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View, 1-6: Happy Holidays, You're Out of Work
"All there was left to do was collect our belongings under the watchful
eye of Mr. Policeman."
By a Ballet Internationale
The Dance Insider
-- Wednesday, November 9, started out normally for the dancers of
Ballet Internationale in Indianapolis, yet, at 11:30 a.m, right
after class ended, our world as we knew it ended.
The president of the
company's board of directors, Pat Burley, along with an attorney
representing the board, as well as an armed police officer, pulled
dancers and staff alike along with Eldar Aliev, artistic director,
and Bill Wilson, executive director, into Studio 1, where they proceeded
to tell us that, after 32 years in Indianapolis, the company was
being shut down, effective immediately. We had an hour and a half
to collect all personal belongings and leave the building before
the locks were changed. This also meant the end of the company's
Clara Noyes Academy, which taught over 300 children, and had been
recognized as an outstanding school at the Youth America Grand Prix.
As far as we all knew,
the company and school were doing better than ever: regular season
ticket sales were up, academy enrollment was high, and, so far,
we were well ahead of last year's record-breaking "Nutcracker" ticket
sales. So why, then, were we to cancel "Nutcracker" and all remaining
performances for the season and beyond? It is well known that "Nutcracker"
keeps ballet companies alive. Why shut down now?
All the excuses the
board of directors could think of were given to us with no real
answers as to why this had to be and why we had had absolutely no
warning. A lot of empty words.... They had given up. We were then
told by Eldar that he had approached Cincinnati Ballet about a possible
merger the night prior and that their response had been positive,
yet the board decided to shut us down the very next day. They never
even gave the community a chance to rally and keep the arts alive.
All of us wavered between
anger and tears, unable to fathom that this was real. It seemed
like a nightmare with no end in sight. All there was left to do
was collect our belongings under the watchful eye of Mr. Policeman.
A press conference called
by the board was to be held at 2 p.m. at the Murat Theatre, where
the company always performed. As we all gathered there and read
the press release announcing the demise of the company, we spoke
openly about what had happened to the reporters. The questions they
had were the same ones we had asked earlier for which we never got
straight answers. When the spokesperson for the board arrived, we
realized we would not get any new information, as this woman was
merely a volunteer and had been so for eight days only. She mostly
repeated, "I don't have the answer to that question."
Since it seemed like
there was nothing left to be done about Ballet Internationale, we
turned our attention to the future. Along with Eldar and Bill, we
tried in vain to present "Nutcracker" on our own but were unable
to raise the needed $250,000.00 in the short period of time leading
to our originally scheduled dates. Studio space, although graciously
donated by Butler University in order for us to take class every
day, was still needed for rehearsals, along with sets and costumes.
You can imagine everyone's
shock to be left jobless with no future prospects of the company
getting back together. It is not easy, even mostly impossible, for
a dancer to find a job mid-season. Most of the company is foreign,
which means some face the risk of being deported, and some may even
have to go into the army if sent back to their home countries.
Ballet companies are
like families, and this one is devastated. One would hope that a
lesson was learned so as to never repeat this with another company,
but there are so many questions left unanswered.... If they had
the choice to do it again, would the board take a different route?
Name withheld on request.