Raising The Barre: A Collaboration Of Two Artists

Photo of Louisville Ballet Artistic Director Bruce Simpson with Bittners President Douglas Riddle by Robert Burge.

Photo of Louisville Ballet Artistic Director Bruce Simpson with Bittners President Douglas Riddle by Robert Burge.


Douglas Riddle has a secret. Sometimes, when the workday reaches a frenetic pace, the president of Bittners slips away, walks the few blocks to the Louisville Ballet on East Main Street and stands silently in a corner of the studio, watching the dancers rehearse.

“It can be complete chaos, but if I watch them for ten minutes even, I return completely refreshed and inspired,” Riddle said.

That transference of creativity is one of the many reasons he is such an ardent supporter of the ballet and was long before he joined the board of directors.

Bruce Simpson, artistic director of the Louisville Ballet, was initially struck by Riddle’s “artistic sensitivity. … When I first started talking about Douglas coming on (the board), he said he wanted to be involved, intimately involved, and he wanted to examine how do we sustain a ballet company? I thought this was extraordinary.”

Part of the answer is pragmatic, Riddle and Simpson decided. In order to present a world-class ballet company to the community, you have to attract and keep world-class talent, a feat that must include a commitment to raise the dancers’ salaries.

Soon, the collaborative thought transpired into a brand-new event aptly titled, Raise The Barre.

The Oct. 27 soiree, which starts at 9:30 p.m., will be held at The Warehouse, 1237 S. 11th St., a facility that acts as a literal warehouse for the ballet company and stores 60 years of props and scenery. Riddle and Simpson are serving as artistic directors of the event, which is hosted by Marcia Guida James, Andy Vine, Meredith Bidner and Michelle Mudd. “It’s going to be late, edgy and every single person who attends will be excited,” said Simpson. “We can’t give away too much, but it’s really going to be spectacular.”

Riddle and Simpson are both known and respected in their respective fields. Attendees can expect they’ll pay the same attention to detail and delight in presenting the unexpected at Raise The Barre. Additionally, guests will have the opportunity to mix and mingle with the members of the Louisville Ballet.

“The world has changed. Dance has changed,” said Simpson. “You have to pay attention to how the community has changed.” Offering events that give people the opportunity to get up close ‘n’ personal with the creators of art is an important way to engage in interaction that will prove imperative and beneficial for years to come, he said.

“Mayor (Greg) Fischer is trying to get us all to ask the question, ‘How do we move forward over the next 25 years?’ At the Louisville Ballet, we’re trying to figure that out. We have to,” Simpson said. “The arts are an essential part of the fabric of our community.”

Raise The Barre begins at 9:30 p.m. Oct. 27 at The Warehouse, 1237 11th St. Tickets are $200. Call 502.583.3150 ext. 232 to reserve yours. Guests are encouraged to wear cocktail chic attire.

Contact Managing Editor Angie Fenton at angie@voice-tribune.com or 502.551.2698.