Sac Ballet lays off dancers, dancers keep dancing

—by Jim Carnes

The Sacramento Ballet has laid off all its dancers for the remainder of their contracts (three weeks) and canceled the “Beer and Ballet” performances that would have closed the season later this month. The dancers, for their part, have founded the new Capital Dance Project to present their own show, “Beyond the Barre,” May 30 at the Crest Theatre.

“The fact is, if we had had three weeks of payroll, we wouldn’t have had to take this action,” said Nancy Garton, president of the ballet’s board of directors. “The Big Day of Giving was May 5, but we won’t get the money until the end of June,” she said. (The ballet received $51,626 from 331 donations.)

“But the story should not be about debt,” Garton said. “It should be about bringing this art to the community.”

To that end, the dancers of the ballet company, en masse, created the Capital Dance Project

“We were sad to not be able to put on ‘Beer and Ballet’—sad for us and for the public,” dancer Alexandra Cunningham said. “It’s been a dream of the Sacramento Ballet dancers to have a summer company,” she said, adding that the dancers have three months off between the contract end of one season and the beginning of the next. 

“A lot of the dancers have summer gigs lined up for this year,” dancer Stefan Calka said. “For this season it will be just this project. But hopefully, in the future, it will be possible that we can offer a supplemental summer dance contract.”

The dance project’s website states: “It has been a longtime dream of the Sacramento Ballet dancers to form an independent summer dance project and recent events have catapulted this dream into a reality.”

“We are working to elevate the spirit of the community through the performing arts,” the dancers say on the website. “The Capital Dance Project represents the fulfillment of their shared dream of creating a dancer-run company to keep Sacramento audiences inspired by dance through the summer season.”

The dancers “all pulled together to create (the new) group,” Calka said. “We’ve put the show together in about five days with a lot of the dances already made for ‘Beer and Ballet’.”

The ballet board is “thrilled that they (the dancers) have taken this initiative,” Garton said.

A group of the dancers attended the ballet board of directors meeting Tuesday to assure board members “This is not an effort to distance ourselves from the organization, but an opportunity to draw the community’s attention away from the financial difficulties of the Ballet, and toward an interesting new project.”

The Capital Dance Project’s “Beyond the Barre” will be presented on Saturday, May 30 at the Crest Theater, 1013 K Street. Doors open at 1:30 p.m., and the event also features  a cash bar, live music and local art. The dance performance will begin at 3 p.m. General admission is $25. For more information and a link to purchase tickets, go to To donate to the group’s Crowdrise crowdfunding page, click here.

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