Prices en pointe: Local dancers look for funding onstage
Walking in someone else’s shoes is hard and dancing in another’s shoes is even harder, but it’s nearly impossible to do either when that person can’t afford to buy those shoes.
The New Mexico Ballet Company is trying to help dancers with the cost of their shoes and other supplies with the Dancers Relief Fund Showcase on Saturday.
Jolie Sutton-Simballa, artistic director of the NMBC, said ballet is an expensive art form to maintain.
“A ballerina would need at least $80 a week for her shoes alone, and it is hard to raise money to support it,” Sutton-Simballa said. “Dancers have to pay for shoes, they have to pay for tights, they have to pay for healthcare in order to take care of their bodies.”
Robbie Rodriguez, producer of the showcase and a 22 year dance veteran, said a fully funded ballet company can support dancers on a salary, but that is not the case with the New Mexico Ballet Company.
Dancers in the company are paid per show performance, but not during the season for training, he said. The company also provides dancers with a small shoe stipend after a seasonal show.
The relief fund showcase is a way for the company to help the dancers, he said.
“This was an opportunity our artistic director thought of for us to actually raise funds, to be able to pay dancers for the time that they actually spend working for this,” Rodriguez said.
Many of the dancers have to supplement their income by working full-time jobs elsewhere, which can make it hard on them, he said.
While dancers are getting paid for their time in this show, they are donating a lot of the proceeds into the company’s shoe fund, he said.
“Girls go through six or seven pairs of shoes during (the company’s annual Nutcracker Ballet) alone,” Rodriguez said.
Pointe shoes can cost between $90 to $150 dollars a pair, he said.
“All we can afford as a company right now is maybe $50 to $75 dollars to help the girls out with one pair of shoes,” Rodriguez said.
The relief showcase features dancers that had to step off the stage and take on the additional roles of choreography, production, marketing, program directing and more, he said.
“For these dancers to step outside of their comfort zones, and be able to produce their own piece is the coolest thing to see,” Rodriguez said.
Sutton-Simballa said the cost for a production usually runs between $250,000 and $300,000.
“I think that the greatest expense for this company comes from the actual production like the crew and rentals,” Sutton-Simballa said.
Abigail Ryckman, who has been dancing for 10 years, said dance is an expensive venture especially when a ballerina gets into pointe.
“It can be dangerous for your ankles if you’re dancing on ‘dead shoes,’ which means you’re basically feeling the floor,” Ryckman said.
Ryckman said she is excited about doing this show because of its purpose and being able to showcase so much variety. She will perform in six pieces that were choreographed by fellow dancers.
Jaclyn Younger, a junior journalism major who’s minoring in dance, said she goes through pointe shoes every three to four weeks.
“I get a discount on the shoes, but it’s still expensive,” Younger said. “I don’t think people here in the city really understand that the arts need support.”
Explaining the importance of dance to those who don’t see its value is frustrating, she said.
“It’s not just about money, its caring about the arts, because without it, you lose that freedom of expression,” Younger said.
The New Mexico Ballet Company Dancer’s Relief Fund Showcase
Saturday at 7 p.m.
African American Performing Arts Center
310 San Pedro Dr. N.E.
$15 for adults, $10 for children and students with valid ID (CASH ONLY)
For more information call 292-4245 or go to newmexicoballet.org
GRAPHIC – Bea: We’d like a graphic with a male and a female ballerina that points to each part of the ensemble and lists the cost. All cost information came from the New Mexico Ballet Company.
Leotard – $100 – $1,000
Tutu – $150
Tights – $20 – $60
Pointe shoes – $90 – $150
Tunic – $100 – $1,000
Tights – $65 – $100
Shoes – $20 – $40
Want to rent an outfit? That’s $200 – $500 per day.