Dancing off the Edge: Cedar Lake's Farewell Season

© Sharen Bradford

The contemporary ballet company stages its last performances this summer. 

In late March, devastating news shook the American dance community: Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet, one of the nation’s most talented avant-garde troupes, would shutter in June per a decision by its founder and primary source of capital, Walmart heiress Nancy Laurie. Many U.S. dance companies commission new work, but few did so with the fervor of Cedar Lake. Only 10 years old and 16 dancers strong, Cedar Lake built a repertory that, in breadth of taste and geographic reach, looked like that of an established European company. And they were just getting started. “We needed our first 10 years to focus on who we are,” says Alexandra Damiani, a French native who just completed her first year as artistic director. Speaking before the announcement, Damiani said Cedar Lake was ready for “a new chapter to open,” words that seem bittersweet now. The company’s upcoming season at the Brooklyn Academy of Music will be its last and will feature five exclusive works by five choreographers. As Damiani explained, it’s the perfect showcase for the company’s astoundingly versatile dancers: “It’s simple and very genuine. I’ve been told that during the piece, people cry.” Tears may be inevitable for other reasons, too. From June 3 to 6 at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, 30 Lafayette Ave.; bam.org.