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Ballet Kelowna's artistic director had no idea the company would fold

The show will go on for Ballet Kelowna, an announcement that the ballet will not bail out of its 10th anniversary season was made Thursday afternoon - Doug Farrow
The show will go on for Ballet Kelowna, an announcement that the ballet will not bail out of its 10th anniversary season was made Thursday afternoon
— image credit: Doug Farrow

The artistic director and founding creative presence behind Ballet Kelowna, dancer David LaHay, had just one day's notice that the company would close its doors he told a town hall meeting Wednesday.

LaHay's impending retirement was named as one of the two reasons the company would fold—initially before even completing its tenth anniversary tour—when the initial statement was made to the press a week ago Friday, with finances listed as the other contributing factor.

Yet LaHay confirmed his retirement was not for another year at least when he stood to speak an hour and a half into an emotional meeting Wednesday evening intended for the community to help find a path forward for the company.

"It's really like trying to resurrect something from the dead," said LaHay, confirming he too wants the legacy he's built to survive beyond the end of March.

"…It's a ticking time bomb. Once the word is out, why would (anyone) give us money," he pointed out.

Noting venues that had previously asked the company back annually would now be gun shy in the face of the company's own statements suggesting it is on shaky financial ground, LaHay warned those gathered any action would have to be immediate.

Three members of the board of directors that authorized the decision to close the company's doors opened the floor for the very annoyed room of dance fans, but otherwise remained mum as supporters tried to express their shock and dismay.

The manner in which the decision was made, a surprise announcement in the press that neglected to inform the society's members there was a serious problem first, was repeatedly cited as a critical tactical mistake.

The company was said to be just five per cent behind in its budget by those who spoke but, the meeting offered no solid facts or figures behind the decision.

This Friday's Close Up feature will present the arguments made for keeping the company, the artistic community's reaction, the risk trying to save a publicly defaced company poses and where the entire conflagration is headed from here.

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