Thursday, September 04, 2003

Pointe of Departure needs your help...a commentary

Wonderful dance company, Point of Departure, needs your help!

With the demise of The Cleveland-San Jose Ballet several years ago, the area was left without a major ballet company. This is a major missing link in the arts chain of excellent in Greater Cleveland. The Cleveland Symphony and Cleveland Museum of Art symphony have international reputations. The Playhouse Square area is renowned for its theatres. The Cleveland Play House is the oldest theatre of its type in the country. The Great Lakes Theatre Festival is in the midst of a wondrous rebirth. The Cleveland Opera and many smaller theatres such as Dobama and Cleveland Public Theatre have given the area a solid performance reputation. Without a ballet company, however, Cleveland can’t be considered a complete arts center.

The two wonders of the CSJB, dancers Karen Gabay and Raymond Rodriguez, Clevelanders by choice, want to do something about filling the void. There is a love affair between Gabay, Rodriguez and Cleveland ballet audiences. We have seen them grow from wunderkindts to mature dancers and Gabay into a creative choreographer. This was clearly seen at their recent appearance at Cain Park. The applause was great. In the talk-back following the program, accolades from the audience pored forth.

Point of Departure is what the area needs. So, what’s the problem? The answer: $$$$$$. Without money the company can’t exist.

Point of Departure been living on a subsistence since it was conceived. Dancers are jobbed-in. They want to come here and run a complete season. The area has a fine reputation and Gabay and Rodriguez reek from talent, drive and dedication. Why can’t the company get the likes of $45,000 to stage shows like that done at Cain Park? They aren’t extravagant. They don’t throw money around like the CSJB did. They perform without sets and a culled-down production staff, yet the productions are glorious.

Where have the CSJB donors gone? Why aren’t local businesses giving the needed funds? Why has no local production venue offered their home to Point of Departure? Yes, there is a recession going on. Yes, companies have left the area. Yes, all of the arts organizations need funds as was displayed by the number of theatres last year who had to cut their seasons short and the disappearance altogether of the Berea Summer Theatre and the Halle Theatre at the Jewish Community Center. But, there are still very wealthy people around and very productive companies. Average folks can help by giving small donations, but that’s not enough.

The window of opportunity for Pointe of Departure is closing fast. Gabay and Rodriguez are near the end of the their dance careers. They will move on to other activities if the local area doesn’t come through. This is not a threat, it’s real. They each want to settle down someplace and produce their art. If it is not here, and they get funding elsewhere, they will go elsewhere and do their thing. It will be this area’s lose.

Some person or persons or group needs to step forward and fund this fledgling organization. No one better deserves this support than Karen Gabay and Raymond Rodriguez, the co-artistic directors of Point of Departure. If you have a check to write, a suggestion of who might be the angel to give the area its ballet company, contact Point of Departure at 216-881-0353 or write Gabrod, Inc. at P.O. Box 719, Lakewood, OH 44107 or go on-line to www.pointeofdeparture,com.