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Texas Ballet Theater's trip to China faces cancellation

Texas Ballet Theater has given itself until Wednesday to raise at least $70,000 or the company may have to cancel its long-planned participation in the China Shanghai International Arts Festival in October, according to Robin Arena, TBT’s chairman.

“Wednesday is a totally arbitrary deadline,” says Arena, “But if we have determined that we are absolutely unable to afford to go, then we need to let the Chinese festival organizers know because we absolutely don’t want to cancel on them in the last minute.”

According to Arena, it is the ballet’s inability to raise between $70,000-$100,000 in additional expenses for the troupe’s trip that has pushed them to the brink of cancelling the highly prestigious engagement.

“We really don’t want to cancel this but our backs are right up against the wall when it comes to raising more money,” admits Arena.

The extra money is needed, according to Arena, to pay for all the shipping within China of scenery and costumes, special flooring, a new lighting grid, and some expenses associated with the special recorded music accompanying the production of Cleopatra. According to Arena, the Chinese had initially agreed to foot these bills but, as of late spring, informed the ballet they would not be covering those expenses.

Arena says that she and other ballet officials have been scrambling to close that funding gap by contacting such major corporations as Federal Express and Anheuser-Busch. But both organizations, she says, have already given most of their recent sponsorship and marketing monies towards the Beijing Olympics.

With great fanfare, Texas Ballet Theater announced last March its plan to travel to China this October to perform in the China Shanghai International Arts Festival. In making that planned tour, Texas Ballet Theater would become the first North Texas dance troupe to ever perform in China.

The ballet’s China tour is scheduled to run 10 days and involve 40 dancers, performing Cleopatra and a separate program comprised of individual, short works. Cleopatra, in particular, is scheduled to be televised for an anticipated audience of 500 million.

Running over the course of a month, the Shanghai Festival celebrates as many as 60 live performances in such disciplines as theater, Chinese dance, opera, classical and popular music, and, of course, ballet.