Incorporated in 1956, it was individual families and business leaders who saw the need for quality regional ballet instruction and performances to augment an already lively arts community. Through their tireless efforts in fundraising and friend-raising, Fort Wayne Ballet was able to open its doors – then located at 1126 Broadway – for students interested in the beauty and discipline of classical dance.
As Fort Wayne Ballet’s talent and public interest grew, so did the opportunity to stage breathtaking productions. Cinderella was the first full-length ballet staged but many other notable performances were to follow – The Sleeping Beauty, Giselle, Swan Lake, Coppelia, Peter and the Wolf and, of course, The Nutcracker. Thanks to an extraordinary slate of artistic directors, guest artists and the Ballet’s own exquisitely trained dancers, Fort Wayne Ballet’s reputation as a premier dance organization has continued to grow.
Although the 1969 move from its Broadway location to Penn Avenue was meant to be temporary, the space was to serve as the home for Fort Wayne Ballet for more than four decades, the years which saw the greatest growth for the organization. Fort Wayne Ballet continues to give back to the community which brought the organization into the world. With consistent growth in class offerings, faculty, and students and an increasingly ambitious and diverse slate of annual productions and performances, serving the community has always remained an important part of the mission. Through exploratory programs, free public presentations, lecture demonstration, visiting teacher programs and in-theatre performances, the Ballet’s community engagement continues to feed the artistic appetite of the Fort Wayne and Northeast Indiana area.
Creative and unusual partnerships have also helped the Ballet to raise their community profile. Through collaborations with everyone from the Fort Wayne TinCaps to Animal Care & Control, Fort Wayne Ballet has brought home one simple message – “Everybody Dances.” It is a theme that continued to resonate as the organization moved to its new home at the Auer Center for Arts & Culture in 2011 and can be seen in its ongoing efforts to be part of the larger arts community in Fort Wayne. Its spring collaboration with the Fort Wayne Philharmonic, its efforts to find forever homes for the area’s pet population through the “Muttcracker” program, and its annual baseball card collection with the TinCaps all demonstrate how far and how profoundly those original roots in the community have spread. With its continued focus on providing quality dance education, professional productions and community engagement, Fort Wayne Ballet looks forward to its future, to more opportunities to serve well the community which has well-served it.