The news came on Friday, and I'm still in shock: Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet is shutting down. It'll fulfill its engagements in Boston this May and Brookyln this June, but company auditions and the Cedar Lake 180 summer program have been canceled.
What? Just...what? Until about five minutes ago, Cedar Lake seemed like one of the most stable companies around, thanks to generous financial backing by Walmart heiress Nancy Laurie. It attracted incredible dancers with things like year-round contracts and dental insurance—perks few other contemporary groups could even dream of offering. And holy mother, the results were fantastic. Under Benoit-Swan Pouffer's direction, Cedar Lake acquired gorgeous, interesting, cutting-edge repertory. It was THE PLACE to dance. Pretty much every student we've interviewed over the past bazillion years (or, OK, the past 12—the troupe was founded in 2003) has cited Cedar Lake as her dream company.
Were there warning signs? Were we just blind? Yes, the company faced a hurdle when Pouffer left in 2013. But by February 2014, when we featured three of Cedar Lake's beautiful dancers on our cover, it seemed like things were running smoothly again under Alexandra Damiani.
Cedar Lakers (L to R) Ida Saki, Billy Bell and Navarra Novy-Williams photographed for our February 2014 cover (by Erin Baiano)
The New York Observer says that "financial issues" were at least partly to blame for the shutdown. I guess that's the thing about fairy godmothers like Laurie: Magical as they are, when they decide the party is over, it's over. And it looks like the clock just struck midnight for Cedar Lake.
I'm saddest for the dancers. I'm not exactly worried for them—they'll have no trouble finding work, geniuses that they are. But they were part of a beautiful thing, and now that beautiful thing is gone.
RIP, Cedar Lake.