Hard Times for Ballet Tech

Article excerpt

On April 28, Eliot Feld made a surprising announcement that his company, Ballet Tech, will be suspending operations for the 2003 04 season, a total of eleven performing weeks at The Joyce Theater in Manhattan. Although Ballet Tech has been regarded as one of the most stable American dance companies, Feld explained that the decision was prompted partly by the economic hardships that have hit many dance troupes. But more important, be said, "Our principal supporter, the LuEsther T. Mertz Charitable Trust, has gradually reduced its grants to us from a high in 1994 of $822,290 (24 percent of our expenses) to a promise of $350,000 (8 percent of our expenses) in 2004." If Feld had not cancelled next season, the company, which operates on a $4 million annual budget, would have run a projected deficit of $665,000.

Despite the fact that Feld formed his dance company before he created a school, he made the difficult decision to suspend the company in order to ensure the economic strength and stability of the Ballet Tech School. "That really is the platform from which one can entertain having a company," said Feld. "We need to make the school sturdier in every way--economically, programmatically, and structurally. The school became the inevitable choice of what not to forgo. It's the substructure of the place."

The Ballet Tech School, which was founded in 1978 in partnership with the City of New York, provides dance and academic training to 135 children selected annually by audition from among 30,000 school children. …