New York City Ballet corps member Jenelle Manzi baking in her apartment

Courtesy Jenelle Manzi

NYCB Dancer Jenelle Manzi Has Launched Her Own Snack Bar Company

New York City Ballet corps member Jenelle Manzi has played around with gluten-free home baking for years, and she even has a popular food blog. But two years ago, after her colleague Sara Adams suggested she start selling the tasty snacks she often baked for her fellow NYCB dancers, Manzi took the plunge and signed her LLC, Get Golden. Now, thanks to the COVID-19 shutdown, extra time offstage has allowed her to expedite her company's launch timeline. On August 27, Get Golden introduced its first snack bar, Savor, with direct-to-consumer website sales. Manzi has already had to place another purchase order, and a national fitness brand has reached out for samples.

Two women sit, one in profile and one with her back towards the camera, on a cluttered table and in front of a white borad.

Manzi and a Get Golden team member at the office

Courtesy Manzi

Manzi set out to create a brand and a bar that wouldn't be just for dancers. Gluten-free, dairy-free and vegan, Savor claims to provide lasting energy from the healthy fats in its nut-seed blend and anti-inflammatory properties from Manzi's signature turmeric-coconut-caramel butter. "I wanted something that was savory, salty, sweet at the same time," says Manzi. "No birdseed, no weird sugars," and crucially, she says, something that tastes homemade.

Influenced by mentors she had met once at an event for female food-entrepreneurs, Manzi evolved her plans from making the bars herself with an at-home kitchen license and selling them at farmers' markets to small-batch manufacturing in a facility in Los Angeles. Manzi used her own savings to sign the LLC and start testing commercial kitchen spaces in New York City. She then raised a round of capital from friends and family, which enabled her to work with a team of people (including a product manager, a UX web developer, a product photographer, a social media manager, a creative director, an investor relations specialist and a San Francisco–based strategy team) to get her product and brand to market in just two years.

A stack of four nutty snack bar squares in front of a yellow background

Get Golden's Savor bar

Courtesy Get Golden

In order to scale her home recipes, Manzi slightly tweaked the liquid-to-solid ratio, but allowed no additives to constitute the whole ingredients. From there, she researched everything about consumer-goods production, from die-lines (the shape and folding template for boxes) to what type of wrapper would best preserve the bars' high-fat content.

With the pandemic complicating in-person events, Manzi's Get Golden launch was fully digital—and targeted for our times, from the sunset-colored branding to the good-vibes messaging. "COVID has been shocking for everyone, so we wanted to make the unboxing experience similar to that of a care package," she says.

As for the post-pandemic future, Manzi plans to continue dancing at NYCB. Concurrently, she wants to continue growing Get Golden, branching into more categories than snack bars and creating a strong brand and a profitable company. "I think the only way to grow is to do it slow and smart," she says. "At the end of the day, that's what's important to me: that people enjoy the product and enjoy the brand."

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After 25 Years, Victoria Morgan to Step Down as Cincinnati Ballet's Artistic Director

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Prior to coming to Cincinnati Ballet in 1997, the Salt Lake City native was a principal dancer with San Francisco Ballet and Ballet West, as well as resident choreographer for the San Francisco Opera. She graduated magna cum laude from University of Utah, where she also earned her MFA, and has judged several international ballet competitions.

Entering her 25th and final season as director, Morgan has accomplished a lot at Cincinnati Ballet, not the least erasing the $800,000 in company debt she inherited at the outset of her tenure. To right the organization's financial ship she had to make tough choices early on—the first task the company's executive committee gave her was to release a third of the company's dancers. In her continuing effort to overhaul how the organization did business, in 2008 she became both the artistic director and CEO and set about building the company's now $14.5 million endowment. For the 2016–17 season, with the arrival of new company president and CEO Scott Altman, Morgan returned to being full-time artistic director and helped lead the realization of the organization's new $31 million home, the Margaret and Michael Valentine Center for Dance.

A champion of female choreographers, Morgan has also choreographed numerous ballets for the company, including world premieres of King Arthur's Camelot and The Nutcracker. She has also helped orchestrate several company collaborations, including 2013's Frampton and Cincinnati Ballet Live and joint productions with BalletMet.

Pointe caught up with Morgan to talk about her recent announcement.

Victoria Morgan is shown from the side standing on stage right, turning to smile at a line of costumed dancers to her left during bows. She wears a patterned green dress with chunky green high heels and holds a red rose in her hand.

Peter Mueller, Courtesy Cincinnati Ballet

Why leave Cincinnati Ballet now?

It's been an amazing run and I have seen it all. I am not sure where I would go from here. I also feel there is a required stimulus and infusion of new ideas and energy that always needs to be a part of a growing, evolving and exciting arts organization.

What made you happiest at Cincinnati Ballet?

The people, from the devotion of patrons and donors to learning from and feeling the pride in work from the staff. It has also been so satisfying for me to choreograph on and watch so many dancers evolve in their dance careers and lives.

Were there things you wanted to do for the company that you weren't able to?

There were other collaborations I wanted us to explore and choreographers I wanted us to work with. It takes quite an investment to make those happen.

Your legacy includes actively creating opportunities for female choreographers. What motivated that?

I started realizing, in a profound way, the gender inequities in our art form. Because I was in a leadership position, I thought I could do something about this and try to get to a 50-50 balance of male and female choreographers. It took a little time to find women to step forward, but it happened. Now there are many more prominent female choreographers, including our resident choreographer Jennifer Archibald, and I am proud of that.

If you could handpick your successor, what qualities would you look for?

Somebody creative, charged up, and who can be visionary. Someone who has had a high-level experience in our art form. A leader who is demanding but also kind and supportive, and who opens doors to find new ideas while still embracing Cincinnati Ballet's philosophies.

What do you feel will be one of the biggest challenges for the new artistic director?

The important cause of DEIA (diversity, equity, inclusion, accessibility). Whoever steps into that position has to have awareness of the culture of today's conversation.

Do you plan to keep choreographing?

I am not being proactive about it, but if the opportunity presents itself, it would be fun.

What's next?

I feel my next calling is bringing movement to the biggest segment of our population, baby boomers. I want to be part of an initiative that makes moving and wellness enjoyable and enlivens people.

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