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AU boots ballet rehearsals for Obama interview

AU ousted a children’s ballet school from the Harold and Sylvia Greenberg Theatre to host President Barack Obama’s interview with MSNBC on Dec. 5.

Ballet Petite planned to run its first dress rehearsal for “The Nutcracker” on Dec. 5, three days prior to its debut, according to Nancy Parenti, the founder of the company.

“We regret the short notice, and do recognize the impact of the compacted time frame for preparations on the dancers and the company,” Vice President of Communications Terry Flannery said in a statement.

However, AU notified Parenti on Dec. 3 at noon that the space was needed for the MSNBC event, canceling two planned rehearsals.

“We were of course hopeful that we might have had that information earlier and that they might have asked permission first,” Parenti said.

The company was not given another option for practice space and cost them two days of rehearsal for the necessary 13 hours of tech and dress rehearsals, Parenti said.

Ballet Petite will pay half the normal cost for the remaining five days it uses the theater, Parenti said. However, the University did not offer this deal when it originally cancelled the rehearsals on Dec. 3.

“We first heard about it on two newscasts last night in a statement from the University,” Parenti said. “Today was the first day we got that direct communication, through email.”

AU had an agreement since January with the school to hold six rehearsals and eight performances on these dates, Parenti said. This will be the group’s ninth year of using the Greenberg for the winter performance.

Despite AU’s violation of the agreement, Parenti said she wants to continue to have a good relationship with AU in the future.

“We’re really ready to move on and graciously comply, and we’re grateful that we’re able to make this happen for Sunday,” she said.

The University ensured the school will still be ready for its opening performance, according to the statement.

“The university worked with the dance company to reschedule the load-in and rehearsals, originally scheduled for December 4 and 5, in order to prepare for and host the visit,” Flannery said in the statement. “The new schedule is December 6 and 8.”

The company has been practicing for this production since August, Parenti said. The company will now hold its first dress rehearsal in the hours before its first show on Dec. 8.

“We’re definitely going to have some very long hours with some very young children,” Parenti said.

Staff Writer Heather Mongilio contributed to this report.

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