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