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

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