Cedar Lake Will Shut Down

March 22, 2015

It was the shot heard ’round the dance world: On Friday, Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet announced that this will be the company’s final season. A notice on its website says that the troupe will still fulfill its Boston and Brooklyn performances, though its upcoming audition and Cedar Lake 180º summer program have been cancelled. No other details about the closure were released.


Walmart heiress and dancegoer Nancy Laurie opened Cedar Lake 12 years ago. Two seasons later, Benoit Swan Pouffer signed on as artistic director. He originally tried to be the main choreographic voice for the company, but soon set that formula aside to mold it into a repertoire troupe. Since then, it has become a house for European dance in the U.S., commissioning choreographers like Ohad Naharin, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Johan Inger and Hofesh Shechter. In 2013, Pouffer left the company to pursue outside choreographic projects. Ballet master Alexandra Damiani took the lead in the interim, before officially becoming artistic director nearly a year later.

Cedar Lake provided its dancers with stability that most artists can only dream of: a 52-week contract with international touring, health insurance, an incredible tailor-made space in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood. Currently, it employs 14 dancers and two apprentices. It’s scary to think that even the most seemingly secure dance jobs aren’t completely safe. (Though don’t lose hope for dance! Many companies, like Ballet San Jose, which is in the midst of a do-or-die re-visioning, fight on.)

Dancers I’ve talked to about Cedar Lake first and foremost express sadness to lose a New York City company that has skillfully performed rep rarely seen on this side of the Atlantic. Their immediate second thought? “Ugh. That’s just more talented competition I’ll have to face come audition season.”