Get to Know Stanford Thompson

Learn more about Board Member Stanford Thompson, Founder and Executive Director of Play On Philly!

Stanford, welcome to BalletX! Tell us about yourself and your career! Where are you from? What and where did you study? Where did you start your career?
I grew up outside of Atlanta and was involved in the arts from an early age. Although I moved to Philadelphia to pursue a degree in trumpet performance from The Curtis Institute of Music, I took two years of dance in high school under a former Limón Dance Company artist, the late Pamala Jones-Malave. I credit her passion for dance and special gift as an educator for helping to shape the life I have today. After I completed my studies at Curtis, I enrolled in a fellowship program hosted by the New England Conservatory in Boston where I studied the social development and music education program of Venezuela called El Sistema. I returned to Philly immediately after and co-founded Play On Philly with philanthropist Carole Haas Gravagno eleven years ago.

Tell us more about Play On Philly: Why did you found the organization, and what is your mission?
While in college at Curtis, I quickly learned about the inequities in the city’s education system and the lack of arts education that I believe is the best tool we can use to help a young person succeed academically, socially, and personally. I wanted to build an alternative approach to arts education that mirrored my upbringing in music. As a result, Play On Philly provides over 300 students a tuition-free music education program each weekday after school and almost three dozen performance opportunities a year. We believe that an intensive and joyful experience will equip them with the skills our students need to be successful throughout life.

That’s wonderful! Moving onto BalletX, what makes you most excited about joining our Board of Directors?
I am looking forward to branching outside of my usual network of musicians and learning from those who are passionate about advancing one of the most forward-thinking dance companies in the United States. Philadelphia is lucky to have such a treasure in our city and I look forward to playing my part in helping BalletX reach its next goals.

We are so honored to have you here! Last question, tell us about your hobbies: What do you do for fun, outside of work?
I really enjoy cooking and making ice cream! I’m glad that my dancing days are over so I can indulge a bit, but being in the kitchen a lot since the pandemic started has given me time away from my work and the world. I also enjoy traveling, getting to know my seven nieces and nephews, and spending quality time with friends and loved ones.

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April 16, 2021