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Indianapolis Gets a New Ballet Company

Chris Lingner and Kristin Young in front of the Tobias Theatre. Photo by Moonbug Photography, Courtesy Indianapolis Ballet.

In 2005, Indianapolis' only professional ballet company, Ballet Internationale, shut down. Victoria Lyras, a former Pennsylvania Ballet dancer who had recently relocated to the city, was distressed by the state of Indianapolis' art scene and saw a chance to rejuvenate it. Within two months she started making plans to found the Indianapolis School of Ballet, an institution that's thrived under her leadership. Eleven years later, Lyras is ready to complete her vision, by adding a professional company. "The community wasn't ready before," says Lyras. "But the time is now."

Victoria Lyras. Photo by Moonbug Photography, Courtesy Indianapolis Ballet.


Lyras and board president Michael O'Brien announced plans in May, setting a $1.2 million capital campaign into motion. Set to launch on January 8, Indianapolis Ballet will have 10 to 12 dancers as well as apprentices. The school's advanced day program will provide supplemental dancers for some performances. The ensemble will feature former Cincinnati Ballet dancer Chris Lingner and ISB alumna and former Nashville Ballet dancer Kristin Young, both Indianapolis natives. The company's spring season will include two residencies at the Tobias Theatre at Newfields. Program highlights include Raymonda, Act III, and Lyras' own stagings of Firebird and A Midsummer Night's Dream. Lyras, who trained at the School of American Ballet, plans to eventually incorporate more Balanchine works into the repertoire, but notes that, as her dancers come from many different backgrounds, she wants to give the company a chance to mesh stylistically.


Ballet Careers
Gray Davis with wife, ABT soloist Cassandra Trenary, after his graduation from the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy. Courtesy Trenary.

When Gray Davis retired from American Ballet Theatre in July of 2018, he moved home to South Carolina, unsure of what would come next. Last month, just over a year later, Davis graduated from the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy. Today, he's working as a deputy for the Abbeville County Sheriff's Office.

Though Davis danced in ABT's corps for 11 years and is married to soloist Cassandra Trenary, to many he's best known for saving the life of a man who was pushed onto the subway tracks in New York City in 2017. The heroic effort earned him the New York State Liberty Medal, the highest civilian honor bestowed by a member of the New York State Senate. We caught up with Davis to hear about how the split second decision he made in the subway affected the course of his life, what it's been like starting a second career and what he sees as the similarities between ballet and law enforcement.

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Sponsored by BLOCH
Courtesy BLOCH

Today's ballet dancer needs a lot from a pointe shoe. "What I did 20 years ago is not what these dancers are doing now," says New York City Ballet shoe manager Linnette Roe. "They are expected to go harder, longer days. They are expected to go from sneakers, to pointe shoes, to character shoes, to barefoot and back to pointe shoes all in a day."

The team at BLOCH developed their line of Stretch Pointe shoes to address dancer's most common complaints about the fit and performance of their pointe shoes. "It's a scientific take on the pointe shoe," says Roe. Dancers are taking notice and Stretch Pointe shoes are now worn by stars like American Ballet Theatre principal Isabella Boylston, who stars in BLOCH's latest campaign for the shoes.

We dug into the details of Stretch Pointe's most game-changing features:

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Ballet Stars
Megan Amanda Ehrlich, Courtesy LEAP Program

Claire Sheridan wanted to change the status quo. Leading up to the 1990s, she recalls, "there was a 'shut up and dance' mind-set," and as the founder of the dance program at St. Mary's College of California and a longtime teacher in professional companies, she had seen too many dancers retire with no plan for a successful career transition. "At that time, if you thought about education and the future," she says, "you were not a committed dancer. I wanted to fight that."

With the support of St. Mary's, Sheridan developed the Liberal Education for Arts Professionals program, or LEAP, an innovative liberal-arts bachelor's degree program designed especially for professional dancers. She first presented her idea to executives at San Francisco Ballet. "Kudos to that company, because they said, 'This is great,'" she says. "Eleven of the first 18 dancers who started in August 1999 were from SFB."

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Ballet Training
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I'm a college freshman, and my dance program isn't challenging enough. We only have ballet three times a week and a few hours of modern, and my classmates aren't as dedicated as I am. There's a small dance company nearby, where I was hoping to take extra classes, but I don't have a car. I want to transfer, but I feel like I won't be in good enough shape for auditions. —Tara

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