The most wonderful time of the year has arrived! December is meant for staying warm in your comfiest clothes, rejoicing in the dazzling lights and celebrating traditions with family and friends. One of those well-loved traditions is the holiday classic The Nutcracker.
Fort Wayne Ballet has worked hard to bring the magic back to our community through an enchanting journey to the Kingdom of Sweets with Clara, the Nutcracker and the Sugar Plum Fairy. Relive the beauty and wonder of childhood with the ballet this winter as they celebrate their 65th anniversary.
Chief Development Officer Clarissa Reis shared what this 65th season – and the art of dance – means to the team at Fort Wayne Ballet, Indiana’s longest-standing professional ballet company. This gem, for a city this size, has been with us for six decades. And the ballet strives to use its platform to reach more people with each passing year.
Their mission is to “feed the spirit and spark the imagination through the highest caliber professional and academy performances, dance training and community engagement.” The team at FW Ballet has taken many steps to embrace their mission since 1956, but, most importantly, they focus on making dance accessible to everyone, whether it’s as a consumer of the arts or as a dancer.
“There is a desire to leverage ballet as a way to help people open new doors. And Fort Wayne Ballet uses it as an opportunity to pour into its dancers and give them the confidence and opportunities to do things,” Reis said. They offer classes through a partnership with the YMCA; jazz, tap, hip hop, modern or ballet instruction; and drop-in evening classes for teens and adults whose interest has only begun to be piqued.
There is no “right time” to start dancing, whether you think you are ready to don pointe shoes or you simply want to welcome your body’s natural inclination to move. “The art of dancing is for everyone,” she said.
“I think that dance is just something that we all have innately. It’s a matter of having an opportunity to cultivate that and really bring it out,” said Reis. “It’s a way of communicating and we all have an ability to move our bodies.”
Our community has learned a lot in the past year – about ourselves, one another and how we fit together to form our community. FW Ballet was no exception to these revelations.
This past year made Reis realize that people do not always feel confident enough, or capable of, using their natural self-expression without judgment or without it needing to be created for something.
“I find it dispiriting that a large percentage of people, myself included, are often hindered from getting lost
in sound out of fear of what others might think,” she said.
This is exactly what continues to push the 501c3 organization forward – an unavoidable desire to ensure everyone knows they are allowed and encouraged to take up space in the dance world no matter who they are or how skilled they might be.
The momentum of the group is largely due to Artistic Director Karen Gibbons-Brown, who has been with FW Ballet for 23 years. Her hopes for the organization keep her planning two years ahead. “She’s steps ahead of the rest of us and we’re here to help execute that vision,” Reis said of the artistic director.
Fort Wayne Ballet has long since made a name for itself, but its efforts have pivoted the way people perceive the professional company and Auer Academy. The team at the ballet has attracted international students, dancers and instructors to this gem our city houses. “We are actually more internationally known than we are locally known,” said Ross.
Another factor in the ballet’s continued success is the support it receives from many of its original contributors. The first ballet that the organization performed was Cinderella, and many of the original performers are still here enjoying the ballet today.
The future of the company looks bright. See for yourself by viewing a ballet from their repertory, main stage or family series. 300 E. Main Street, 260.484.9646, fortwayneballet.org
December 3 – 12: The Nutcracker & Kris Kringle Village, Fort Wayne Ballet. Arts United Center. 260.484.9646. fortwayneballet.org
December 3 – 18: Dashing Through the Snow, Arena Dinner Theatre. 260.422.4226, arenadinnertheatre.org
December 6: Home for the Holidays Concert, Purdue Fort Wayne School of Music Choral Ensembles and University & Community Orchestra. 7:30 pm, Auer Performance Hall. 260.481.6555,
December 7: A Motown Christmas, 8 pm, Embassy Theatre. 260.424.5665, fwembassytheatre.org
December 10 – 19: Elf Jr. The Musical, Fort Wayne Youtheatre. First Presbyterian Church. 260.422.4226, fortwayneyoutheatre.org/elf-jr
December 10 – 19: Holiday Pops, Fort Wayne Philharmonic. Embassy Theatre. 260.481.0770, fwphil.org
December 12: A Nashville Family Christmas, 7 pm, Clyde Theatre. 260.747.0989, clydetheatre.com
December 16 & 17: Christmas by Candlelight, Fort Wayne Philharmonic. 7:30 pm, First Wayne Street United Methodist Church. 260.481.0770, fwphil.org
December 17: Christmas with David Phelps, 7:30 pm, First Assembly of God. 260.490.8585, wbcl.org/event/christmas-with-david-phelps