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National Ballet coming to Victoria after all

National troupe to present intimate event in place of Sleeping Beauty

The National Ballet of Canada will be in Victoria after all this fall, says a relieved Dance Victoria producer Stephen White.

"Oooh my goodness, I think I lost 10 years in the last few days," said White, who found out Monday the National Ballet was in financial straits and cancelling its Western Canada tour, which included Victoria Sept. 26.

"I've been sending up some pretty intense smoke signals all week, and a lot of credit goes to the National Ballet and Canada Council for responding so quickly."

The originally scheduled program, Sleeping Beauty, which featured 70 dancers and more than 20 orchestra members has been scrapped, but the company will send 10 dancers instead for an intimate, full evening of works.

The skinnier program is being designed for Victoria by NB artistic director Karen Kain and because White cobbled together a partnership with the Port Theatre, in Nanaimo, it will be seen there also -- the only two venues in Western Canada.

White said Canada Council had to act fast because its $400,000 subsidy for the original offering was withdrawn when the tour collapsed. New money has been promised, but the percentage will be lower, meaning profits are too. White is also lowering ticket prices by $8, "so it will pretty much be a break even proposition for us." The show takes place Sept. 26 and tickets start at $51.50.

White said the new program will offer the best of the best: Top dancers from country's top company, "a rare, intimate evening of pas de deux and group pieces."

This year has been challenging for Dance Victoria because of the rising U.S. dollar and slightly softer attendance. When White booked this season 18 months ago, the dollar was near par, but the company ended up paying close to 25 per cent more.

But he isn't worried about next year because he has already booked Alberta Ballet and the Royal Winnipeg -- two rock solid companies.