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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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