Ballet Oklahoma struggles to stay on its feet

Tuesday, July 22nd 2008, 7:36 pm
By: News 9

By Alex Cameron, NEWS 9

The Ballet Oklahoma is an organization known for being on its toes, but has had trouble financially just staying on its feet.

Ballet has a rich history in Oklahoma. The state produced some of the country's best-known ballerinas, and is home to two professional companies, the Tulsa Ballet and the metro's Ballet Oklahoma.

The Ballet Oklahoma fell on hard times in recent years after ticket sales dropped and donations failed to meet the company's financial shortcomings. The organization went into debt.

Robert Mills, Ballet Oklahoma's new interim artistic director, was named to the position Monday night, after the board of directors weighed an offer by the Tulsa Ballet to merge with them.

"Simple business, the money wasn't coming in, but the money was going out," Mills said. "I think Oklahoma City is capable of having its own ballet company."

The Ballet Oklahoma needs to raise $1.1 million in order to stage four productions next season, one of which is the traditional holiday favorite, the Nutcracker.

"We've got a lot of calls from people in the last couple of days saying ‘You can't get rid of this. This is our family tradition'," former ballerina Viktoria Page said.

Page now runs the company's dance school and said it's important that the community protect its performing arts.

"It's gonna be difficult to make it work," Page said. "A lot of money needs to be raised. I think we have a lot of support, with the school and within the community."

Mills said he's dedicated to getting the company back on its feet and dancing again.