The Journal Gazette
Friday, August 28, 2020 1:00 am

Ballet announces slate of fall performances

COREY MCMAKEN | The Journal Gazette

Fort Wayne Ballet has announced a fall season of performances, including the world premiere of “Dracula” and annual presentation of “The Nutcracker.”

The decision bucks a trend as the pandemic has led many ballet companies across the country to cancel performances for the rest of the year, including New York City Ballet and the Joffrey Ballet based in Chicago. But director of development and marketing Jillian Schepis Lee says Fort Wayne Ballet has been working for a long time to build its presence in the local community and has become more recognized and valued in recent years.

“We didn't want to press pause on that momentum,” she says.

The organization has already had some experience returning to the stage during the pandemic. It had a chance this summer to work with new studio protocols during its Summer Intensive program which brought in about 40 students from around the country. The protocols were successful and no one got sick, Schepis Lee says. A showcase at the end of the program also gave the Ballet a look at how social distancing at Arts United Center would work for its regular season.

The Ballet will start its season with Diversions 20, a repertory show of stand-alone works, at 7 p.m. Oct. 1, 2 and 3.

Then – just in time for Halloween – the Ballet will debut “Dracula,” choreographed by Ballet Mistress Tracy Tritz of the local company. There will be performances at 7 p.m. Oct. 29, 30 and 31 and 11 p.m. Oct. 30 and 31 at Arts United Center. A preview of “Dracula” was part of last year's Diversions program.

“The Nutcracker” will be at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 4, 5, 11 and 12 and 2 p.m. Dec. 5, 6, 12 and 13 at Arts United Center. Additional dates, times and locations might be announced later, Schepis Lee says.

Subscriptions for the fall season are $110 and are available now. Single tickets go on sale Sept. 8. Go to for more information.

Fort Wayne Ballet plans for its company dancers to have a full season, including spring shows, Schepis Lee says. They begin a 30-week contract Monday.

After stay-at-home guidelines were issued in the spring, the dancers participated in their daily company activities through virtual means to complete their 2019-20 contracts. But they are now returning to the Ballet's studios in the Auer Center for Arts and Culture with new protocols that include splitting into smaller groups for their company class, which is a daily warm-up program.

The previously announced “Sleeping Beauty” with Fort Wayne Philharmonic is still on the calendar for March 26 to 28. Given the fluid nature of planning during the pandemic, Schepis Lee says specifics on spring performances will be announced later.

The Ballet's spring schedule usually includes Progressions, featuring works created by local dancers, and Fort Wayne Ballet, Too, a program offered outside a traditional theater or studio space.

Sign up for our daily headlines newsletter

Top headlines are sent daily