging across audiences, a social media strategy, and social icons for NYCI’s first digital content strategy during COVID.

Celebrating ballet and its changing nature visually
Acknowledging the seasons and reflecting milestone events
Extending the Institute’s reach virtually
Expressing NYCI’s brand, point of view and vision fully

Long-standing Client Partnership

  • Decade-long relationship with Jerome Robbins Foundation advising arts organizations in New York City
  • Regular keynote speakers at workshops for development and marketing professionals in the arts, focusing on audience, brand, marketing and distribution strategies