Charleston’s art community suffered another tragic loss Friday morning. Robert Ivey, a key figure in the city’s dance community, died following a long illness.

Ivey founded the Robert Ivey Ballet Company, the dance company in residence at the College of Charleston, in 1978. He served as artistic director there as well as at the Footlight Players Theatre. The company received the Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Award from the S.C. Arts Commission for artistic excellence in 1987.

“Bob was an incredibly gifted man. But he was even more then that. He was an unbelievable friend,” says the Footlight Players’ Executive Director Jocelyn Jenkins. “He gave great advice and insight as well as had the funniest stories to make you laugh and turn your mood around. And you never heard stories more then once because he had so many good ones.

“One thing I will always remember and cherish about Bob is that he believed in me, in everyone. When it seemed like no one would give you a chance or listen to you he would look you in the eyes and say, ‘You can do it. You are doing the right thing and I have your back.’ And of course, everything would work out and be better than expected. He pushed me to see things could be bigger and better. I have learned so much from him and have grown in ways I never knew. There is definitely a hole that is left because he is no longer with us, but I know my life is better because he was my friend.”

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