BY NANCY R. HILLER
Bloomington is full of artists who support themselves with jobs in unrelated fields: Everyone knows musicians who cut hair or painters who wait tables. But it’s rare for an artist to make her living by working full time for the same organization that provides a vehicle for her art.
Diane Buzzell is one of these fortunate people. Since 2012, Buzzell has worked as development director for Bloomington’s Cardinal Stage Company. “That’s my day job,” she notes. “But then there’s my night job. I just finished choreographing Les Misérables with Randy White, Cardinal’s artistic director. It was absolutely amazing to be a part of it.”
Buzzell, 49, has spent her career in dance and is one of our community’s most prolific choreographers. After graduating with a bachelor’s of fine arts in ballet performance from The University of Oklahoma in 1987, she earned a master’s in dance at Butler University and taught ballet there as an adjunct faculty member.
Over the past 20 years, Buzzell has taught dance and choreography for an astonishing number of places in and around Bloomington, moving quickly from teaching aerobics at the YMCA to teaching jazz and musical theater dance in Indiana University’s ballet department. She has choreographed numerous high school productions, most notably with director Francesca Sobrer at Bloomington High School North. “I love that age group,” she says. “They’re incredibly eager to learn. When I did West Side Story, we had a lot of guys, but none of them danced. I choreographed the show using sports instead of ballet terms, and it ended up being a phenomenal production.” She has also choreographed productions for Bedford North Lawrence High School, Bloomfield High School, and Bloomington High School South.
Buzzell knows her field from every angle. For seven years she ran her own nonprofit dance company, Indiana Dance Theater. In addition to performing, Buzzell managed choreography, artistic direction, and costume design. “It was a very creative time in my life,” she says, though she eventually closed her company, ready for a full-time job with benefits.
In 2010, Buzzell was working in the development office at IU’s School of Public Health when White asked her to choreograph Cardinal’s production of Annie. Her experience in development, combined with her career in dance, made her the perfect candidate when Cardinal had an opening for a development director. Buzzell’s take? “When I was offered a job doing exactly what I love to do, it would have been hard to say no!”