Attendees of the upcoming Masquerade Ball not only have a chance to dress in costume but they can also contribute to Indiana Ballet Theater’s future home.
The annual gala on Oct. 7 at Halls of St. George in Schererville is the primary fundraiser for the Classical Arts Center project by Indiana Ballet Theatre, which currently has DeMotte, Merrillville and Valparaiso studios.
“This project began in earnest in 2017 when the Lake County Board of County Commissioners deeded the building and the ground that it sat on to Indiana Ballet Theater,” said Georgia Falkenberg, co-chair of the Masquerade Ball.
“Then they felt free to really rev up the renovations. The exterior of the building has been returned to its historic character. This building is on the National Register of Historic Places. I believe that the exterior cost about half a million to do so what we raised we spent on the building.”
Indiana Ballet Theater founder Gloria Tuohy has led the effort to renovate the 20,000-square-foot former Lake County Tuberculosis Sanatorium, Nurses Home and Superintendent’s House at 2323 N. Main St., Crown Point.
“The third floor will be the new studios of the Indiana Ballet Theater,” said Susan Crumrine, co-chair of the Masquerade Ball.
“The second floor will be rental space for area artists — visual and performing artists. Then the first floor will have a reception area, a theater space, a historical room, a carvery of sorts and a tearoom.”
Attire for the Masquerade Ball is semiformal with costume masks suggested.
“When people come in costume or at the very least a masquerade mask, it adds to the ambience and the energy in the room. The decorations this year are going to be spectacular,” said Crumrine of St. John.
“We’ll have special music at the beginning of the evening that will add to the (feel of) Old World Venetian masquerade balls that were in Europe. When people have that excitement, they have fun and they’re more likely to relax and spend money. We have a good cause.”
The gala includes entertainment by the Indiana Ballet Theater Dance Company and local magician Jim Klodzen, open dancing, raffles and games.
The event also features a family-style dinner coordinated by Halls of St. George executive chef Lynsi Alavanja and the opportunity to have pictures taken, printed and placed in a memento folder by local photographer Matt Scott for a fee.
“We will have a silent auction and a super silent auction. The super silent auction includes higher-end items than what would normally be in a silent auction, usually collectibles. We have some Nutcracker-themed items,” Crumrine said.
“We also have a live auction. We have a benefit auctioneer who will be doing the live auction.
“In the live auction we have some special collectibles that are being donated by one of our gala committee members. They are some items that she has in her family that are from The Walt Disney Co. Some of those are Serials. They are framed pictures of scenes from early movies such as ‘Cinderella.'”
Darin Lawson, owner and president of Wickliff Auctioneers in Carmel, handles the live auction.
The Masquerade Ball also features a paddle raise.
“It is straight donations from people toward a specific item or need in the building. They do not get anything in return except the satisfaction of helping to support the project,” said Falkenberg of Winfield.
“This year it is for outfitting the new Indiana Ballet Theater studio including floors, bars, mirrors and all the things that you would think of that a ballet studio would need. In fact, there are three studios on the top floor.
“We lead into that with a little talk by the president of the board of directors, who will present the subject. There will be a video that is shown. The auctioneer will start the bidding at $5,000 and go down incrementally — $2,500, $1,000, $500, $250, $100 and $50. We have a nice prize for the last $50 bidder.”
She added that people can support the Classical Arts Center in other ways.
“They can attend Indiana Ballet Theater performances,” Falkenberg said.
“Part of every performance’s proceeds — in fact, all of the money that is not used to pay staff or provide supplies or necessities to run Indiana Ballet Theater as a dance studio and a company, go toward the building.”
When: 6 pm Oct. 7
Where: Halls of St. George, 905 E. Joliet St., Schererville
Information: 219-755-4444; ibtnw.org/events
Jessi Virtusio is a freelance reporter for the Post-Tribune.