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Flash 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 Dancer
The Dance Insider

INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana -- 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.

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