Ballet Kelowna’s April 9 performance at the Revelstoke Performing Arts Centre will be a milestone, marking the end of company founding director David LaHay’s tenure with the company.
LaHay is retiring, after stewarding the company from its founding in 2002 through an extremely difficult period in 2013, when the company was on the brink of bankruptcy.
The company’s directors announced plans to close their doors, which prompted a community rally to support the Okanagan region’s professional dance company.
New sponsors came on board, and grassroots groups sprung up, including – as a pointer to Revelstoke dance enthusiasts – the Friends of Ballet Kelowna in Golden, B.C.
“It was wonderful,” LaHay said of the rally to support the company. With the financial future clearer, the board opted to continue on.
LaHay said he’d always planned retirement for about now: “I think it’ s time to have some new ideas and have some progression,” he told the Times Review. “We have gone thorough a difficult past year.”
The board has a new combined CEO/Artistic Director position advertised.
Although they’re through a critical period, LaHay encouraged Revelstokians to think about what live performances mean to young ballet dancers.
If your child played hockey, you’d take them to professional games, he said. Young dancers need live performances, too. For dancers in Interior communities that Ballet Kelowna serves, their touring show is often the only live dance performance youngsters will see all year.
He encourages Revelstoke dance enthusiasts to take out a membership with the company.
On April 9, Ballet Kelowna presents a series of short pieces.
David LaHay has partnered with Okanagan jazz musician Neville Bowman to created Redux Continuum, which tells the story of what happens if a ballet master left the classroom. LaHay uses unconventional staging to create his piece.
Ballet Kelowna will bring back choreographer Simone Orlando’s I Remember You, a piece that was first commissioned by Ballet Kelowna. Orlando, whose grandfather served as a navigator in the Royal Canadian Air Force’s campaign against Nazi Germany, tells the heartbreaking true story of Resistance efforts to shelter and liberate downed Allied fliers through an underground network in Europe.
Ballet Kelowna alumna Raelynn Heppell presents the humorous #weddingdayproblems featuring music by Etta James.
The performance also features choreographer Brian Macdonald’s Tam Ti Delam.
The show at the Revelstoke Performing Arts Centre starts at 7:30 p.m. at the Revelstoke Performing Arts Centre. Tickets are available at the door or through the RPAC website.
[Disclosure: Aaron Orlando is the brother of Simone Orlando, a choreographer of one of the pieces.