Canada loses a small ballet company

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Ballet Kelowna, a small company in central British Columbia, is closing. Here is their press release:

The Final Curtain Call

After ten illustrious years of inspired dance, and the imminent

retirement of Artistic Director David LaHay, Ballet Kelowna will take

its final curtain call on March16th.

Over the past decade, and in addition to performing frequently at the

Kelowna Community Theatre, Ballet Kelowna has taken LaHay’s inspired

blend of classical and contemporary dance to more than 30 smaller

communities throughout British Columbia and Alberta. Its starring role

in The Nutcracker in Kelowna has long been a family favourite during the holiday season.

Throughout that time the company has managed to maintain balanced

budgets with the assistance of grants, three major fundraising events

and government and donor support. But across the board, non-profits, and

especially arts organizations, have been experiencing dwindling

audiences, sponsorship and fundraising event attendance.

"Ten years celebrates a significant achievement," says Ballet Kelowna

Board President Jamie Maw. "Sustaining a ballet company in a smaller

market is an ongoing struggle, one we've willingly embraced knowing how

fortunate we are to bring David's extraordinarily high standard of dance

to our community, and to many others.”

“No matter how much we fine tune our projections,” Maw said, “and

despite one of the hardest working Boards in show business, the

continuing downward economic trends are more than we can adjust for. We

currently find ourselves at an opportune juncture to celebrate those ten

years, concurrent with the ability to retire our financial obligations

responsibly. Our financial forecasting tells us—six months from now—that

will no longer be the case. As much as we would love to continue

supporting dance in Kelowna, we owe it to the City and to our funders to

act with fiduciary responsibility."

Ballet Kelowna, with the financial assistance of the Thomas Alan Budd

Foundation and a group of community business people, will continue its

tour performances in March, culminating in ‘Grand Finales’ in Kelowna

and Summerland on March 15th and 16th.

The City of Kelowna has been a major funder of Ballet Kelowna since

2003. Sandra Kochan, Cultural Services Manager for the City, commented,

“Over the last ten years, our community has been privileged to be the

home base for this dynamic, innovative touring company which has touched

the lives of so many audiences here at home and throughout Western

Canada. Ballet Kelowna has also fulfilled an important role in the

career development of its professional dancers, and the artistic legacy

of David LaHay’s mentorship will continue as these talented young

dancers move on to other stages. The departure of this organization from

the community’s cultural family is a real loss; on behalf of the City I

extend sincere thanks to the dancers, staff, Directors and volunteers

who have worked so hard over the last decade to share the beauty and

athleticism of ballet with us.”

The Kelowna Ballet Society will continue to exist in shell form, in

hopes that a new group of dance enthusiasts, with renewed energy and

vision, will bring their own brand of dance to Kelowna, and build upon

the creative legacy of David LaHay.

In Kelowna since 2002, David LaHay brought with him a distinguished

career as Principal Dancer of Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, and Ballet

Master at Les Grands, The Ottawa Ballet, and Alberta Ballet. Touring his

eight young dancers all over BC and Alberta, David brought

world-caliber dance to children and communities that would often

otherwise never have had this exposure.

LaHay said, “I am very proud of the precious gift I and my devoted,

talented dancers have given to the City of Kelowna and the province of

British Columbia this past decade - a ballet company that earned the

respect and admiration of audiences and presenters everywhere with

exciting programming that truly “Moved” everyone. I am most grateful for

all the support we have received from so many people, corporations and

funding agencies who have truly our partners in the dance.”

Ballet Kelowna invites the entire community to come out and support its

‘Grand Finale’ performances. Program and ticket information can be

found at www.balletkelowna.ca

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This is very sad -- smaller ensembles like this are able to serve smaller communities, both at home and on tour.

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a short reprieve for Ballet Kelowna:

The Show Must Go On!

Local Heroes ensure Ballet Kelowna will complete its

10th Anniversary Season!

After disclosing its intention to suspend operations effective March 16th, Ballet Kelowna is thrilled to announce that the ‘little ballet company that could’ will take the stage in communities across BC in the company’s 10th Anniversary Tour as planned this spring. Previously suspended tour dates in Mission and Coquitlam have been re-instated as well as outreach performances in several Kelowna schools.

In a joint message, Ballet Kelowna President Jamie Maw and Artistic Director David LaHay said, “This temporary financial reprieve allows us to finish our season at the end of April as originally planned. And importantly, it protects our out-of-town presenters while allowing our dancers to take their message across the province.”

The company has experienced an outpouring of community support from individuals and businesses including The Canadian School of Ballet, Chris and Michelle Sorensen and the Thomas Alan Budd Foundation – each of whom has stepped forward to help Ballet Kelowna complete their season.

“Staff will donate time, and board members, sponsors and donors have dug even more deeply,” Maw said. “We would like to thank everyone involved in ensuring this six-week extension.”

Artistic Director LaHay added, “I’m very proud of the entire Ballet Kelowna family and our successful efforts to complete our season as planned. I now ask all of you, our partners in the dance, to help us ensure the legacy continues. Please attend a performance, make a donation or become a member of the Kelowna Ballet Society.”

Davin Luce, who has danced with Ballet Kelowna for four years says, “This company gives Canadian dancers a one-in-a-million opportunity at a career. The loss of Ballet Kelowna would be tragic, not only for the dance community, but also for Kelowna and all the small communities we serve on tour.”

According to Maw, the company is now scheduled to suspend operations at the end of April. “We will be convening a Town Hall meeting on Wednesday, February 13th at the Kelowna Art Gallery at 1315 Water Street so that members, dancers, staff, the City, and patrons, donors and the public can objectively express their thoughts about the future of dance in the Okanagan.”

Ballet Kelowna will be celebrating with a free public performance at Orchard Park Shopping Centre on February 23rd. The company’s spring tour includes a performance on March 15th at the Kelowna Community Theatre. Flower Power, Ballet Kelowna’s annual garden tour, will be held June 15th with Chris Sorensen of National Bank Financial as title sponsor. Tickets and more information are available at BalletKelowna.ca left-bar.jpgDavinPosterShot.130633.jpgBK_10thAnniversary_logo.121917.jpgRaelynnJoD.130824.jpg

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