The Journal Gazette
Friday, July 31, 2020 1:50 pm

Ballet showcase dances through power outage

COREY MCMAKEN | The Journal Gazette

A power outage that affected parts of downtown Fort Wayne on Friday morning stopped the show for Fort Wayne Ballet's Summer Intensive – but not for long.

The showcase of young dancers had just begun at Arts United Center when power went out shortly after 10 a.m. and the theater was left in the dark. But a Ballet staff member noticed that power was still on at the Fort Wayne Museum of Art just next door on Arts Campus Fort Wayne and within minutes a series of heavy-duty extension cords were run from the museum into the Arts United Center to provide power for the sound system.

Battery-powered lights were brought up from backstage at the theater, and ushers stood along the seats with flashlights. A laptop provided the music being piped into the sound system, and the Ballet had people standing in the wings using the lights on their cellphones to help dancers see where they were going when they were offstage.

Thanks to the quick problem solving, it only took about 15 minutes to get the show back up and running, says executive director Jim Sparrow.

"It actually turned out surprisingly well," he says.

Members of the audience – about 100 people spaced out according to social distancing guidelines – were also able to use the lights on their cellphones, which created the sort of effect you might see at a rock concert, says Ballet communications and marketing manager Marcia Hetrick.

"Everyone pulled together extremely quickly and pushed forward," she says, adding that one of the dancers said the effect created by the improvised lighting made it seem like they were in a dream.

The showcase came at the end of the Summer Intensive, a four week program where students from around the country attended classes at Fort Wayne Ballet on subjects including modern dance, ballet, history and wellness. The Ballet was the first group to use Arts United Center's theater for a public performance under new pandemic protocols.

The power outage affected several downtown businesses and Promenade Park.

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