Saturday, April 13, 2002

Ballet program spotlights diversity

Tickets selling despite boycott

By Jennifer Mrozowski,
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Two African-American guest dancers for the Cincinnati Ballet received a lot of attention for performing here Friday despite some groups' call for an economic boycott of the city.

        But one of those dancers had a simple answer.

        “This is my life,” said Linda Denise Fisher-Harrell. “It's very unfortunate what's going on in the city, but I'm here to dance.”

        Ms. Fisher-Harrell is performing a solo titled ""Cry'' in Cincinnati Ballet's “Come Together Festival” this weekend at the Aronoff Center downtown. Visiting dancer Desmond Richardson, also African-American, is performing a solo titled ""Growth.''

        The production showcases multiculturalism through diverse dances and choreography, as well as the ethnic and cultural backgrounds of the performers. The diversity effort began before the city's riots last year.

        Susan Eiswerth, public relations manager for the Cincinnati Ballet, said Friday that ticket sales for the performances already surpassed expectations.

        “Our ticket sales are really booming,” she said.

        That's despite the boycott groups' call to protest what they consider widespread racial and economic injustice in Cincinnati. Performers who have honored the boycott include Bill Cosby, Wynton Marsalis and Smokey Robinson.

        Two ballet-goers, one black and one white, who were standing outside before the performance said they supported the idea behind the boycott but were not observing it.

        “We and our friends have been coming downtown because we live in the city and we want to support the life of the city — the arts and restaurants,” said Barbara Jenkins of Walnut Hills.


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