An MCC Staffer in the Spotlight
Danielle Van Hook
Director, Youth Theatre Programs
Eighteen months ago, The Alden welcomed a new Director of its Youth Theatre Programs. Meet Danielle Van Hook. She was hired to fill the position after the retirement of longtime employee Kathy Herr. An experienced theater professional with a love of youth, Danielle has been busy refreshing the performing arts division’s offerings for the “under 18” crowd.
An Arts Management graduate of Juniata College, Danielle began her career at the Wolf Trap Foundation’s Institute for Early Learning through the Arts where she worked with teachers to bring artists to area classrooms. Before joining MCC, she worked in the programming and resource development department at the Association of Performing Arts Professionals, the largest service organization for performing arts industry professionals. Her new job encompasses “everything and anything” that The Alden offers for youth and the performing arts, including the family performance series, Alden productions featuring McLean youth, (the) Unruly Theatre Project and other improv programs, the Macdonald Scholarship Competition, summer concerts and the music education program, as well as youth performing arts master classes and workshops.
“The best part of my job is getting to know the community! Between the professional artist series for families and our programs for young actors, I get to meet arts lovers of all ages,” she said. Parents have expressed to Van Hook that they are offered improv training at their workplaces and they are happy to see our improv programs being offered to youth. “I see how improv improves students’ confidence, leadership, quick thinking and many other abilities, but it’s even better when parents get excited about the impact.” she says. Working with young McLean actors on Alden-produced shows has also been a rewarding experience. “Participants are sometimes upset when the shows end. This always reminds me of the great impact the performing arts has on the lives of young people and it also speaks to the power theater has to unite us,” she said.
On a personal note, Danielle and her husband Travis married shortly before she began her new position. The couple recently added a new member to their family, a Goldendoodle puppy named JoJo. According to Van Hook, “She loves people and is the sweetest bundle of energy.” Look for JoJo (and Danielle) at The Alden’s summer concerts in McLean Central Park this July.
You can contact Van Hook at email@example.com or 703-744-9368.