John Krasno is the executive director of the Oklahoma City Ballet. Prior to his arrival in Oklahoma and his current position, Krasno lived in Los Angeles and worked in the film industry. He is, admittedly, an awful ballet dancer.
“My first foray into the arts was playing cello in the second grade. I was inspired to play by an abstract painting by (Gustave) Moreau that had a cello in it. I can still picture that painting.
I played in the youth orchestra, but I was not very good because I didn’t practice enough. The only thing I was dedicated to when I was very young was writing. I wrote my first novel in fourth grade. It was a take off of James Bond called James Bored; his secretary was named Laura Nails. The villain, Spector, had stolen the Eiffel Tower and was selling off the pieces as erector sets. I still think it was a pretty clever novel, especially for a fourth-grader.
I was a ballet dancer in my late teens and early 20s, but I did it exclusively to meet girls and keep in shape. I didn’t have the (body) to be a ballet dancer.
Professionally, I worked in a CPA firm and created business management practices that were almost exclusively for the entertainment industry. I then went to work at Panavision (manufacturer and distributor of camera equipment for the film industry) and helped grow the company’s presence in the independent film industry.
I joined the Oklahoma City Ballet as executive director in 2009. It was a bit of an adventure. I’m from the West Coast and had never lived in the Midwest except as a small child. I have found it a tremendous learning experience, and there are wonderful people in Oklahoma.
One of the reasons that I came to the Oklahoma City Ballet and one of the biggest challenges of this job is to make ballet relevant to the 21st century. We’re trying to do this by bringing in some of the best choreographers in the country, and it’s inspired the audiences here. Whether it’s Oklahoma or any other place, people always say they don’t know anything about dance or don’t understand it, but if you put good art in front of them, they’ll get it. They may not understand it intellectually, but they get what’s going on.
We put on good work, and people respond to it. We want to keep building the repertory of the Oklahoma City Ballet. People may not associate Oklahoma City with a home of good art, yet there is good art here. This is not just an oil and gas state, this is not just a sports state. Art is a cultural necessity to the growth of Oklahoma.”