Facing Competition Nearby, Ballet Florida Leaps Into Growth Mode

Classic Arts News   Facing Competition Nearby, Ballet Florida Leaps Into Growth Mode
The 21-year-old Ballet Florida is making leaps and bounds to raise its profile and build its audience. With the powerhouse Miami City Ballet now competing on Ballet Florida's own Palm Beach turf, the smaller troupe is working on branding itself as the "premiere professional dance company of the Palm Beaches."

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports that Ballet Florida has hired a marketing director, for the first time, and a development director, which the company hasn't had for two years. A public relations star, Debbie Wemyss, came from the Palm Beach Zoo, and Stacey Crespo from Motorola is joining the marketing and development teams. "What we will have is the A-Team, with an experience level several-fold more experienced than we've ever had before," Sal Faso, Ballet Florida's interim executive director, told the newspaper.

Although company officials told the Sun-Sentinel that the changes it is making are not motivated by outside factors, the newspaper observed that the Miami City Ballet is doing very well — very nearby. MCB has expanded its presence in Palm Beach County by adding more shows at the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts, one of Ballet Florida's two venues.

Yet MCB has contributed to dance attendance at the Kravis Center generally: total tickets sold reached 25,529 at 25 performances during the past season.

While the two companies are competing head-to-head in the same location, one could believe and hope that hardcore fans would come to see both companies perform. But one can't be certain of that. Faso made the point that "the audience for classical dance is smaller than any other art form so you don't have as many people to choose from when you're trying to grow your audience."

Marie Hale, founder and artistic director of Ballet Florida and its school, Academy of Ballet Florida, says the more the merrier when it comes to quality dance: "I don't feel another dance company is competition as long as you're good, she told the Sun-Sentinel. "The more dance you see, the more you want to see."

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