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Companies: Cedar Lake Ensemble


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Hello everyone! I recently read an article in the latest dance magazine about various dancers who were just starting out in companies. One company that was mentioned was Cedar Lake Ensemble. It stated that they get paid the equivalent of the NYCB corps and that its one of the best small companies in the US. Well, that inevitably got me quite curious on the company, so i went to their website to get more info. i was immediately confused. it, to me, looks like the main company is based in NYC, and the second company in Missouri. but that seems a little, odd? so basically i was just wondering if anyone had more info on the company and knew where they were based? thanks!

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Here is the company's website: Cedar Lakes Ensemblethat also lists their upcoming performances.


For some background on the company, that's not a press release, from an October 22, 2005 NY Times, now archived, article: They're in the Money; Cedar Lake Ensemble Has a New Home and Some Old Problems by Erika Kenetz:

The block of 26th Street between 10th and 11th Avenues... But the Cedar Lake Ensemble, a fledgling contemporary ballet company, possesses one thing most dance companies do not: money...but funds are not necessarily the key to happiness. Despite offering its dancers benefits most only dream of -- year-round work, respectable salaries and health insurance -- the company has lost a number of members...


Cedar Lake was established in 2002 by Nancy Walton Laurie, the niece of Sam Walton, founder of Wal-Mart. She is a regular on Forbes magazine's list of the world's richest people, with an estimated fortune of $2.5 billion...


...But despite the enviable circumstances, employee satisfaction could be higher. ''It was the most horrible experience I've had in my career,'' said Dario Vaccaro, a dancer who left Cedar Lake this summer. ''They took $75 out of my paycheck because I arrived one day, 34 seconds late.'' Robert Rosenwasser, the associate artistic director of Alonzo King's Lines Ballet, designed costumes for a piece Mr. King choreographed for Cedar Lake. He said the experience was difficult. ''Most people want to make art, and they figure out how to support it,'' he said. ''It's a struggle, but you keep going. For someone to come into the field with $50 million and just start throwing money around, it's a very different thing. It's not patronage of the arts, and it's also not an institution that's had its genesis in some sort of creative impulse.''


...People who have worked with Cedar Lake describe the environment as corporate. In 2003-4, dancers were given two pages of rules, which included a stipulation not to address L. Jen Ballard, then the artistic director, directly; working hours were to run between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m.; dancers were not to be paid for sick days unless they had a doctor's note...


...No one would live like this in a real company,'' said Alan S. Gordon, the national executive director of the American Guild of Musical Artists, which last year unsuccessfully brought an unfair labor practice charge against Cedar Lake....


...Jolene Baldini, a Juilliard graduate who has been dancing with the company since its inception, said the work was hard but not punishing. ''If it's not worth blood, sweat, and tears, it wouldn't be satisfying,'' she said...


For her part, Ms. Laurie tries to avoid the topic of money. ''I've always said, at the end of the day, people are only going to remember Cedar Lake by how superb and talented a group of people we have,'' she said. ''They are not going to remember the building and this and that. I don't think they understand what a hard group of dedicated people -- kids, I call them kids -- I have.''


Here's what I came up with doing a search on Ballet Talk's site: Cedar...scroll through them to see which correspond with Cedar Lakes Ensemble...and keep searching Google, too.


Here is a review from this past October, in the New York Times: An Ensemble Engages the Physical Side of Modern Ballet

Edited by BW
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I have a friend who's son is in Cedar Lake and he absolutely LOVES it there. He is so happy to be a part of that company. Of course - she (the Mom) hasn't heard any of the downside - but isn't is great that this company exists and is employing dancers and paying them decent - extremely decent - salaries? With all the companies shutting down because of lack of funds - this company is well funded and successful. Just what our dancers need.

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Mods, this may border too much on gossip if so delete the post.




I met some (3) dancers from the second company this spring in various company auditions. Which means they are trying to get other jobs, so there may be positions open in the fall. They were very happy with the second company but were moving on to get to a better geographical location and more standard ballet rep. The company is a contemporary blend of modern and ballet. They had good things to say about the day to day life of the second company.

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