ARTS AROUND TOWN: BALLET QUAD CITIES

By Sean Leary

A dream in living color gives the Quad Cities ballet.

Ballet Quad-Cities began twenty-one years ago, with one paid dancer, $25,000 in seed money, and the dream burning in the heart of founder and director Joedy Cook to bring a professional dance company to the area. “I had a dream in living color that the Quad-Cities needed and could support this,” the effervescent, energetic, driven Cook said. “And twenty-one years later, we’re still here.”

Still, that wasn’t always a certainty. Things started slowly, she said, at the venue at 613 17th Street in Rock Island, and there were challenges along the way, but Cook persevered and stayed optimistic and practical. “We didn’t spend money we didn’t have, we ran with a really tight budget and we were smart about things,” she said. “We still are. The budget for a ballet company can be really high, just for pointe shoes alone, it’s $100 and sometimes they’re only worn once. Our budget for those supplies alone is $16,000 a year. So, we’ve got to be really smart about how we operate.”

Having a high-quality product and people involved in the company whose passion exudes from their shows has helped Ballet Quad-Cities earn and maintain a reputation for sterling performances, creative enterprises and educational and altruistic endeavors.

The production company operates in tandem with their ballet school of the same name, which teaches students at all levels and helps produce the next generation of those to join the company. The Ballet prefers to grow from within, Cook said, because it continues to produce the kind of roots and foundation in the community that has helped them make a more positive and resonant impact.

Ballet Quad-Cities does five stage performances a year, but is performing and teaching in area schools through outreach programs to Davenport, Bettendorf, Rock Island, Moline, East Moline and Muscatine, and they have a branch in Cedar Rapids as well. The ballet also does outreachprograms to local daycares, after school programs, senior centers and programs for the mentally and physically disabled.

“We have a program called Dance Me A Story that we created three years ago that has been very popular and is a really great interactive program that audiences love,” Cook said. “We take a popular book and with the audience’s help, the dancers act out and dance out the story. It’s really been a big hit and something audiences have really responded to.”

Audiences have likewise responded to the ballet’s main stage shows, especially their just-passed Halloween gig, “Dracula,” and their upcoming holiday spectacular, the annual classic, “The Nutcracker,” hitting the Adler Theater, 136 E. 3rd Street, Davenport, Dec. 9-10, with shows at 2:00 and 8:00 p.m. Saturday and 2:00 p.m. Sunday. With Cook at the helm, the future looks bright. “I’m passionate, I believe in this company and this community,” Cook said. “I get up every day to do something I’ve never done before. It’s so fun meeting new people, having new ideas, collaborating and experiencing new things. It’s a great way to live life.”

For tickets and more information see www.balletquadcities.com or call 309-786-3779.