Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Lillian Barbeito, Founder and President of Carmel Dance Festival, located in Carmel, CA, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

Carmel Dance Festival is a non-profit organization that creates positive change in our world through the presentation of extraordinary dance performances and quality dance education that connect and enliven people of all demographics.

Tell us about yourself

With all that is going on in the world, including war, corruption, and climate change, the arts are a way for us to communicate and express ourselves. I believe that dance in particular profoundly and instantaneously joins people together harmoniously. I bring more than 35 years of dance experience as an artist, producer, director, and educator to my role as Artistic Director of Ballare Carmel. During the course of my career, she has been a performer with contemporary dance companies, the co-founder of a world-renowned non-profit organization, and an internationally recognized, certified teacher of Countertechnique. My greatest wish is to build a SUSTAINABLE, world-renowned festival that draws people to the Monterey Peninsula to celebrate dance and a resident company that collaborates with local artists and shares local stories through world-class contemporary dance.


Lillian grew up in the desert under the blues skies of Santa Fe, New Mexico, where she trained with the Santa Fe Dance Foundation and worked with The Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, Southwest Ballet, and the Santa Fe Opera. She earned her BFA from The Juilliard School, where she studied on a four-year, full-tuition scholarship awarded by Tomorrow's Leaders of America for her essay about the world dancing together in harmony.​

​Lillian had an extensive performance career that took her to Europe, New York, and then finally to Los Angeles, where she founded BODYTRAFFIC with Tina Berkett, where she served as Co-Artistic Director and Director of Education for over 13 years. Under her Co-Direction, the company toured to sold-out audiences and international acclaim at theaters such as the Algiers Opera House, Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Philadelphia, Institute of Contemporary Arts in Boston, Jacob's Pillow, New York City Center, The Broad Stage, The Hollywood Bowl, The Israeli Opera, The Joyce Theater, The Lensic in Santa Fe, ODC in San Francisco, Rothstein Theatre in Vancouver, The Wallis in Beverly Hills, Winspear Opera House in Dallas among countless other prestigious venues around the planet.

At the onset of the pandemic, Lillian launched HAVEN Global Sanctuary for Dance, an online platform devoted to providing work for teachers and choreographers that served as a refuge for dancers to keep evolving despite the global shutdown. In less than nine months, HAVEN provided over 45k in scholarships to attend 13 innovative online dance mentorship programs.

Barbeito has taught internationally for organizations such as CALARTS, Idyllwild Arts Academy, L'Artère, and L'ecole de Danse in Quebec City, Lyon Opera Ballet, Northwest Dance Project, San Francisco Conservatory of Dance, Southland Ballet Academy, The Wooden Floor, and UCLA's Department of World Arts and Cultures. Barbeito is one of 36 teachers in the world who is certified to teach Anouk van Dijk's groundbreaking Countertechnique. She has choreographed over 50 works for high schools, universities, competitions, regional ballet companies, and professional modern dance companies throughout the US and Canada.
She was a Senior Lecturer at Loyola Marymount University, where she taught various dance-related courses from 2010-2021. Lillian is married to filmmaker and environmentalist Grant Barbeito. They relocated their two sons, Oliver, who is 12, and Forest, who is almost 8, two bearded dragons, and an Irish Doodle named Harvey to Carmel Valley in August of 2021.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

We commissioned four new works this year. One piece by Chicago-based choreographer Noelle Kayser premiered last weekend at the 2nd Annual Carmel Dance Festival during our performances at dreamlike Folktale Winery & Vineyards. Six extraordinary dancers from across the country galvanized the already stunning grounds with an unforgettable immersive dance experience. The piece inspired by the pioneering women of Carmel began along a cobblestone pathway, and a secluded courtyard continued in a vineyard with the Santa Lucia Mountains as the backdrop and then culminated with served canapes at a soiree with the artists in a tucked-away luxurious villa.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

As a non-profit, fundraising is without a doubt the most challenging aspect of my job.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Anyone and everyone can be a potential partner, supporter, or customer.
  2. Teamwork, be a kind and inspiring leader whom people want to help and work with.
  3. Success is just not giving up.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

Movement makes everything better; just dance!

Where can people find you and your business?


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