Thursday, September 2, 2021

She thought she was reporting on the "Fyre Fest" of ballet, but then the story ended in death

Alice Robb for Vanity Fair on a ballet company started by a passionate Trump supporter. Two excerpts:

ANB pledged to redress not only height and size discrimination, but the notorious whiteness of classical ballet. Each new hire—at the behest of their new bosses—posted a photo on Instagram with a hashtag: #WeEmbraceDiversity or #ANBFamily. [One of the recruits] had spent years as the only Black dancer at Los Angeles Ballet before deciding to join ANB. “There was so much hope for what could happen with this new company,” he said.

And in a world where even the most established companies struggle for funding, ANB seemed to have no shortage of cash. The fledgling troupe—47 dancers in all—reportedly had an annual budget of $2.5 million, and its dancers were promised eight-month contracts, health insurance, and—for those who had been recruited from Germany or Argentina or Estonia—American visas.

The dancers had been urged to sign year-long leases at a luxury apartment complex


The seeds of the American National Ballet had been planted a year earlier, in the summer of 2016, when [the couple that founded it] met at the Palm Beach home of Ben Carson, after he ended his presidential campaign. It was a coup de foudre. At 54, divorced and widowed once each, [he] was confident and charismatic, slightly grizzled but still handsome. [At twenty-four-years-old, she] was classically beautiful, with bright blue eyes, glossy brown hair, and the elegant poise of a dancer. “We started talking and never stopped,” [she] said. She sounded wistful when we spoke for the first time back in 2018, even as she was seeking a restraining order against him. [She] had been a member of Donald Trump’s campaign entourage, traveling to rallies and working in the campaign’s Florida office, while [he]  was close with some of Carson’s big donors. Both were passionate about God and the Second Amendment.