Cracking the 'Nutcracker' 

Have you been eavesdropping on my staff meetings? (Hoppe, “Another ‘Nutcracker’; Who cares?,” Oct. 10-17) Maybe you have been cc’d on all our interoffice emails. You have pulled out your Nutcracker and cracked open the same questions we have been asking Indianapolis community leaders.

The Russian Ballet Academy of Indiana is actually working with the Cincinnati Ballet Company to perform the Nutcracker. Why, you ask, when RBAI is the Academy of the Indiana Ballet Company, which is struggling to stay afloat? The answer is threefold. First, CBC came to us because “our children are the best trained and best prepared students in classical and contemporary ballet in Central Indiana” (their words). Secondly, it fits our mission to provide performance opportunities for our students (and doesn’t cost us anything so how can we refuse free publicity?). Third, the answer is in your article; if Indianapolis community leaders, foundations and philanthropic individuals would truly rather give $2 million in gifts to an out-of-state organization rather than give $450,000 (which is the annual philanthropic need of the Indiana Ballet Company/RBAI) to a home town organization, we at RBAI and IBC need to find a way to work with that chosen organization in order to provide the best for our students, instructors and professional dancers.

Doesn’t it seem strange that after all this time we are still talking about the scandal of ballet in Indianapolis? Obviously it is still newsworthy, so let’s break it down. Ok, $2 million may be more than Cincinnati really needs but you are correct in saying they are going to use ticket sales and philanthropic funds from Central Indiana to perform in Indianapolis. But — where will the “NET” profits be spent? Where do dancers and staff spend their money on milk, gas, rent or a mortgage? Where do the dancers and staff pay their taxes? These are the questions that need to be asked of those who support out-of-state companies. What happened to the new mantra of Indianapolis Arts “Be Indypendent”?

Again David, you are right about what the news stories need to be about. The real stories are about Indianapolis citizens who teach and train in ballet and why they want to make Indianapolis their home. I can only give you a little snippet of the stories of our people and hope that news organizations will take up your call for more information about these self-declared Hoosiers. For instance; why would artistic director Alyona Yakovleva and dancers Sergey Sergiev, So Yon Nam, Roman Nikiforov, Lydia Lanier and Mallory Post, want to be here? They believe in Blue! That’s right! This is a winning city and they believe that it deserves a professional ballet company of its own. That is why they all turned down contracts (some more than two) from other companies in other cities to stay here to support Alyona in rebuilding ballet in Central Indiana.

A great deal has been said about Eldar Aliev and the Ballet Internationale Board. That’s old news; we need to learn from it and get over it. We must give Aliev credit for bringing many of the most beautiful and highly qualified dancers in the world to Indianapolis, and for creating the foundation for world-class ballet instruction. We at IBC are lucky that some of those dancers believe in Alyona and Indianapolis, and chose to stay here. There are many more dancers who call regularly asking if IBC has a place for them so they can come home.

David: We need your help. Alyona would like your readers to tell us what Christmas story they would like to see on the ballet stage. She says if we get a majority of Hoosiers to express interest in a particular Christmas story by mid-March of 2008, she will choreograph an original ballet of that story for the 2008 season instead of a “Nutcracker”. We agree that six Nutcrackers is too much of a good thing.

Russ Smith
Executive Director
Indiana Ballet Company
Russian Ballet Academy of Indiana

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