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Aerial dance scrapped

Logistical issues thwarted arts council’s commissioned Olympic performance piece

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Stakeholders were expecting a dramatic, jaw-dropping performance from great heights.

"Off this 25-foot structure, it's sort of like, 'so what?'" Niedermayer said.

"...We're Whistler, we're used to watching people hurl themselves off cliffs," she added.

WAC and the dance company went back to the drawing board again to discuss the possibility of bringing a larger, 50-foot truss structure into Mountain Square. But all parties quickly agreed that it would be too much of an imposition on the surrounding businesses, and the cost would be too high.

WAC took its concerns to the groups that were partnering on the project, like the RMOW and the Cultural Olympiad.

"It came down to logistics and what the piece required," Niedermayer explained. "It actually required more than we could afford to pull it towards something that we would be very proud of."

They made the difficult decision to pull the plug on the performance in early March, immediately following the rehearsals. Since then, Niedermayer points out that the overall budget for Whistler Live! has changed significantly, with a large chunk of funds redirected from performances along the stroll back towards the Medals Plaza.

"We'd already invested so much money and so much time, and it just was not possible."

The cancelled project used up a $100,000 grant from the federal Arts Partners in Creative Development program, which is intended to support commissioned works for the 2010 Games, plus about $10,000 in additional funds.

While Arts Partners in Creative Development has expressed disappointment in the performance falling through, Niedermayer said they recognize that there are risks associated with commissioning original work.

"Sometimes that risk may not pay off, so not every piece of music that Beethoven wrote or every piece of writing that the great authors wrote went to print," Niedermayer said.

Now, WAC is forging ahead, working on new projects and working with their partners to plan Whistler's entertainment offerings during the Games.

"For me, personally, that was only one piece. I never felt that that was our only piece or the only thing that we were going to do," Niedermayer said.

She's hoping to showcase local performers alongside the bigger entertainment acts, helping them to capitalize on Games-time opportunities.

"We are showcasing ourselves to the world because we actually have talent that's worthy of that - we have excellent photographers and visual artists," she said.

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