After Abbreviated Comeback, Oakland Ballet Shuts Down for Good

Classic Arts News   After Abbreviated Comeback, Oakland Ballet Shuts Down for Good
Oakland Ballet, which revived a series of important but neglected works over its 40-year history, will dissolve, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

After canceling the 2004 season because of financial problems, the company returned in fall 2005, performing two mixed programs and founder Ronn Guidi's version of the The Nutcracker to acclaim. But the comeback was short-lived.

According to the Chronicle, the company fell short of sales goals for the 2005 season. Meanwhile, the Calvin Simmons Theater, where its most recent performances took place, went out of business.

"We looked at all the angles and it was financially impossible to mount another season," board president Linda Crayton said.

Founded in 1965, Oakland Ballet drew national attention with its reconstructions of American works such as Eugene Loring's setting of Aaron Copland's Billy the Kid and works from Serge Diaghilev's Ballets Russes, including Bronislava Nijinska's Les Biches and Les Noces.

Guidi retired in 2000 and was replaced by Karen Brown, a former principal dancer with Dance Theatre of Harlem. But Brown was hobbled by financial problems, particularly after the economic downturn of 2001, in carrying out her plans for the troupe.

In April 2004, facing a $250,000 deficit, the group laid off its dancers and canceled the 2004 season. At the time, officials said that they would shut down the company entirely if it could not raise $500,000 by May 31 of that year. The company missed that deadline, but did eventually raise the funds it needed to return in 2005.

In an interview with the Chronicle, Guidi said he was disappointed, but not surprised, by the demise of the company. "My life's work is not gone," he pointed out. "The Joffrey Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, the Royal Ballet, and the Kirov all dance these works we brought back."

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