After a slew of financial, departmental, plagiaristic, and other related difficulties over the past few years, Charleston’s premiere professional ballet studio, Charleston Ballet Theatre, called it quits back in February, leaving many dancers unemployed and Charleston stripped of a major contributor to its dance community. Additionally, the studio’s demise seems to have affected the dance portions of this year’s Piccolo Spoleto, the locally run segment of the renowned arts festival. For the first time that we’re aware of, there will not be a specifically designated dance series and very little traditional ballet seen at the festival.
“The people who ran the dance series just aren’t operating this year,” says Piccolo’s artistic director Ellen Moryl. Moryl adds, that in addition to Charleston Ballet Theatre’s absence, that Piccolo will also not work with Robert Ivey Ballet this year, a company that they have enjoyed including in the past. She did not explain the details of this change, but we can speculate that Robert Ivey’s passing in July 2011 may be a factor.
However, there are other additional causes that have led to these changes in the festival. “This is a year of transition,” says Moryl. “We have a terrific new director of the department, Scott Watson, who is adding a lot of new exciting elements.” Moryl explained that though there may not be a surplus of traditional ballet performances or a dance series per se, there will be many dance events for patrons to enjoy. “There are going to be a lot of dance shows, just not a specific dance series like before,” she says. “At the end, there’s going to be a surprise finale with Charleston dancers that’s going to knock your socks off.”