From Camper to Camp Director: Artistic Director Kristin Alexander’s Summers at Camp Ballibay

Started in 1964, Camp Ballibay for the Fine and Performing Arts has been a safe and inclusive environment for children to explore their passions in visual art, theatre, dance, and music for over fifty years. Situated high on a mountaintop in Camptown, Pennsylvania, Ballibay is a haven of lush greenery and sprawling woods. It has also been a second home for Artistic Director Kristin Alexander since 1988. 

Alexander as a Ballibay camper circa 1988.

Beginning as a camper and now acting as managing director, Alexander is in her twenty-eighth summer at Ballibay. She remembers her “very first summer at Ballibay, most specifically [her] ballet teacher from Spain. Not only did [Alexander] learn a lot from this teacher in technique class, but their conversations stayed with [her] as she furthered her dance education.” Memories from her time as a camper often resurface when she returns to camp each summer. Her summers at Ballibay were important to her artistic and personal development, and she feels fortunate as a camp director to be providing the same opportunities for the next generation of artists. 

Alexander in Ballibay’s production of ‘Company’ circa 1992.

Valuing the approach to arts education of Camp Ballibay’s founders Dottie and Jerry Jannone, Alexander carries what she experienced at Ballibay not only into the classroom, but also into her creative process with Annex Dance Company. “’It’s the journey, not the product’ is at the core of the camp philosophy, and not only is this philosophy at the forefront of [her] decision making throughout the summer, it has become an integral part of [her] artistic and educator self throughout the year.”

Sharing the stage with campers during the 2017 Annex Dance Company residency.

Working with the Jannone family as a camp administrator for many years, Alexander was invited by John Jannone to co-direct the camp a little over ten years ago. Longtime friends and artistic collaborators, Alexander and Jannone have continued to collaborate on projects every summer.   In the summer of 2017, they envisioned a new work for the 2017-2018 Annex Dance Company season. Origin premiered at the 2018 Piccolo Spoleto Festival and was performed twice in the spring of 2019, including its New York premiere at the Center for Performance Research. 

Since the premiere season of Annex Dance Company, the company spends part of its summer in-residence during the Ballibay Dance Intensive; a place where pieces have been started, workshopped, and shared with young dancers before they are incorporated into the Annex Dance Company repertoire. Alexander is “looking forward to the planned projects and new pieces that will be created in Camp Ballibay’s beautiful, artistic setting and presented to audiences in the upcoming season!”

Captured on the Ballibay hillside July 2019.
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