Breaking Ground: The Black Box Addition


The groundbreaking of the new black box addition to the Auer Center for Arts and Culture took place Wednesday morning, May 29. Over 60 people gathered on the appropriately beautiful summer day to mark the monumental occasion.

Each of the short speeches given to commemorate the event had similar themes. Words about expanding the cultural representation and improving the quality of life for individuals in Fort Wayne would highlight the necessity of the new theatre.

“There are a tremendous group of talented people looking to shape culture in our community,” one speaker described.

“Arts United is at the front of creating that.”

When the speeches were over, shovels hit the ground to break the dirt and signify the start of a new artistic beginning.

Simultaneously, Lucia Rogers, Felicity Nicholson, Juanita Araque – all in white tutus – and Talbot Rue – in a white dress shirt and black bottoms – emerged from the building and lay on the dirt as if dead.

They gracefully sat in the ground, and when the shovels stopped moving and haunting music began to play, they began to contort to life. From out of the dirt, the four dancers created beauty.

To most people’s surprise, while the dancers were stretching to the sky, color poured down from the tree they were dancing underneath. The dancers were coated in first pink, then yellow, and finally blue. They danced amidst a rain of color, and shortly after ended, standing strongly and proudly.



Dancers from Fort Wayne Ballet demonstrate some of the innovative performances that can be held in the new ArtsLab black box space being constructed at the Auer Center for Arts and Culture. (By Kevin Kilbane of The News-Sentinel)


The construction will begin next Thursday, which means slight adjustments will need to be made when looking for parking. An update with more details will be released soon.


And the recipients are…

At the end of each year’s Secondary Showcase, the Most Improved Award and the Lindsay Katherine Hatch Scholarship are awarded to two individuals who have most exemplified their respective criteria. The upper levels have a higher attendance and responsibility requirement, so the faculty’s consideration for these awards begins there.
Winner of the Most Improved Award:

The student chosen for this award must have exceptional attendance, attitude, and conduct. They must also have shown the most improvement consistently from fall until the showcase. This award is not necessarily awarded to the best dancer, but the most improved dancer. This student receives free tuition for the upcoming school year.
For the 2012 – 2013 school year, Talbot Rue was selected as the Most Improved Student. Talbot arrives at class consistently prepared to devote 100% to the day. He never appears preoccupied or thoughtless about his training. He constantly has an excellent attitude, and always comes ready for the challenge. Furthermore, he is exceptional at mentoring the younger boys.
Winner of the Lindsay Katherine Hatch Scholarship:
A young student who attended the Fort Wayne Ballet was tragically killed in a plane crash just before her 12th birthday. Her family established a scholarship fund in her memory. The scholarship is given to a student that embodies Lindsay’s characteristics. The recipient must be passionate and serious about dance, a joyful person, and always a friend. Lindsay could find the one who always felt left out and include them in a way that gave them a new-found confidence. She was an amazing lady who did not live to reach her potential.
Lindsay was in the first ever Performing Level of the Fort Wayne Ballet, so a worthy candidate is normally selected from there. For the 2012 – 2013 school year, Taylor Ebert was awarded the Lindsay Katherine Hatch Scholarship.
Congratulations to Talbot Rue and Taylor Ebert!

Meet Lauren Slocum


As many of you have probably noticed, there is a new face at the front desk these days.  Allow me to introduce myself!  My name is Lauren Slocum and as of January, I have been taking on the role of Projects Manager.  I may look familiar to some of you…my history with the Fort Wayne Ballet goes a little ways back.

I started dancing at the Fort Wayne Ballet at the age of 6 in 1994.  It wasn’t a huge surprise when my mother signed me and my sister up for ballet classes.  She was actually a dancer herself.  My mother, Kara Ryan Slocum, and aunt, Molly Ryan Smethers, both grew up dancing at the Fort Wayne Ballet all the way through high school.  I began my education with the ballet under Rose Aimee Butler, working through the R.A.D. program.  I continued dancing at the ballet all the way through high school, working my way up to Performing Level 2.  I studied under the direction of Karen Gibbons-Brown, Derek Reid, Radmila Teodorovic, and Elenora Pokhitonova Hartung, as well as many master teachers including Jeremy Blanton and Kevin Martin.  Throughout my years dancing here, I have enjoyed the opportunity of performing in many classical ballets and contemporary pieces.  Some of my favorite roles I have performed include Snow Crystal, Arabian Coffee, and Marzipan Shepherdess in The Nutcracker, Swanhilda’s Friend in Coppélia, and the Fairy Godmother and Spring Fairy in Cinderella.  

Upon graduating high school in 2007, I was accepted into the Butler University Dance Program.  I attended Butler University where I danced with the Butler Ballet, and received my Bachelor of Science in Arts Administration in 2011.

In the 2011-2012 school year, I returned home and began my teaching career with the Fort Wayne Ballet at the new studios in the Auer Center.  I really enjoyed teaching the Pre-Ballet, Ballet I, & adult students, as well as my Tap class.

And so that brings us back to the present.  Growing up, the Fort Wayne Ballet truly was my “home away from home.”  I am so excited to have this opportunity to return and be a part of the place that helped shape me into the woman I am today.  I look forward to the chance to give back to the organization that has already given me so much.

Dance Connects Us

At its very core, dance is a connection of body, mind and spirit. We see and experience this every day. Parents who dance with their babies (like our new parents, Alexis and David Ingram)…athletes during a big game (‘Everybody Dances’ Trading Cards) …newlywed’s first dance (as our former dancer, Stephanie Shipman, can look forward to)…and all those who have wisely learned to dance like no one’s watching. Yes, we all dance through life, accepting the invitation to connect in some manner of importance.

DANCE CONNECTS US in many ways at Fort Wayne Ballet, some of the not so obvious ways include our relationships with our donors, patrons, students, volunteers and partners. As we continue to extend our reach in the community, we continue to reap the benefits of collaborating with local partners. Students studying in the Academy continue to grow, so much that we have added another studio in our new home at the Auer Center for Arts & Culture. For the first time in Fort Wayne, three arts organizations are collaborated to present their season opening, Carmina Burana. Seasons sponsors are continuing grow, with Lincoln Financial Group, Matilda Jane, Peg Perego, Arthur Murray, Jophiel, Sweetwater, OZ Strength and Conditioning, Tomkinson BMW and more have already committed to the 2012-2013 season. Our Community Engagement programs continue to expand, serving students in need in Title One Community schools and CANI Head Start programs. Thanks to you – funders, sponsors, partners, volunteers, students and patrons – we can connect the community to the art of dance, whether it’s on stage or off.

To demonstrate a connection to dance, Fort Wayne Ballet will be posting three videos,one per week, featuring students from the 2012 Summer Intensive (SI) program. Along with our SI students, the first video features former Academy student, Olivia Ross. Ross is currently studying in New York.

Thank You

Thank you! You rock! We appreciate you! 

How else can we say it? Fort Wayne Ballet’s dancers, collaborators, patrons, children, volunteers and sponsors are kind of a big deal.

Dancers: Anyone who saw the Nutcracker will tell you that our dancers, of all ages, are incredible. As one of our thank you cards read, “I am amazed at how such young people can come together and give the gift of amazement, laughter awe and splendor for those in the audience.” Bravo, dancers!

Collaborators: Fort Wayne Philharmonic, Fort Wayne Children’s Choir and Fort Wayne Animal Care and Control. Fort Wayne Ballet is honored to work with other great organizations in Fort Wayne during the production of the Nutcracker. From Sameer Patel, Assistant Conductor at the Fort Wayne Philharmonic, “You (Karen Gibbons-Brown), your staff and exceptional dancers never fail to impress me.” The hard work of all participating organizations is valued.

Patrons: It is such a warm feeling knowing that so many families in Northeast Indiana and beyond come to the Nutcracker as a holiday tradition. Thank you for including us. For first time visitors, we hope you will come again. We promise that each experience is a new one or take it from one of our patrons who thanked us for “…a most magical evening.”

Children: In case you do not know, Fort Wayne Ballet offers in-theater performances at a discounted rate for area school children, home schoolers and Easter Seal Arc participants. Participating children have a chance to interact before, during and after the show through interactive docent books, multiple stations presented by dancers and a question and answer session after the performance. During this year’s question and answer session, one darling child asked, “How do you do those awesome moves?”

Volunteers: Over 100 volunteers generously donated their time and talents for more than 1,300 hours. We mean it when we say; we could not do it without you! Thank you for everything you do to keep us moving.

Sponsors: Our sponsor list continues to grow. Thank you to Matilda Jane, Peg Perego, Steel Dynamics, Arthur Murray, Sweetwater, OZ Strength and Conditioning, WAJI and WLDE, Young’s Greenhouse and Flower Shop, Nutcracker Sweet Shoppe, Club Soda, Subway, Lebamoff’s Cap n’ Cork, Bruce Ewing, Wayne Metals and Tomkinson BMW. Your generous trust in our mission in appreciated. As always, a special thank you to our art and season sponsors: Arts United, Indiana Arts Commission, National Endowment for the Arts and Lincoln Financial Group.

So dancers, collaborators, patrons, children, volunteers and sponsors, you are not kind of a big deal – you are a big deal to Fort Wayne Ballet. THANK YOU!

Stravinsky’s The Firebird

This weekend Fort Wayne Ballet Youth Company will be presenting its first performance in the family series, Stravinsky’s The Firebird.

ImageThe Firebird is a Russian Folk Tale about Prince Ivan, who enters a magical kingdom with beautiful gardens, princesses, and strange creatures, including the Firebird. Ivan catches the Firebird but the Firebird bargains for her freedom by giving Prince Ivan one of her feathers. Should he ever be in need of her all he has to do is raise the Firebird’s magical feather and she would find him. Ivan agrees and soon comes upon five beautiful princesses trapped in the garden be the evil sorcerer Kaschei. Ivan declares his love for one of the princesses but is soon overcome by legions of horrible monsters!

Ivan is caught by Kaschei band of monsters and just before it is too late, Ivan remembers the magical feather he carries with him. He summons the Firebird who swiftly comes to his rescue and puts a spell on the monsters and Kaschei. The firebird tells Ivan to break the egg that holds all of Kaschei power and when he does the evil sorcerer crumbles and the monsters turn back into the humans they once were. Ivan and the princess are reunited and marry. They all live happily ever after.

Join us for the magical folktale Saturday, October 6th at 10am or 11:30 at the Fort Wayne Ballet Studios in the Auer Center, 300 East Main Street.

Call 260.422.4224 for tickets


Carmina Burana!

Since our move to new studios in August 2011, one of the most exciting aspects of our location in downtown Fort Wayne (aside from the incredibly beautiful atmosphere we get to work in everyday!) is that we are surrounded daily by other arts and service organizations. Our friends at Arts United are across the hall, Artlink’s exhibits are available just below us, Pembroke Bakery provides us with plenty of temptation everyday, and FAME and Fort Wayne Trails make the AuerCenter for Arts & Culture a full house!

We also have the pleasure and privilege to work with other Fort Wayne arts organizations, and our season opener is a prime example of how exciting collaboration can be! Our season opener has given us the unique opportunity to work with the Heartland Festival Chorus & Orchestra (Robert Nance, Artistic Director/Conductor) and Fort Wayne Children’s Choir (Jonathon Busarow, Artistic Director) to present Carmina Burana, a timeless masterpiece of 24 medieval poems set to Carl Orff’s lush and dynamic musical composition. These remarkable performances will provide an exciting opening to the 2012-13 season for each of these arts organizations and will highlight the talents of area and guest artists, including Fort Wayne Ballet’s professional corps of dancers and Heartland soloists Denise Bernardini, soprano, Fernando Tarango, tenor and Ryan de Ryke, baritone. The performances will take place at the Arts United Center, 303 East Main Street, on Friday, September 21 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, September 23 at 2:30 p.m.  The performances of Carmina Burana are rated PG.

Tickets for Carmina Burana, as well as for all 2012-13 performances of Fort Wayne Ballet, can be ordered by calling the Arts United box office, 260-422-4226. Each performance will be preceded by a conversation between Karen Gibbons-Brown and Robert Nance which will give the audience an inside glimpse into the production and its history. An Opening Night Reception will immediately follow the performance in the Ian Rolland Gallery and will feature delicious goodies courtesy of Club Soda as well as a chance to ask questions of those involved.  Tickets for the reception are available for $10 (adults) and $5 (children).  Please call us here at 260-484-9646 for more information! (Michele)

Fall Favorite: Johnny Appleseed

Fall is my favorite season. It is a time for leaves to change, pumpkin spice lattes, bonfires, sweatshirts, football games and apple cider or dumplings. So what better way to kick off the Fall season than to come to the number one free festival in Fort Wayne – Johnny Appleseed! There’s only one condition, you have to get your Apple Dumpling from Fort Wayne Ballet.

This year, our booth will be located in the same location as last year: booth number three, across from the Children’s Area on Harry Baals Drive. In case you can’t find us, just look for this sign…


This festival helps bring in over $25,000 to help support mission initiatives of Fort Wayne Ballet. We mean it when we say, this festival would not be possible without the help of all of our volunteers and donors. So thank you for your support. A special thank you to this year’s event chair, Missy Reiff and outgoing chair, Lou Ann Presti. Missy, I appreciate all of your hard work and I am looking forward to working with you this weekend. Lou Ann, I appreciate your patience and willingness to answer all of our questions during the transition. Also, I must recognize Meijer on Illinois for helping underwrite the cost of Apple Cider. Next time you go grocery stopping, shop at Meijer and thank them for supporting Fort Wayne Ballet.

I look forward to seeing you all there: apple dumpling in hand!