TIVOLI — Kevin McKenzie, co-founder and cChair of the board of trustees and Sonja Kostich, executive director of Kaatsbaan | Cultural Park for Dance announced that Stella Abrera will join the organization as its new artistic director, effective Jan. 1, 2020. Joining Kostich at the prominent 30-year-old Hudson Valley dance organization, Abrera’s appointment will expand the portfolio of Kaatsbaan as the second step in its strategic plan. With distinct histories in dance, Abrera and Kostich will unite their efforts to champion the development of varied programs and cultural offerings. Partnering and reporting to an influential board of trustees, the artistic and executive directors will spearhead major initiatives to contribute to both the national and international dance communities, as well as the Hudson Valley arts landscape, cultivating relationships with a variety of external stakeholders and community partners.
Kostich, who assumed the role of Executive Director in December 2018, will continue overseeing the organization’s management, operations, and long-term strategy to realize Kaatsbaan’s redevelopment and drive the organization to its next level of growth and service to the community.
Abrera’s role will actively be associated with connecting artists to Kaatsbaan and its unique resources, and to support their creative growth and the development of their projects. This will include teaching and coaching dancers via her role as artistic director of Kaatsbaan’s ballet intensives and Pro-Studio program. Abrera has decades of experience in the dance community both as a respected principal dancer with American Ballet Theatre and as an influential spokesperson for a diverse and global community of artists.
Kostich says, “Stella is an extraordinary figure in the cultural world and an inspiring advocate for Kaatsbaan, both as a female Filipino-American leader and as an artist, and I’m elated to welcome her as my new partner at Kaatsbaan. As Kaatsbaan continues to grow and fulfill its mission to be the cultural park for dance and a cultural destination in the Hudson Valley — the home for dance and related arts — Stella will play a crucial part in the success and prosperity of those efforts.”
“Dancing at American Ballet Theatre for 24 years has been a realization of a dream, and now I’m inspired to impact the art form from the other side of the proscenium, as Kaatsbaan’s Artistic Director. I’m honored by this appointment, and I’m excited to partner with Executive Director Sonja Kostich, that rare individual who has reached the peak of achievement as both an artist and businessperson. Together, we’ll endeavor to connect a broader community to this beautiful cultural sanctuary, and to help Kaatsbaan realize its potential as a major artistic presence in the Northeast, and beyond,” says Abrera.
“The Board of Trustees is thrilled to welcome Stella Abrera to our Kaatsbaan family as our new Artistic Director of Kaatsbaan,” shared Board Chair, Kevin McKenzie. “Stella brings the professional experience and enthusiasm perfectly suited to this role as our organization moves forward in our five-year strategic plan, and will make an ideal counterpart to our Executive Director, Sonja Kostich. In short, we have a dynamic new leadership team combining Abrera’s vast artistic experience paired with Kostich’s diverse background in both dance and business/finance.
As of January 2020 Gregory Cary, co-founder of Kaatsbaan will step down from his position as artistic director to assist this next generation of leaders in the realization of Kaatsbaan’s 5-year plan, moving away from daily operations and into the role of senior advisor of capital projects.
Martine van Hamel, co-founder of Kaatsbaan will take on the role of Principal Ballet Teacher for Kaatsbaan’s ballet and special weekend intensives.
Bentley Roton, co-founder of Kaatsbaan retired from daily operations in 2019.