The Logistics of the Indianapolis City Ballet’s Big Show

“Evening with the Stars” is just a hop, skip, and a jump away (November 12). Here, a backstage look at producing the Murat Theatre show.
For the last seven years, the Indianapolis City Ballet’s “Evening with the Stars” has served as the city’s grandest cultural event, one that finds the planet’s best ballet dancers delivering their greatest hits. It’s also a mixtape: Past shows have featured both classical performances and contemporary pieces with music by Radiohead. ICB’s project manager, Rainesford Stauffer, walked us through the steps of putting on the event.

Who are the “stars”?
Oh, just the best ballet dancers on Earth. Recent shows have included Robbie Fairchild (nominated for a Tony for his Broadway performance in An American in Paris) and Fabrice Calmels of the Joffrey Ballet (who holds a Guinness World Record for being the tallest ballet dancer). It takes a year to book those folks and plan the show. And even then, things sometimes go wrong. “Last year, we had a dancer who couldn’t make it,” says Stauffer. “But when the curtain went up, you would’ve never known another ballerina arrived here with 48 hours’ notice.

What’s the best way to pack a tutu?
Handmade and worth thousands of dollars, tutus aren’t exactly easy carry-ons. “While some costumes can be stashed in garment bags, tutus require a special bag that allows them to lie flat and keeps the tulle from getting smashed,” Stauffer says. Dancers often stash tutus in first class.

How many pairs of pointe shoes does each dancer bring?
Pointe shoes allow a dancer to stand on her toes and provide the illusion of floating on air. No two pairs are alike, and while there’s no standard number of shoes a dancer travels with, a ballerina can plow through three or more pairs every week. So, several.

What do the dancers do while in town?
Practice, mostly. But in 2011, dancers Katerina Placha, Patrick Frenette, and Veronika Verterich did a photo shoot at Victory Field. And this year, San Francisco Ballet principal ballerina Sofiane Sylve visited early for a Speedway tour—turns out she’s a huge fan of racing.

Do these world-class ballerinas even care about this show?
Stauffer assures us that they do. In 2010, Natalia Osipova and Ivan Vasiliev—veterans of the Bolshoi Ballet—performed a dance that had the audience on its feet. But the spotlights prevented the stars from seeing the auditorium, and Ivan was convinced the audience wasn’t giving them a standing ovation. So he made a pact with Natalia backstage to do whatever it took to get one for their next piece. Fired up, the pair returned—and got their second standing O of the night.