Why Dallas Can't Dance

Ballet Dallas may finally succumb to years of self-inflicted mediocrity

That could be one hard-to-keep campaign promise. Last year, the Ballet Dallas board didn't even come close to collecting $750,000: it raised less than $75,000; the year before that, only about $43,000.

And Crozier, admitting ignorance of Ballet Dallas' budget, sidesteps what that massive, though unlikely, infusion of money would be spent on.

"Cash always provides opportunities, as you know, in any organization," she says. "It's the lifeline."

What Crozier does discuss, incessantly, is the "new guard," a group of younger board members ages 2840 she'll recruit to help her. "Our advisory board will be composed of Dallas' most well-respected and powerful leaders of today," she says. "I've probably had 20 to 25 of the city's most powerful arts patrons approach me."

But Crozier won't name names. "I think that's a little premature," she says.
Boxes of sunlight stretch over the scarred black marley floor in the studio at 309 1/2 South Pearl Street, every now and then framing a dancer stopped in motion. A sharp, twangy accent slices through the oppressive humidity hanging in the air like a fuzzy blanket.

"Arabesque, lift, then tombe," says Clower to Ballet Dallas dancers for the last class of the 1994-95 season. "Reach, reach, reach, reach, reach, reach, reach, and liiiiiift," he says, demonstrating the arabesque position by shooting his right leg behind him, parallel to the floor.

Clower snaps his hands together, signaling the pianist to begin. An out-of-tune rendition of the pop song "Dancing Queen" fills the room and some of the dancers mouth the lyrics as they dance.

"More, more, more, more...!" shouts Clower, circling the dancers like a mad dervish, prompting them to reach further into their arabesques.

Drenched with sweat, he sits for a few seconds, rubs his knees, then he's up again.

A straw-thin dancer with deep-set eyes fumbles a double piroutte. And again. Exasperated, she walks off the floor, ties a filmy short skirt around her waist and tries one more time. Another fumble. She sighs aloud. An older dancer, wearing black sweatpants over her leotard to disguise a pot belly, frowns as she lags behind the rest of the corps. Her out-of-shape body, it seems, can no longer keep up with her still-adept feet.

Clower takes no notice.
Two claps. The music begins again, and the next line moves forward. For a moment, a square of light captures him as he grabs hold of the barre and bobs up and down in time with the music.

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