Young ballerinas sidelined for presidential interview

BETHESDA, Md. (WJLA) – More than a hundred young ballerinas are being sidelined by the Commander-in-Chief. American University is now hosting MSNBC’s “Hardball with Chris Matthews” in the space the dance company rented.

The dancers are moving out of Greenberg Theatre Thursday so that President Obama can move in for a town-hall interview with students. Now, Ballet Petite is frantically rearranging its plans to save the show.

You could call it the "ballerina blues."

“I feel a little mad that we didn't get to do our dress rehearsal," said eight-year-old Sune Hampanian.

Twelve-year-old Mica Maltzman agrees.

“Normally we have more time after we figure out all the kinks," she said.

The dancers who range in age from 5 to 15 were supposed to take the stage on AU’s campus for their dress rehearsal. Sunday kicks off the start of eight sold-out performances of The Nutcracker on the same stage. Many of the girls have never stepped foot on it before, and were looking forward to their run-through.

Ballet Petite Artistic Director Melissa Carney was disappointed to find out her dancers can no longer take the stage Thursday as planned.

“All I could think of is oh my goodness, I have to rearrange a whole lot of things," she said before sighing.

“I kind of understand,” said 13 year-old Abby Perleman of President Obama’s primetime interview taking center stage. “It would have been better if there were more notice," she admitted.

The dance company has used Greenberg Theatre for its annual show for nearly a decade. Carney says the rehearsal and performances were put on the theatre's calendar in January.

The dancers are now being forced to squeeze their dress rehearsal into the same day as their first performance.

American University apologized for the inconvenience and last-minute notice. Vice President for Communication Terry Flannery issued us this statement:

American University is hosting MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews and the President of the Unites States, tomorrow, Thursday, December 5. The selected venue was rented by Ballet Petite, a local dance company, for load-in, blocking and technical rehearsals of their annual performances of The Nutcracker, which begin on Sunday, December 8. None of the eight sold-out performances are cancelled.

The university worked with the dance company to reschedule the load-in and rehearsals, originally scheduled for December 4 and 5, in order to prepare for and host the visit. The new schedule is December 6 and 8.

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We regret the short notice, and do recognize the impact of the compacted time frame for preparations on the dancers and the company. As a result, the university is offering substantial concessions to the dance company for rental and labor and are working to accommodate the interests of all parties while ensuring that the show goes on for Ballet Petite.

As the saying goes, “the show must go on.” Nine-year-old Samantha Tate says it will even if it means an 11-hour dance day on Sunday.

“If we work hard, I think we can get through it," she said with a smile.