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Ballet Kelowna shutting down after ten years

Ballet Kelowna dancer Tiffany Bilodeau in the Dying Swan.

Glenna Turnbull

Citing a difficult environment for arts organizations, Ballet Kelowna has announced it will shut down operations. The company, which was established in 2002 and performed for the first time in 2003, will hold its final performances in March.

"Sustaining a ballet company in a smaller market in an ongoing struggle," read a statement by Ballet Kelowna Board President Jamie Maw, in a news release.

"No matter how much we fine tune our projections, and despite one of the hardest working boards in show business, the continuing downward economic trends are more than we can adjust for. "

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Maw said the company is at the point where it will be able to retire its financial obligations responsibly, having maintained balanced budgets over its ten-year history. "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."

The shutdown coincides with the retirement of artistic director David LaHay, who established the company after moving to Kelowna in 2002.

"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," read a statement by LaHay, a former principal dancer with Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, and Ballet Master with Les Grands, The Ottawa Ballet and Alberta Ballet.

Under his leadership, the boutique company of six dancers performed a repertoire of both classical and contemporary work. The company also commissioned new works, and LaHay has choreographed more than 10 original works for the company. The company performs in two separate seasons each year, and an annual Nutracker with the Canadian School of Ballet. Beyond frequent performances in Kelowna, it has toured to more than 30 smaller communities throughout B.C. and Alberta. Its final performances will be March 15 in Kelowna and March 16 in Summerland.

The Kelowna Ballet Society will continue to exist in shell form, with the hope that "a new group of dance enthusiasts, with renewed energy and vision, will bring their own brand of dance to Kelowna," read the news release.

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About the Author
Western Arts Correspondent

Marsha Lederman is the Western Arts Correspondent for The Globe and Mail, based in Vancouver. She covers the film and television industry, visual art, literature, music, theatre, dance, cultural policy, and other related areas. More

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