Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet Announces It Will Close

Cedar Lake's Matthew Rich, center

The dance world got some particularly sad news this past weekend: Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet is closing unexpectedly and abruptly. The company has released few details, saying only that it will fulfill two upcoming performances (Boston in May and NYC’s BAM in June). An audition this month has been canceled, as has the company’s highly selective summer intensive.

From the beginning, Cedar Lake functioned very differently from most other dance companies. It was founded in 2003 by Wal-Mart heiress Nancy Walton Laurie, niece of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton. Cedar Lake became one of the few companies to offer a year-round, 52-week contract to its dancers, as well as health benefits (equally rare). But apparently, the company’s idiosyncrasies could be harsh, too: Dancers were fined if late to class or if they messed up onstage.

Here’s hoping the company’s 14 dancers and two apprentices find equally fulfilling dance jobs! In the meantime, we hope to learn more about the reasons behind the company’s closing.

Did you get a chance to see the company perform over the last decade? What was your favorite piece? (I saw Cedar Lake at BAM last year and loved Alexander Ekman’s Tuplet, which required the dancers to perform whatever an unseen narrator demanded. It made for some very funny dancing.)

Photo by Julieta Cervantes, courtesy of BAM

Teachers Trending
Maks and Val Chmerkovskiy. Photo courtesy Dance With Me

Listening to Maks and Val Chmerkovskiy riff together makes it crystal-clear why each has mastered the art of partnering in the ballroom—they've long been doing this dance in real life as brothers and business partners.

Along with their "Dancing with the Stars" pedigree (and a combined three mirror-ball trophies between them), Maks and Val (and their father, Sasha) also run Dance With Me, a dance company hosting six ProAm Dancesport competitions annually and running 14 brick-and-mortar studio locations across the U.S.

Last year, the pair launched an online component, Dance & Co. The online video platform offers beginner through advanced instruction in not only ballroom but an array of other styles, as well as dance fitness classes from HIIT to yoga to strength training. "DWTS" fans will recognize such familiar faces as Peta Murgatroyd, Jenna Johnson, Sharna Burgess and Emma Slater, along with Maks and Val themselves.

Keep reading... Show less
Teaching Tips
@jayplayimagery, courtesy Kerollis

In the spring of 2012, Barry Kerollis was abruptly forced into treating his career as a small business. Having just moved cross-country to join BalletX, he got injured and was soon let go.

"I'd only ever danced with big companies before," the now-freelance dance-teacher-choreographer-podcaster recalls. "That desperation factor drove me to approach freelancing with a business model and a business plan."

As Kerollis acknowledges, getting the business of you off the ground ("you" as a freelance dance educator, that is) can be filled with unexpected challenges—even for the most seasoned of gigging dancers. But becoming your own CEO can make your work–life balance more sustainable, help you make more money, keep you organized, and get potential employers to offer you more respect and improved working conditions. Here's how to get smart now about branding, finances and other crucial ways to tell the dance world that you mean business.

Keep reading... Show less
Teachers Trending
Courtesy Oleson

American dance educator Shannon Oleson was teaching recreational ballet and street-dance classes in London when the pandemic hit. As she watched many of her fellow U.S. friends pack up and return home from their international adventures, she made the difficult choice to stick with her students (as well as her own training—she was midway through her MFA at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance).

Despite shutdowns and shelter-in-place orders, she was able to maintain a teaching schedule that kept her working with her dancers through Zoom, as well as lead some private, in-home acro classes following government guidelines. But keeping rec students interested in the face of pandemic fatigue hasn't been easy.

Keep reading... Show less

Get Dance Business Weekly in your inbox

Sign Up Used in accordance with our Privacy Policy.