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Take note: Love is in the air at Fort Wayne Ballet

Company to perform intimate Love Notes at Freemasons Hall

David Claypoole and Lindsay Navarre will appear in Fort Wayne Ballet’s Love Notes, which will be held Feb. 11-12 at the Freemasons Hall.

Emma Bachtel

Whatzup Features Writer

Published February 1, 2023

Love is in the air — and on the dance floor — as Fort Wayne Ballet presents its romantic repertory program Love Notes

Since its debut in 2015, Love Notes has become an annual occurrence, much to the enjoyment of the FWB audience who have fallen in love with this program. This year, it’s slated for Friday, Feb. 10, and Saturday, Feb. 11.

“Love glides across the stage ignited by the yearnings of the soul,” a description of the show reads on the FWB website. “Find a special evening with this spectacle of the heart, as Fort Wayne Ballet brings the passion of romance through dance.”

Love for Variety

This show will give some love to a variety of dance styles, from classical ballet to contemporary works. 

“This program is very unique,” artistic director Karen Gibbons-Brown said. “With such a variety of repertoire being performed, there truly is something for everyone to enjoy.”

The evening will consist mostly of pas de deux, or “dances for two,” performed by the principal dancers. Gibbons-Brown gave some hints about which duets the audience can expect to see. 

“There will be a beautiful pas de deux featuring the star-crossed lovers, Nikiya and Solar, from the classical ballet La Bayadere,” she said. “It’s very moving and romantic.”

The audience can also expect to see a duet from Vasily Vainonen’s iconic ballet Flames of Paris and David Ingram’s Very Gently

If Ingram’s name sounds familiar, it’s because his ties to Fort Wayne and FWB are significant. 

“David was actually a student of mine and danced with the company,” Gibbons-Brown said. 

Ingram is among the ranks of Gibbons-Brown’s students that have developed impressive résumés. His includes choreographing numerous reputable dance companies in addition to FWB along with being assistant professor in the School of Theatre and Dance at East Carolina University and professor of dance at Butler University.

Ingram’s success speaks to the high caliber of FWB’s faculty, who will also present works in Love Notes, including The Merry Little Waltz set by Eleonora Pokhitonova Hartung, a contemporary duet choreographed by Tracy Tritz, Raleigh Sparrow’s spunky piece Cheek to Cheek, and a contemporary group piece set by principal dancer Saki Morimoto. 

“Saki’s piece is the only group work that will be performed during the evening,” Gibbons-Brown said. “While the other pieces focus mostly on romantic love, this one focuses on community love, which is very important to us at FWB.”

Elegant Venue

Just as unique as the repertoire is the venue of this performance. After being in ArtsLab last year, the show will return to the ballroom in the Freemasons Hall.

According to its website, the Freemasons Hall — otherwise known as the Masonic Temple — was “built in 1926 at a cost of over $1 million dollars,” noting it represents “elegance, history, and tradition.”

This building, it seems, has a lot in common with the art of classical ballet, which makes it an exquisite choice of venue for Love Notes.

“It’s a lovely atmosphere,” Gibbons-Brown said. “It’s a little less formal than our typical shows. At Love Notes, audience members are encouraged to get up, walk around, and even purchase drinks at the bar during the show.” 

General admission seats are arranged to offer an intimate, up-close experience. 

“It’s not often that you get to be so close to the dancers while they perform,” Gibbons-Brown said. “It allows you experience dance in a different way.”

If you are looking for a more private, romantic viewing, purchasing a table for two is an option for $150. 

According to FWB’s website, at these tables, located in private viewing boxes, “Couples will enjoy a private stage-side table, complimentary wine, roses, specialty chocolates, and light appetizers for two while they indulge in the most famous love duets in the ballet repertoire.”

Wonderful Evening proposed

FWB proposes that Love Notes will be a perfect way to spend a romantic evening. 

“The show runs slightly longer than one hour, so it is perfect for couples who want to make an evening out of it and grab dinner beforehand,” Gibbons-Brown said. 

And, speaking of proposals, those have happened at Love Notes, too. 

“One year, we had a member of our audience reach out to us and let us know he would like to propose to his girlfriend at one of our Love Notes performances,” Gibbons-Brown said. “Of course, we were thrilled to help!” 

At the conclusion of Gibbons-Brown’s pre-show speech, the audience member proposed successfully, much to the joy of the rest of the audience. 

“It was really exciting for everyone, and the perfect way to capture the energy of the evening,” she said.

Benefit for ballet friend

Community love, the subject of Morimoto’s piece in Love Notes, is something FWB strives to embody both on and off the dance floor. 

In an act of community love, FWB will host a benefit for longtime friend and photographer of FWB Rob Borel, on Saturday, Feb. 4, from 6-8 p.m.

According to a GoFundMe page set up by FWB, “Rob is battling cancer and needs help to meet medical and life’s expenses until he’s able to get back behind the camera!”

The event will feature performances by FWB and the Fort Wayne Civic Theatre as well as displays of Borel’s photography and film work. There will also be food and drinks. 

“Rob started doing photography for FWB in the ’80s and he has been our photographer ever since,” Gibbons-Brown said. “He really means a lot to FWB and does a lot for the Fort Wayne Community.”

The benefit being hosted by FWB will take place in their rehearsal studios Auer Center for Arts & Culture. 

Though not directly related to the Love Notes performance, this event will be perfect for audience members looking to get into the spirit of showing love early. 

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