Our History

HISTORY OF INDIANA BALLET THEATRE

Indiana Ballet Theatre was founded nearly 40 years ago as Imperial Ballet, with eight students at the home of Gloria Tuohy MDE. It began with just classical ballet, and eventually added tap, jazz, modern. The first show was at Lakes of the Four Seasons Club House.

In 1998 the name changed to Indiana Ballet Theatre and became a non-profit organization. Throughout our 39 years, studios were located in Lakes of the Four Seasons, Hobart, Valparaiso and DeMotte.  The school now has three branch locations. The main office is located in Merrillville with branches in DeMotte and Valparaiso, and a 12-member staff of teachers and administration.

IBT has a legacy of nine classical productions and an annual modern dance concert, created by Amanda Tuohy, Director of the concert and Gloria’s daughter. The organization has worked with more than 9,000 students through IBT classes or have participated in its productions.  There are countless memories of wonderful recitals, shows, tours, outreach programs, competitions, amazing classes, and everlasting friendships.

In addition to performing for various events at a multitude of venues throughout Northwest Indiana, IBT has performed and taken classes in England, Germany, Italy, France/Paris, and performed for the British Legion in Hampshire and London. Many former IBT students have performed at the Big Red Boat, Cancun, Festival de Cozumel in Mexico, the Bahamas, Disney World in Florida and Euro Disney. Some students have taken dance exams in London, others competed and earned trophies in the US, Italy at Grand Prix, Youth American Grand Prix in Chicago, Wisconsin. Others have attended Chicago National Association of Dance Masters, won Youth Arts Awards, FAME, and gone onto to college for dance and returned with degrees and continue to pass on the legacy.

Some dancers have pursued careers on the Broadway stage, performing in Cats, and Cookie Monster for Sesame Street Live, Disney characters in Florida, modern/contemporary dance companies such as Happen Dance, performed at Joffrey Ballet Company, Sarasota Ballet, and others.  Many have been awarded scholarship with companies such as Milwaukee Ballet, and have been accepted at the Arts Academy in Chicago and Columbia College.

First performance at Lake of the Four Seasons Club House in 1978.
CEO/Founder Gloria Tuohy with pre-ballet students.

For more than 20 years, hundreds of our dancers have performed at the former Star Plaza Theatre in Merrillville, IN.  IBT performed twice a year at the beloved theatre. Those productions included The Nutcracker, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Firebird, Gaite Parisian, Swan Lake, Peter Pan, Thumbelina, Coppelia and a Tribute to the Armed Forces.

Kaleidoscope, IBT’s annual modern/contemporary concert, has been performed many times over 19 years at local theatres and in Chicago, under the direction of Amanda Tuohy, CDE and Director of Kaliedoscope. After years at IBT, Amanda studied at Columbia College, taught college dance programs and has been a member of Dance Collective. She is now Associate Artistic Director with Gloria Tuohy to stage the many productions of ballet.

 

AS THE COMPANY GREW:

Gloria Tuohy lobbied for the Georgian Revival style building in Lake County, a former Nurses Home built in 1930, and the last remaining of its kind, that has not been destroyed or repurposed.  The Lake County Commissioners donated the structure to Indiana Ballet Theatre with 1.7 acres of land. The goal for the structure and grounds is to become a permanent home for Indiana Ballet Theatre and cultural arts centre destination for the region, similar to other structures in Europe.  The historic landmark on the National Register of historic places, is nearly 20-thousand square feet, three floors, and a basement.  Plans for the culture arts centre include a black box theatre, which will include 85 seats donated by Star Plaza Theatre, a Tea Room or Carvery, and a historical room.  The future Classical Arts Centre (CAC) will include studios which will occupy the top floor, and other artists and arts organizations will be located on the second floor.  The basement will be used for much needed work and storage space for costumes and sets.  IBT will continue to serve as a fine arts organization in Northwest Indiana providing classical ballet and modern/contemporary productions.  IBT will have saved a piece of history, have a permanent home for its dancers and families, and provide a place to collaborate with other local arts organizations.  Regular dance classes, rehearsals, productions, recitals, special needs and senior citizen programming will all be offered at the building. The historical venue will make the region proud to have at the entrance of Crown Point.  IBT will continue its outreach studios in DeMotte and Valparaiso.  The future Classical Arts Centre will become the centre of our community.

The Classical Arts Centre would not be possible without the City of Crown Point and Lake County Commissioners who donated the building in 2017, and the generous support from community organizations. Work completed to date on the Classical Arts Centre project includes a fully restored exterior of the building.  This phase of the project is made possible thanks to the Crown Point Community Foundation, who kindly awarded IBT an $11,000 grant for windows and an additional $12,000 in 2017 for down spouts and gutters.  This helped put the finishing touches on the exterior preservation of the building.

Efforts to complete the interior and grounds continue. A capital campaign is in progress to support the balance of the project needs. We hope to open the CAC building in the winter of 2018-19.