“I am deeply humbled and grateful to receive the Creative Renewal Arts Fellowship after 10 years of perseverance in this particular field in Indianapolis. The art of classical ballet and its rich history needs to be shared, and in return, supported by the community.”
Founder and Artistic Director of Indianapolis Ballet, Inc. and the Indianapolis School of Ballet, Victoria Lyras’ renewal project was to produce the first glimpse of the ballet, Macunchis and William: A Tale of Love and Disillusion. The libretto, written by local author, critic, and historian Rita Kohn, is based on a true story recalling the marriage between William Conner, a trader with the Native Americans along the White River and his first wife, Macunchis, the daughter of Lenape Chief Anderson.
Lyras chose to choreograph the first encounter of William Conner and Macunchis and their immediate attraction to one another. The two dancers selected to portray Macunchis and William were Indianapolis School of Ballet senior Alexandra Jones and Noah Trulock, company dancer with Dance Kaleidoscope. This multi-layered project involved not only choreography but costume design. Lyras’ research took her to Conner Prairie Historical Park and the Eiteljorg Museum. She also worked with Dee and Annette Ketchum, as well as Michael Pace, descendants of Macunchis. With the wrap of her first look at Macunchis and William, Lyras traveled to New York City, where she attended several live dance performances. Observing the works of Christopher Wheeldon, an internationally recognized choreographer, proved to be a tremendous inspiration for her.
The fellowship gave Lyras a sense of accomplishment and a feeling of tremendous privilege by placing her in a distinct group of peers, and helping her cultivate friendships with artistic directors, and executives of other organizations. She found the assurance needed to take more entrepreneurial risks for artistic and organizational growth.