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Indiana Ballet Theatre brings French flair to Bastille Day celebration
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Indiana Ballet Theatre brings French flair to Bastille Day celebration

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CROWN POINT | Torrential rains on July 17 washed out the Indiana Ballet Theatre’s outdoor Bastille Day fundraiser on the grounds of the future Classical Arts Centre, a historical building a block north of the Lake County Government Center.

On Sunday, the IBT brought that French flair indoors to St. Elijah Hall where volunteers, students and other supporters of the arts recreated those Bastille Day festivities, complete with a rendering of the Eiffel Tower and dozens of French flags.

Bastille Day is celebrated on July 14 and marks the fall of the the medieval fortress called the Bastille and the start of the French Revolution.

In keeping with the French-themed festivities, IBT students and dance professionals performed excerpts from "An American in Paris"/"Gaite Parisienne" during Bastille Day. The fast-paced performance blended dances made famous by Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron in the 1951 classic film "An American in Paris" and the 1938 ballet "Gaite Parisienne" that features a troupe of can-can dancers.

The Wetenkamp family from Michigan City learned about the indoor Bastille Day celebration online and decided to make it an outing.

Madison Wetenkamp, 5, and 7-year old brother, Hunter, earned their berets and prizes in the Treasure Hunt organized by Georgia and Carsten Falkenberg.

“They were the first ones to finish the treasure hunt,” said dad Jason Wetenkamp.

The kids also took away prizes in the Bozo Buckets game supervised by IBT students.

“We just moved into the area,” he said. “This is something to do on a Sunday.”

Gloria Tuohy, a world-renowned dancer and Crown Point resident, founded the not-for-profit Indiana Ballet Theatre in 1980 which presents such classics as "The Nutcracker Suite" at the Star Plaza Theater.

Several years ago Tuohy began a capital campaign to transform the former Nurses Home, a rooming house for nurses working at the James O. Parramore Tuberculosis Sanitorium, into the Classical Arts Centre and what she calls “A destination for the region.”

“If everybody gets behind us, we can do this in two years,” Tuohy said in breaks between dance performances. “Next year, we’ll get a rain date.”

Tuohy also presented a raffle check for $2,500 sponsored by Team Honda to Bill Krizman and Rebecca Dowling, of Crown Point.

The couple and daughter Ashley Dowling in turn presented a check to Tuohy to donate some of the winnings back to the IBT.

“Our family has always supported IBT,” said Rebecca Dowling.

Leota Bauman, of A Symphony of Watercolor and executive director of the LaPorte County Symphony, displayed her artwork during Bastille Day offering 20 percent of each sale as a donation to the Classical Arts Centre.

“The symphony has worked with Gloria with 'The Nutcracker' ... I hope to have a studio in the Classical Arts Centre,” Bauman said. “Gloria has a thing in her heart for all children. She’s so inclusive. It’s a natural for her.”


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