Chris Lingner Leaves The Stage To Make A Difference Behind The Scenes

February 25, 2024

Chris Lingner – Courtesy of Indiana Ballet Conservatory. Used with permission.

Following a four-year stint as a principal dancer with Indianapolis Ballet that ended in 2022, Chris Lingner, retired from performing to begin another chapter in career. Eventually he was asked to assume the role of Operations Business Manager for Indiana Ballet Conservatory in Carmel, Indiana where he began his tenure in September. Recently we met up to discuss his transition. Below is an edited transcript of our conversation.

What does your position at Indiana Ballet Conservatory entail?

I would have to say that I am a Jack of all Trades. My primary function though, is to make sure the business is operating effectively. That means enabling all our employees to work at their best. Anything I can do to help them, I am. I assist new families that want to partake in our training and given my performance background, I can also provide input whenever needed and offer any artistic help required.

Are you Artistic Director Alyona Yakovleva-Randall’s go-to person?

I assist her in achieving and executing her vision as the artistic director. On the business end I have freedom, but if we are going in the direction of a major shift, we do that together.

Chris Lingner

Chris Lingner – Courtesy of Maximillian Tortoriello. Used with permission.

Does IBC Board President Rick Griskie lend his business background? Yes

Rick is extremely helpful; it has been a great help to me. This is also brand new as I have been performing quite a bit and Rick comes from a long business background, managing many businesses before running his business for 15 years.

Is it safe to say that you are on a learning curve?

Yes, I would say so. I am learning how things have been run in the past but I like to think I bring my own energy to work a bit faster and take some of the load off so each individual can do their best at their tasks and responsibilities and not be bogged down by unnecessary things.

Describe your performance background?

I had a very eclectic background. I was raised in Indianapolis. Out of high school I joined the Broadway National Tour of “Moving Out,” dancing for Twila Tharp. Then I worked for Royal Caribbean and was out at sea for a while, and then I was in musical theater productions. From there I went to Indiana University and studied at the Jacobs School of Music for three a 1/2 years and was then picked up by Cincinnati Ballet mid-season.

I danced with them for four years and got to dance at the Joyce and the Kennedy Center Then came the opportunity to help found the Indianapolis Ballet, under Victoria Lyras. I was one of the founding dancers and finished the remainder of my performance career with Indianapolis Ballet after four years. Following my stint with IB I danced as a guest, performing with various schools during “Nutcracker” season. That is prime time for dancers. At the time, I really did not want to, but I also did not have a choice because I needed an income. Then, companies such as Ballet Virginia and Dayton Ballet asked me to come and dance as well. I was very thankful to have those opportunities. Then Alyona reached out to me about assuming my current position.  I was not sure I wanted to go back to the arts but felt I was ready to return and learn something new and think about what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.

L-R – Chris Lingner & Yoshiko Kamikusa – Courtesy of  Moonbug Photography. Used with permission.

Why did Alyona reach out to you?

Well, way back in the day, we had done some performances together with Gregory Hancock Dance Theater when she was still dancing. And so, I remember her from those days. Also, Sergey Surgiev, who was on one of my teachers, is on faculty at IBC. He was transformative for me in my career early on, choreographing solos for both my brother Cory (also a dancer) that we took to competitions The dance world is small and those of us that have been in it long enough, all know each other at some at some juncture.

What I have always tried to do while performing was to give my entire self to it. I took it upon myself to learn as much as I could partnering with Yoshiko Kamikusa at IB because it fascinated me. The whole circle of what it takes to put on a show. I pulled from are my experiences, including Cincinnati Ballet, going on the road with Twila Tharp, working on a cruise ship, my at time Indiana University and all the people I worked with.  I’m a product of this community and I take those skills I have acquired from them and share them.  That’s always been the way I try to operate.

 Who are your influences?

My family has influenced me 100% and keeps me in check. You must have somebody to make sure you are staying on track. My parents, my wife, my godfather, Conrad Picirillo —between all of them — they shape who I am. When we are in the public eye, you need people surrounding you who keep you grounded by giving you constructive criticism and keep your ego in check. I welcome that. I have found that when I do not pay attention to them, I get a little off the rails, so it is nice to have them get me back on track.

Tell me more about your family.

I have a wonderful family. My dad, Terry Lingner, was the third producer hired at ESPN and has done things all over the world and helps me run a video production business here in Indianapolis. My mother, Louse, was once a successful businessperson working for The Limited. Now she does a wonderful job supporting the arts and helped found the Indianapolis Ballet Guild and continues to do work with them. And my brother Cory has performed in five Broadway shows and just got back from Japan performing all kinds of Disney music for live orchestras. He is an incredible artist in and of himself and a massive inspiration to me.

How would you like to be remembered as far as your dance career?

I don’t think of this much, actually. I’ve been told that my dancing is missed. I’d hope to be remembered fondly for the experiences the audience had in seeing a performance I gave. I was also told that my partnering is missed as well. That was always my favorite. I always put my partners before me and I’m happy to hear that, that showed in the care I placed in that aspect of the job.

L-R – Abigail Morwood & Chris Lingner – Courtesy of Peter Mueller Used by permission.

What do you hope to contribute to IBC?

I hope to continue to share what I have learned over the course of my career with the next generations and to continue to enrich the community with high quality art being produced right here at home.

Why should the public support IBC?

The Indiana Ballet Conservatory focuses on high quality training and the dancers benefit from it. Our productions are first rate, and we are poised for greater growth. Organizations such as the Carmel Symphony Orchestra wish to partner with us. If fact, IBC is performing in “Firebird” with CSO at the Palladium in with CSO on March 16.

For information about Indiana Ballet Conservatory visit For tickets “Bohemian Delight and The Firebird” visit








photo: Josh Humble

About Tom

Journalist, producer, director, Emmy Award-winning documentary filmmaker, arts administrator, TV contributor, actor, model, writer and lyricist, Tom Alvarez has had an extensive career in media and the fine arts and continues to be an enthusiastic and devoted fan of both. His passion and unique background grant him insight, access and perspective to cover, promote and review the arts in Indianapolis, Central Indiana and beyond. Follow him on social media @tomalvarezartswriter and @tomalvarez1.

Alvarez has been writing about theatre, dance, music, cinema and visual arts for 40 years. His work has appeared in the Indianapolis Star, NUVO, Indianapolis Monthly, Arts Indiana, Unite Magazine, Dance Magazine, NOTE Magazine, and, among many other print and online platforms. A former contributor to Across Indiana on WFYI-TV, he currently has a regular performing arts segment on WISH-TV’s Life. Style. Live!

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