How did MSNBC host Chris Matthews ruin the hopes and dreams, and weekend plans, of Washington's young ballerinas?
Where, according to a very angry email sent to Matthews by Melissa Carney, the artistic director of the Ballet Petite & Youth Performing Arts School’s Ballet Performance Company, dozens of ballerinas had been scheduled to rehearse their "amazing full length production of The Nutcracker" involving "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."
Their plans were dashed when Matthews came along, wanting to use that same space, for his interview with the president. Which led American University to bump the ballerinas. Which led to the angry email, published in full on the blog Famous DC.
Here's a taste:
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.
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).
The Washington Post's Reliable Source reports that American University's facility department told the ballet company of the change in plans by email on Tuesday, writing that "We’re fully aware of the ramifications and grief this may cause at this late date.” AU also knocked $12,500 off the ballet school's $25,000 rental fee, according to the Post, a step toward meeting “the interests of all parties.”
But not all parties were feeling their interests to be met.
"A performance of the Nutcracker doesn't happen for my daughter every day either," Emily King, mother of an affected ballerina, complained to WUSA9.
“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 said in the email, which closes with the suggestion that Matthews consult local children's ballerina companies from now before making interview plans: "I hope you will take this situation into consideration when scheduling venues in the future."
“I kind of understand,” 13 year-old dancer Abby Perleman said to WJLA, taking a tempered approach. “It would have been better if there were more notice."