New York-Caliber Ballet in Fort Wayne

The Fort Wayne Ballet Company is celebrating its 65th anniversary this year and is building upon its reputation as a big-city company in a mid-sized town.

“A lot goes on here and people are always surprised at the quality we offer,” says Jim Sparrow, executive director. “Most people don’t know we attract professional dancers from all over the world.”

Professional ballet dancers from Australia, Japan, Cuba, Columbia and across the USA have been hired to come to Fort Wayne and work with its ballet.

The company includes 18 professional dancers who perform leading roles and 20 local college-age and older trainees in the corps de ballet.

Auer Academy of Fort Wayne Ballet, for ages 3 through adult, is now in its 10th year and enrolls about 250 students each year. It recently achieved prestigious American Ballet Theater (ABT) certification. This means local students are receiving the same nine-level, goal-based artistic training curriculum as dancers in New York City, says Sparrow.

All Fort Wayne dance instructors took two years to complete the training.

“We take our training seriously and this certification gives us a seal of authenticity,” says Sparrow. “What’s beautiful about the curriculum is that it focuses on each dancer’s ability and aspirations to help them reach the optimum level of success, safely.”

The ballet company hasn’t stopped teaching or performing because of the pandemic. Classes were taught online and scheduling more frequent performances this fall kept crowd sizes down.

Virtual and live performances are planned for upcoming months, including “Love Notes 2021,” a virtual performance featuring some of the most famous love duets in dance, Feb. 13-21.

Other virtual and live productions are being planned for spring. For the first time ever, the season will continue into late spring and summer with three to five outdoor productions held in locations throughout northern Indiana. Dates and times will be announced in late May.

Fort Wayne Ballet’s original rendition of “The Nutcracker” is listed as one of the Top 5 Must-See Nutcracker performances by the “Wall Street Journal.”

“We present the highest quality of varied repertoire from classical to contemporary, storybook ballets to original and commissioned works including masterpices from the Stierle Trust and the Gerald Alpino Foundation,” says Sparrow.

The high-caliber ballet company is just one reason people moving to Fort Wayne are pleasantly surprised by the quality they find in the community. A rapidly growing downtown, riverfront development, trails, museums, seasonal festivals, a lively art scene and a world-class zoo all add up to an enriching quality of life.

For more information about performance schedules and ticket prices, call (260) 484-9646 or stop in at 300 E. Main St., Fort Wayne. ❚