Ex-students worry for ballet’s future at Friends University
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Some former students of the ballet program at Friends University say the sudden departure of its founders raises questions about the program’s future.
Stan Rogers recently confirmed he will leave the university after the Friends commencement Saturday. His ex-wife Sharon Rogers confirmed this week she’s also leaving the university, the Wichita Eagle reported .
“I would not have made this decision if Stan were still there,” Sharon Rogers said.
The two started Rogers Ballet Inc. three decades ago, and have run the ballet school together despite no longer being married. Sharon Rogers taught classes in tap, jazz and other dance forms, but the program focused primarily on classical ballet.
Current and former students have raised questions about the situation since the announcement, some wondering if the retirements were voluntary.
“What many people are taking issue with and why there are so many people up in arms about this is because we do not believe this (retirement) is on their terms,” said said Nicole Avery, who danced under the couple for nearly a decade. “We want transparency from the university, transparency from the administration. That’s what we want.”
Friends is beginning to search for new faculty to continue the program, according to Gisele McMinimy, university spokeswoman. Friends has the only four-year ballet degree program in Kansas.
“I can say with a level of gut certainty that there is something amiss with this retirement,” said Avery, who graduated from Friends in 2000. “Under no circumstances would such a departure be so abrupt, with no galas, no fanfare, no party to celebrate the life’s work of someone who has not only poured himself into his work and his students but created the very foundation it stands on. Something is very wrong here.”
Information from: The Wichita (Kan.) Eagle, http://www.kansas.com