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Dancing About Leadership

By Seth Kaufman

Dancing About Leadership

As the principal dancer for the celebrated Paul Taylor Theater Company, Michael Apuzzo led the modern dance company with the power, grace and emotion of his movements.

Since his final performance in March 2022, Apuzzo has helped guide the modern dance ensemble as its Development Specialist. At first blush, switching from center stage to the back office might seem to require different skill sets. But for Apuzzo, physical awareness and comportment are essential to good leadership.

I think that there's a couple of nonverbal communication skills that come into play for all industries and all hires,” Apuzzo told Vanguard founder Ken Banta during a form on Silence and Leadership.

“Our audition process, which Paul Taylor started, commences with walking—each dancer walks across the room. Paul always said, you can tell a lot by the way a person walks, and that is definitely true. You want to see shoulders over hips, but more importantly, energy out of the chest. There's a competence in it, a presence when you're walking. So the way you walk into any room, I think, sets the tone. And then of course, there's other things: gestures, posture and eye contact. These are all qualities that make our interaction in our human experience more viable. So the more nonverbal communication there is, the more you build a sense of trust and family. And that's what we have in the Paul Taylor company.”

Apuzzo, who graduated from Yale with a math degree before graduating to the biggest dance stages in the word, had lots more to say about effective communication and collaboration.

You can read the transcript of the conversation, listen to it on a Vanguard podcast, or watch the video.

These thoughts are taken from a dialogue conducted on Feb 2, 2022. Participants may have changed companies and/or titles since then.


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