DeHaan recognizes young ballet company

DeHaan recognizes young ballet company The story behind the gift:

Indiana Ballet Co. and its affiliated dance school began after the city’s longserving professional company suddenly folded.

Executive Director Russ Smith said that convincing donors to back ballet once more has been difficult, but that might change after the company received a $30,000 gift from the Christel DeHaan Family Foundation.

Foundation Director Melynne Klaus said the foundation has observed Indiana Ballet Co. since its inception in late 2005. The company was invited to apply for a grant, which will support general operations.

“Their quality of performance and quality of dancers was excellent,” she said.

The DeHaan foundation had been a major supporter of Ballet Internationale, but that 32-year-old organization’s failure did not color the foundation’s view of the new company, Klaus said.

Smith’s wife, Alyona Yakovleva, is the artistic director of Indiana Ballet Co. and the head of its affiliated Russian Ballet Academy of Indiana. Smith hopes the DeHaan gift will add momentum to the company’s fund raising and allow him to hire more dancers this fall.

Yakovleva was a teacher with the Clara R. Noyes Academy of Ballet Internationale when it closed. She and Smith started the Russian academy and later formed the professional company. Several of IBC’s dancers are also formerly affiliated with Ballet Internationale.

Smith said the academy is an important component of the organization. All the professional dancers teach, and their students may one day join their ranks.

Tuesday Mayhew has already followed that track. After graduating from the Russian Ballet Academy, she went to Milwaukee Ballet as a trainee. She returned in 2007 to join IBC and teach at the academy.

Smith said the DeHaan grant will allow Mayhew and Sergey Sergiev to work through the summer, rather than ending their contracts in mid-June.

“It gives us the ability for these two dancers to maintain a presence around our children as mentors and role models,” Smith said.

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Know of a gift that IBJ should feature? Contact Kathleen McLaughlin at kmclaughlin@ibj.com.

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