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Louisville Ballet Receives $1 Million Gift

Robert Curran 2015 Candid - Photo by Sam English
Sam English

The Louisville Ballet has received a $1 million gift from an anonymous donor that will go to support the company’s artistic efforts, including the development of new works, the company announced Friday.

Artistic and Executive Director Robert Curran said the donation will ensure live music at every performance, and collaborations with other artists and organizations.

“I want to create the profound belief that ballet is a contemporary art form," Curran said during a news conference on Friday. "It allows us to reveal ourselves as a force that connects all art forms. “

This is the largest gift from an individual in the company’s history, Curran said. The donor is based in New York and has been a supporter of Curran’s work in the past.

Curran came to the Louisville Ballet in August 2014 from the Australian Ballet. He said the gift is a validation of his artistic vision.

“It’s the beginning of a new chapter for us," Curran said.

"It’s the beginning of an exciting new chapter for me personally as I get to launch into the first season that I have programmed.”

Louisville Ballet Board President Lisa Patrick Leet, who also spoke at the news conference, remarked about her experience as a child when she attended a performance by what was then known as the Louisville Ballet Company. She later joined the company as a teenager.

"It was a different ballet company. We were all high school students, mostly girls, a few boys," she said of the ballet's dancers.

"No professionals except for the director and his wife, who performed with us. What a long way we've come."

The Louisville Ballet’s season opens in early October with a new version of ballet classic “Coppelia,” in which the traditional 19th Century European setting is changed to Louisville in 1917.

The production will be choreographed by Curran, with scenic designs by Louisville visual artist Jacob Heustis and live music performed by the Louisville Orchestra.

(Photo credit: Sam English/Louisville Ballet)