Ballet AZ Blog

Continuing To Thrive: A Letter From Executive Director Samantha Turner

A Letter from Executive Director Samantha Turner

In 2016, The New York Times referred to Ballet Arizona as “one of the most enterprising companies anywhere.” The context of that comment was chief dance critic Alastair Macaulay’s review of Round, but that description – inventive, resourceful, and adventurous — extends to Ballet Arizona in so many ways. Thanks to your support, there are things happening in the Valley that you will see in few, if any other, places in the country.

Consider Ballet Under the Stars, presented a the end of September in four communities. For 21 years, your gifts have provided more than 250,000 people the opportunity to see a free ballet performance under the desert skies at parks across the Valley. Do some googling and you’ll see that there is no other professional ballet company in the country that offers a free performance like Ballet Under the Stars, let alone a series of evenings, year after year. More than $150,000 in support from donors like you, corporations, foundations and the National Endowment for the Arts made it possible to present this program that costs nearly $400,000 to produce. We are actively seeking expanded support for Ballet Under the Stars and we welcome your introductions to people and organizations who can help us make sure we can continue to offer this unprecedented community gift.

While you are googling, look to see how many ballet companies partner with a professional symphony orchestra to provide live music at performances. Our partnership with the Phoenix Symphony is one of the few instances in the country that brings together both the professional ballet and orchestra. Ballet performed to live music, particularly on the level of the Phoenix Symphony, is the art in its greatest form, elevating the experience for both the audience and the dancers. We are deeply grateful to Hazel A. S. Hare, a beloved, long-time supporter whose legacy gift established an endowment of more than $4 million that helps fund live music. It is our dream to grow that endowment to $10 million so that its earnings can support the full cost of investment in live music, which approaches a half million dollars.

Our Artistic Director, Ib Andersen, is the foundation of Ballet Arizona’s enterprising spirit, which he carries into the studio and onto the stage. From the first day the dancers return to prepare for the upcoming season, Ib is in the rehearsal studio – all day, every day – guiding them toward that elusive perfection they seek to share with the audience. Surprisingly, it is rare to have an artistic director make this deep commitment to the dancers, the art and patrons like you who experience and support the ballet. In many cases, artistic leadership will step into the studio just a week or two before the performance to supervise the final adjustments. Ib’s daily caretaking of the art – as a protégé and direct link to George Balanchine, the father of American ballet – brings to the stage performances that compare to the most prestigious companies in the country. Your annual gift supports Ib, the dancers and all the artistic and production staff in this daily work to brings magnificent art to the stage.

There are many other examples I could share. This enterprising approach is critical to a thriving ballet company and performing arts culture in our community. The most important point, however, is that it all happens because of your gifts. Thank you for making all of this possible.

attending the ballet
Symphony Hall before a Ballet Arizona performance.

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