Question: After three decades, are people still surprised to hear that there is an
Papa: You know, I get that all the time. We've been here for 32 years in and out of the city and all around the area, and it's just amazing that people still say, "Oh! I didn't know we had a ballet company here," and they're pleasantly surprised. Every real city has a ballet company. Luckily, now that we're able to perform in the city and we're here in the city regularly, we're going to start developing this audience.
Q: How is Boardwalk Hall going?
Papa: It's fabulous. The CRDA [
Q: How do the dancers like it?
Papa: They love it. They love the floor. They love being in the city. They moved into the city, too. They just walk down
Q: It's what people want to happen to the entire city, bringing in artists, dancers.
Q: How long is the season?
Papa: Most ballet companies start in September and finish in March or April. About two years ago, I said that doesn't work in this town. We're a summer town. This year, because we did get the
Q: Being in Boardwalk Hall, have you had any encounters with
Papa: One of the girls who was
Q: Have any of your dancers moved into casino work, become showgirls?
Papa: Actually, I have a boy who was an apprentice to my very first company. He's now 52. He had been dancing in
I had a couple of girls as showgirls after they did ballet. I have one in Vegas as a showgirl.
Q: Describe the company.
Papa: The dancers come from
All of the dancers are classically trained. However, my choreography involves jazz, modern ethnic dance. I mix it in with the ballet. My Dracula -- if someone's never seen Dracula before or a ballet -- this is the perfect thing to come and see. It's not what you think.
Q: How did you get this gig?
Papa: I was asked to come here. Resorts had seen me in a performance. They had no art here. They asked if I'd be interested in starting a company in
Q: You've survived longer than some of the casinos.
Papa: You might say that. It's been hard, at times, extremely difficult trying to get funding.
Q: Do the casinos send people over?
Papa: Definitely. We're trying to get the casinos to get their people who love the ballet to come and see the ballet. It's another alternative to having a great city. Not everyone wants to gamble. We have to make this city so they can go shopping, have lunch, go to the ballet, to a museum. They can go to the
Q: Some of the art projects seem to catch on and some of them don't.
Papa: It's going to happen. It's turning already. With our new mayor, how can it not happen?
Q: With the news this summer about Showboat and the Revel possibly closing, people feel that the city is in free fall.
Papa: No. I think it's going to come right around back. If we all do our part,
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