Sunday was a momentous day for the Indianapolis arts world and, indeed, the entire community with the launch of Indianapolis Ballet at “Two-Piano Fundraiser” at Newfields, the new name of the Indianapolis Museum of Art.
The event was hosted by the Indianapolis School of Ballet, led by visionary Victoria Lyras. In May, the organization announced the formation of Indianapolis Ballet, the first professional ballet company to be based in Indianapolis, since the demise of Ballet Internationale in 2005. Proceeds of the event went towards The Moving Forward Campaign to fund the new company.
Prior to the recital, emceed by Lyras, which featured renowned pianists Marianne Tobias and Panayis Lyras (brother to Victoria), a reception was held in the lobby of the Toby Theatre, which will serve as the home for Indianapolis Ballet. Present were board members, Indianapolis School of Ballet patrons, friends, students and parents.
Lyras, a native of Greece, received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the Julliard School. Having performed solo recitals in some of the most prestigious concert halls in the U.S. Lyras has also been a guest soloist for major symphony orchestras all over the U.S. and throughout the world. Currently he a professor of piano and an artist in residence at the Michigan State University College of Music.
Tobias a who earned a B.A. from Harvard University is employed with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra in the position of full-time program annotator/musicologist and pre-concert lecturer. A graduate of the Longy School of Music in Cambridge, Mass, she received her M.A. and her PH. D/DMA from the University of Minnesota.
Playing grand pianos, side by side, Lyras and Tobias performed an eclectic program for the 150 guests present. Included were pieces by Mozart, Moszkowski, Dvořák, Rachmaninoff and Milhaud. For an encore they performed the sprightly, L’embarquement pour Cythère, valse-musette for 2 pianos by Poulenc.
Both virtuoso musicians displayed exquisite technique and superb, expressive clarity in their performances. The beautiful music created by these consummate artists was a welcome respite from the calamity and strife that surrounds us, bringing, calmness, inspiration and light into a world that seemingly gets darker every day.
After the concert, Indianapolis Ballet board president Michael O’Brien and Lyras introduced a short video which featured her, as well as Chris Lingner and Kristin Young, the first two dancers hired for the company which will expand over the coming year. Also announced was the return of the “Nutcracker” to the Murat Theatre at Old National Centre, December 22-23 and the debut season of Indianapolis Ballet which includes Stravinsky’s “The Firebird,” February 16-18 and ”A Midsummer Night’s Dream” May 18 -20—both at the Toby.
The announcements were followed by the introduction of the dancers by Tobias. Young, formerly of Nashville Ballet and Ligner, formerly of Cincinnati Ballet, performed an appealing pas de deux while pianist Lyras played Etude in D-sharp minor, Op. 8, No. 12 by Scriabin. Seasoned dancers both, the attractive Young and Ligner demonstrated what audiences can look forward to in terms of impeccable technique, elegant pairing and fine musicality.
For years, community leaders have referred to Indianapolis as a world-class city. There are others, however, who feel that Indy has not achieved that distinction because it does not have a resident ballet company. Now thanks to Indianapolis Ballet and its supporters, that gap will be filled with the return of the revered art form to Central Indiana. Soon it will be possible for both ballet devotees and those who have yet to discover it, to revel in its beauty and inspiration.
For tickets and information regarding “Nutcracker” and the Indianapolis Ballet debut season visit indyballet.org.