Laid-Off Dancers Go DIY

May 20, 2015

What do you do when your company cancels the rest of its season? Put on your own show, of course! 


At least that’s what a group of Sacramento Ballet dancers are planning. Last week, the company laid off all of its dancers for the final three weeks of its 2014–15 season, canceling its popular “Beer and Ballet” series. Board chairwoman Nancy Garton told the Sacramento Bee that the company was forced to make the decision because it was $80,000 short of paying those three weeks’ worth of salaries. 


But—unsurprisingly—the dancers still wanted to perform. So they created their own pickup troupe called Capital Dance Project, and quickly organized an alternate concert, dubbed “Behind the Barre: A Locally Crafted Event.” It will take place May 30 at Sacramento’s Crest Theatre, featuring the majority of the eclectic, dancer-choreographed works that would have been performed at “Beer and Ballet.” They’re now rehearsing in donated studio space, and have raised over $8,000 from donors. For the event, they’ve signed on local visual artists Raphael Delgado and Jose Di Gregorio to show their work, and sponsor New Helvetica Brewing Co. to provide drinks (hence, the “locally crafted” pun of the title). 


Arts organizations throughout the Sacramento region have been struggling recently, since a lack of corporations in the area means arts companies have to rely on individual donors and ticket sales for funding. However, Sacramento Ballet plans to be back this fall once next season’s subscription revenue plus $51,626 from a recent fundraiser come in. 


For their part, the dancers told the Sacramento Bee they’d been thinking of putting together a pickup troupe to perform during summer layoffs for awhile. However unfortunate, this turn of events just gave them the boost they needed to actually make it happen.