Ballet used to be a rather dull business. Lots of attention paid to form and line, but little paid to theatricality. Even the dress code, for male dancers, was kinda boring: They used to wear frumpy trunks. Think the blowin’-in-the-wind shorts of the NBA.

That changed when Rudolf Nureyev, the great Russian star and Soviet defector, insisted on wearing tights. From that point on, thanks to his celebrity, tights became the convention. Ticket sales soared.

Call it the power of package appeal.

Theatricality is why Kyle W. Barnette, the new public relations and marketing guru for the Charleston Ballet Theatre, decided to return to the Holy City.

In the 1990s, he interned with the Charleston Stage Company. He worked for theater companies in Atlanta and Memphis as an actor, musician, and dancer. During that time, he also discovered a talent for communications, marketing, and fundraising.

“I realized I liked doing the administrative stuff as much as I liked acting,” Barnette said. “I can relate to the artistic side and the administrative side.”

Indeed, a highly marketable combination.

He chose Charleston because of its beauty, but also because of CBT’s penchant for theatrical performances. It’s not just dancing, he said. There’s make-up and costumes and more. It’s entertainment.

The real issue, however, is not whether he can raise cash or awareness for the company’s upcoming performance of Peter Pan on Oct. 26 at the Sottile Theatre. It’s about ultimately taking the measure of a man based on his decision: tights or no tights.
“No,” he said. “You don’t have to wear tights.”

For more, visit www.charlestonballet.org. ­—John Stoehr


Here’s a bit of micro-history for you. Sherman E. Pyatt, a librarian at South Carolina State University, wrote a book about Burke High School. It explores educational issues facing African Americans in Charleston. The author gives a lecture and book signing on Oct. 25 at 6:30 p.m. at the John L. Dart Library. For more, call (843) 722-7550. ­­­­­—John Stoehr


South Carolina Young Poet’s Prize is inviting poets ages of 14 and 19 to participate. To be a contestant, send three to five original, unpublished poems to USC by Oct. 31. The judge is Dinah Johnson. Winners announced Nov. 17. Call (803) 777-2374 or visit www.splitp.org. —John Stoehr