Natalie Alvarado is the coach, choreographer, and manager of Houston Rockets Entertainment, including the Houston Rockets Powers Dancers. Being a Houston native and having seven seasons with RPD under her belt, Alvarado came back to be with the Houston Rockets in 2012 after building her career as a successful pop artist and professional dancer. With her debut album, “Natalie”, Alvarado’s single “Goin’ Crazy” reached #13 on Billboard’s Top 100 in 2005.
Do you give permission to release the following contents of this interview to be published online on Southern Methodist University’s website?
Yes, I do.
Do you think a business plan has a role in the development and launch of an arts business venture?
Yes, preparation, you always have to have it. Whatever it is you’re going to accomplish, you need it. A business plan takes you beyond what accomplishments you achieve and helps you look into the future.
Did you ever find the concept of planning and developing and actually writing down a plan useful in any part of the development of your career?
Absolutely. As your career changes, you find that you do need to jot things down. You need to think of the outcome. Yes, planning, and going back to your question, you definitely need to write it out. You have to have everything in order and if something occurs, you can go back to it. The more you have it written out, you have the outline to always fall back on.
What turned out to be the best method in the planning of your career?
You have to believe in what you’re working towards. You can get super comfortable in what you’re doing but having a plan in place to further it, like for me learning in the music business and working with one of the best teams in the league with the Houston Rockets, it helps planning things out that you want to achieve. You have to sit back and think about what you want to accomplish in the long run. If you really want to go somewhere, you have to do your research. If you do your research on the most successful people in the world, you can find that they wrote out a plan at some point. They had a plan and they stuck with it. In my career, learning from those “going with the flow” moments, I’ve realized it’s valuable to have a plan. Maybe it comes with age, but young people and college students should always have a plan and know what they’re getting yourself into with what it may be.
What tools did you find useful in the development of your career as an artist?
Definitely perfect your craft. Realize what separates you and makes you special. For anyone that has a dream, or goals that they want to accomplish, for one, I think you have to believe in yourself, and two, put the work into it. No matter what it is, put the practice into. You have to take yourself out of your comfort zone. What specifically helped me was the hard work. Strongly now, I believe when you’re taking a nap or a break from what you’re doing, other people are taking those opportunities you have. I’ve learned that you definitely have to put in the hard work.
What has been the most difficult part of planning and developing the new direction of the Houston Rockets Power Dancers and how did you overcome it?
The most challenging, in the beginning, was changing the branding of the Rockets Power Dancers. It started with the logo, and it took my team around me to believe in me and my vision. When you look at the Houston Rockets organization, and as a former Power Dancer, I know that they represent an organization that is world renowned. To come in and change everything off the bat, and being very persistent about it, it was scary. It was good but also a bit scary. I wanted to change them, not too much, but just enough. There was definitely a fear that they were going to be too different. I knew it couldn’t happen overnight. With the uniforms, my vision wasn’t seen with one of them, but they saw what I envisioned in the other two. I had sketches drawn out but when it comes to the result, with the girls actually wearing them, it doesn’t always match your vision and what’s in your head. What you plan, it doesn’t always come out that way. Small changes made a huge difference in the end.
What was the best advice you received during your time planning the new direction for the Houston Rockets Power Dancers?
Whether it was from my family, my mother, my manager, it was belief. Believe, believe, believe. When you’re expressing your passion and why you want to change something so bad, you have to believe it. The way I delivered everything I wanted to do, I wanted everyone to believe in me. I did my research and to see so much potential with this group of women, and coming from the entertainment business as a dancer, I had an idea what I needed to do in order to better the group. I believed in them. During the hiring process, they believed what I envisioned. You have to do what you feel. Do what you think will help you be the best. Do you and what you’re good at. After talking to others in the league and learning of their freedom as far as what they can do, I’m grateful for my freedom here with the Rockets of what I am allowed to do.
What do you believe are necessary qualities, if there are any, for arts entrepreneurs to possess or develop?
Definitely know business. If you want to own a business or whatever it is that you want to do, you have to believe in that one thing that drives you and others will jump on board. Also, great speaking skills. People will buy into what you’re speaking about. Reading and speaking skills and knowing more than your craft will definitely help. Any entrepreneur has to do research and has to know what it is you’re talking about. No one wants to work with someone who doesn’t know what they’re talking about and hasn’t done their research. The better you are with speaking, the more believable you become.
What three pieces of advice would you give aspiring arts entrepreneurs on planning?
Don’t’ over think. Sometimes we can over think and be too analytical and it ruins what you’re going for in the first place. The second piece of advice would be to try something new. Sometimes we can get in our comfort zone and stay there but don’t be afraid to step out of your box and try something new. Get inspired by someone else and do something different from what you’re comfortable with. And the third piece of advice would be to make sure you’re happy with what you’re doing. Nothing’s perfect, but make sure with what you’re doing that you’re’ happy in the process. At the end of the day, you have to be happy and do what you love. No one wants to put together a plan and be completely miserable.
Article Interview by Amanda Barnes.