Dancers and stagehands work for donations in attempt to save the Pennsylvania Ballet

PIVOTAL PERFORMANCES

March 18, 1991|By Knight-Ridder News Service

PHILADELPHIA — Philadelphia--Usually, dancers perform for the public's pleasure. But these days at the Shubert Theater here, the Pennsylvania Ballet dancers are performing for the public's donations, and their own survival.

If $1 million isn't raised through the current save-the-ballet campaign, the dancers -- who now call themselves The Artists to Save the Pennsylvania Ballet -- will be heading for the unemployment line instead of their daily morning class.

Actress and dance enthusiast Mary Tyler Moore was here

Thursday to garner support for the ballet, which is in the midst of staging 10 days of performances which had been canceled last week when the company declared insolvency.

Ms. Moore, 53, began dancing as a pixie in a television commercial and until only a few years ago took ballet classes regularly. "My heart remains a dancer," she says. What brought her to the Philadelphia dancers is her longtime friendship with Christopher d'Amboise, director of the ballet, and his dancing family.

"When I heard that the dancers would work for nothing," Ms. Moore says, "I was touched. And when I heard that stagehands and musicians were also working for nothing, I was mightily impressed.

"This feeling of community is something we don't have much of today, but here are people willing to give to the community, and a community willing to give to the arts. We have to make the same kind of sacrifice the dancers and stagehands are making now."

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