story info and photos by Ruby Dean
An intimate gathering of about 70 people attended the Western Arkansas Ballet Leave An Impression Gala event Friday (Nov. 9) at the Fort Smith Riverfront Pavilion.
Guests enjoyed an evening of food, drink, music, and artwork to help raise funds for the Western Arkansas Ballet productions. Silent auction items and door prizes also highlighted the artistic talent of the River Valley area as the group endeavors to "Leave An Impression" on the community together.
Golden Corral catered the event. Kat Hardin donated pictures of some of the Western Arkansas Ballet members that she had taken and printed out on canvas. The budget for the event was $3,000 said Melissa Schoenfeld, Western Arkansas Ballet executive artistic director. She hoped to raise somewhere between $3,000 and $4,000 from the event's $35 ticket price and silent auction items.
The funds from tonight's gala will be used toward the Regional Dance America Dance Festival which will be held April 6-8, 2013. More than 600 people including dancers, faculty and family members will invade Fort Smith in April for the Regional Dance America Festival.
The weekend-long event will feature classes during the day and performances will be open to the public in the evening. Schoenfeld said hiring top-notch faculty is important for the instructional benefits. The Western Arkansas Ballet hopes to help Fort Smith make an impression on the visitors and that Western Arkansas Ballet makes a good impression also.
Western Arkansas Ballet offers several scholarships to support those who have the desire to dance, but lack the financial means to do so. For the past 26 years, the Board of Directors has introduced and implemented outreach and educational programs to fulfill the mission of Western Arkansas Ballet.
The Western Arkansas Ballet is the only dance organization in the area with membership in Regional Dance America/Southwest, an Association of Regional Ballet Companies; the only dance organization in the area to receive annual support from the Arkansas Arts council; and the only non-profit dance school and company in the area.
The mission of Western Arkansas Ballet is to create a community dedicated to the Fine Arts through quality dance education, training and performance. They hope to "leave an impression."