Arts heavyweights to launch new ballet company-WEB ONLY

Leading local arts backers Jane Fortune and Robert Hesse are the driving forces behind Indianapolis City Ballet, a new professional dance company, IBJ learned this morning.

Indianapolis has been without a high-profile professional ballet company
since Ballet Internationale folded in November 2005 with $1 million in debt.

Hesse has been working on the concept and raising money since November 2007, but the exact amount was not disclosed. The company also would not say how many productions it plans.

City Ballet spokeswoman Tess Green said Fortune and Hesse would not talk about their plans until an April 15 press conference, where they’ll introduce an “artistic chairman.”

Green said the new group would not follow the traditional business model for ballet companies.

Hesse will serve as a volunteer executive director, working closely with the artistic director. Hesse, who is in his 70s, has years of experience in the arts and not-for-profit world. He was executive director of the Joffrey Ballet, a famed Chicago ballet company, in the 1980s, and has been chief development officer at the U.S. Committee for UNICEF.

Hesse serves on the advisory board at IUPUI’s Herron School of Art alongside Fortune, who also is a trustee at the Indianapolis Museum of Art.

Green said the new company has no ties to Ballet Internationale, but local arts supporters encouraged Hesse to help professional ballet re-emerge in the city.

The company hopes to employ a dozen dancers, but not all of them have been hired.

The new company is planning a gala event Sept. 12 at the Murat Theatre. Green said the gala will feature “international ballet stars.”

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