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Western ballet troupes unite.

PORTLAND, Oregon--Ballet Idaho (BI), recently directed by Benjamin Kuzmichev, and Eugene Ballet Company (EBC), led by Toni Pimble, have formed an alliance intended to improve both troupes artistically while reducing their costs.

Under the terms of an agreement signed in February, each company will maintain its own name, a separate board of directors, and separate administrative staffs in Eugene and Boise. The dancers will be united, however, in one twenty-four-member troupe under the artistic direction of Pimble. This new entity will be based in Boise, where rehearsal facilities at the Esther Simplot Center for the Performing Arts are much better than in Eugene. BI and EBC will pool their resources for production costs, as well as for the salaries of the artistic staff.

"We feel that the key for both organizations is to maintain community identification," says Riley Grannan, the general manager of EBC, who cofounded that company with Pimble fifteen years ago.

Formerly American Festival Ballet, BI was founded more than twenty years ago in Moscow, Idaho. The company moved to Boise in the mid-eighties and became BI a year ago under the direction of Kuzmichev, a Soviet emigre. On an annual budget of $380,000, BI has been presenting three concert series a season, with one of these an appearance by another company.

EBC, which has an annual budget of $1,200,000, now gives four concert series a season, as well as touring throughout the western half of the United States.

According to Vicki Wheeler, vicepresident of BI's board of directors, the Boise audience is interested in seeing the kind of innovative choreography that Pimble has been creating for the last ten years, as well as the classics.

Pimble's works are in the repertoires of a number of companies around the country, and the choreographer is well on her way to receiving national recognition. She participated in New York City Ballet's first Diamond Project two years ago. For EBC, she has staged such repertoire standards as Romeo and Juliet and Sleeping Beauty and has created the childfriendly ballets Alice in Wonderland and Children of the Raven, the latter based on Northwest Indian legends.

"We see this as a way to bring better ballet to [Boise] more economically," Wheeler says.

The merged company will open its first season in October with performances in both Boise and Eugene of Charles Bennett's Dracula.
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Title Annotation:Ballet Idaho and Eugene Ballet Company to combine dancers under one performing entity while retaining separate administrative identities
Author:West, Martha Ullman
Publication:Dance Magazine
Date:Sep 1, 1994
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