From age four to 18, I lived ballet, pointe and jazz. I found beauty and satisfaction in the culture — the movement, symmetry, expression, discipline, and music. I longed for new leotards and dreaded new pointe shoes and the subsequent weeks of breaking them in.
Where did this love story begin? A swim teacher danced and suggested that I try classes for the coordination, recognition of rhythm and self-confidence it instilled. It was also one of the few activities available during the fall and winter months in a small town. I should mention that I was obsessed with Angelina Ballerina books. I met two of best friends in Creative Dance and find it impossible to forget my lilac butterfly costume from the first recital. From there, it was a whirlwind of performances from The Wizard of Oz to The Nutcracker until I was old enough to become a member of the Wabash Valley Dance Theater Company.
When I spotted an announcement about a new professional ballet company possibly starting in Indy, I broke into a set of grand battement (that’s large kicks for you non-dancers).
Indianapolis City Ballet seeks to unite and strengthen the ballet, dance, and arts community. Founded with a philosophy that more dance is good for everyone — be it professional, amateur or scholastic, contemporary, classical, jazz, ballroom or tap — Indianapolis City Ballet offers links to dance-related resources.
The Indianapolis City Ballet hopes to establish a 12 person professional company in Indianapolis (as opposed to a larger regional company) under the artistic direction of John Meehan, maintaining a performance regime of both classical and contemporary ballet. You can listen to an interview with Meehan on WFYI “The Art of the Matter”: WFYI “The Art of the Matter” To gauge and raise community support, the City Ballet is holding a gala performance this Saturday at the Murat Theatre with dancers from around the world. This probably isn’t news to you. The gala is getting quite a bit of publicity. You can meet the dancers in this Indianapolis Star article, or get a glimpse into the lives of a married couple from the American Ballet Theatre who will be performing at the gala in Glamour magazine. The story of the City Ballet is also featured in the latest issue of Dance Magazine, Indianapolis Monthly, and NUVO.
As much as I hope the company is successful and the gala is a sell-out, I am not sure that Indianapolis is ready to support this venture. It has some major supporters and sponsors behind it, including both individual donors and companies like Saks and Tiffany & Co. But is the Midwestern ballet audience ready to be revived? I had friends in Ballet Internationale when it went under four years ago and that history makes me nervous. City Ballet includes its background online, but makes no mention of focus groups or surveys conducted to test the market, although they imply that the gala is the actual test. Also, I wonder if Indy has an audience with an eye for classical ballet? Dance Kaleidoscope is a contemporary company and often draws large audiences because of the approachability of modern dance. It seems the City Ballet recognizes they have to do more than classical ballet to draw people in — their ad in the Indy Star reads “A one-of-a-kind performance featuring acclaimed dancers from major international companies; neo-classical and contemporary ballets; fog machines, strobe lights and a cow in a pink tutu!”
In addition to a substantial amount of press, the City Ballet is doing an nice job stating their cause through tranparency on its Web site. The site also contains an educational section with theatre and ballet terms for newcomers, and the City Ballet is on Facebook with more than 230 fans.
Consider trying something new this Saturday night and supporting the Indianapolis City Ballet at An Evening with the Stars. It may be the beginning of your love story. Or share your thoughts — is Indianapolis ready for a new professional ballet company? I am.