Chris Matthews’ Obama interview bumps, inconveniences child ballet dancers

Patrick Howley Political Reporter
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MSNBC host Chris Matthews and President Obama kicked a children’s ballet company out of its performing space at the last minute to tape a television interview, turning the “lives of 150 young dancers upside down.”

Matthews’ interview with Obama Thursday bumped the Ballet Petite & Youth Performing Arts School’s Ballet Performance Company off American University’s Greenberg Theatre in Washington, D.C., The Daily Caller has learned.

Company artistic director Melissa Carney told TheDC that she only found out from the theatre “around noon yesterday” that her company was getting bumped, and received no word from MSNBC. “A lot of the parents are really upset, of course,” Carney said.

Carney sent a letter to Matthews informing him of the toll his actions are taking on ballet dancers, who are as young as five years old.

“Today at noon I was informed that your show has taken precedence over our annual production of The Nutcracker,” Carney wrote in her letter to Matthews, obtained by TheDC. “Our 150 dancers ages 5-18 work endlessly for 4 months to put on an amazing full length production of The Nutcracker each year. We have 8 SOLD OUT performances, 2 casts with approximately 80 dancers in each cast, and patrons who travel from all over the world to see the show. I understand the importance of your upcoming interview with President Obama but I would like for you to know how your choice in venues has turned the lives of 150 young dancers upside down.”

“Your interview has forced our young dancers out of a space we scheduled with American University in January. Wednesday night (12/4) was scheduled to be a blocking rehearsal and Thursday (12/5) a full technical and dress rehearsal for the dancers. We were given 28 hours notice of that our rental had been bumped by your show,” Carney wrote.

“We intentionally create a rehearsal and performance schedule that allows for our young dancers to feel challenged but not overwhelmed. Since rescheduling 2 SOLD OUT performances is not an option for our patrons (keeping in mind that many fly in from around the country and world) and canceling the performances would crush the hearts of the young dancers who have worked endlessly since August, we have been forced to create an extremely long, overwhelming, and tiring schedule on opening day in order to bring this production of The Nutcracker to the Greenberg Theatre stage. The dancers now have a 12 hour day in store for them on our opening day (Sunday 12/8),” Carney wrote.

“My staff and I work tirelessly to create a nurturing environment with challenges that build confident and beautiful dancers. We are all very concerned about how this change in the schedule will affect their experience,” Carney added. “I hope you will take this situation into consideration when scheduling venues in the future.”

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