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LehrerDance board fires founder, shutters company

LehrerDance, Buffalo's only professional dance company to regularly perform outside Western New York, closed in early February.

In a statement emailed to The Buffalo News Thursday, the company's Board of Directors announced it had terminated founder and artistic director Jon Lehrer Feb. 7.

The board's statement also said the company was in the process of "determining the organization's financial status."

"In the next few weeks, board members will be reaching out to the company’s creditors, supporting foundations and friends," the LehrerDance board's statement read. "We will comment further when the situation clarifies, but for now, LehrerDance has ceased operations."

The board did not immediately respond to questions about the nature of the company's issues, or what motivated its decision to fire Lehrer.

Lehrer, a Queens native and University at Buffalo graduate known for his ebullient and energetic style of choreography, formed the company in Chicago and moved it to Buffalo in 2007. He and his tightknit corps of young dancers quickly established a home base at UB's Center for the Arts and launched a series of national and international tours.

LehrerDance most recently performed Feb. 3 in Plattsburgh's Strand Center for the Arts.

Reached by phone in Chicago Thursday, Lehrer confirmed that the company had been shuttered, but suggested it might live on in another form.

Lehrer, 45, said that LehrerDance Inc. has been dissolved "as far as I know."

"I'm not at liberty to talk more about that because it is all being handled by the Board of Directors," he added. "That's all I can say about that at this time."

Lehrer said the company, in some form, is still slated to embark on a two-month European tour in March and April to fulfill its obligations to the venues it has booked.

"The 'we' is slightly different, but the 'what' is still the same. It's still the same artistic vision, it's still the same thing that made us who we are and who we will continue to be," he said. "After that, it's looking for the future, it's looking forward and making something better and learning from this."

The dissolution of the company was confirmed Thursday by former LehrerDance board member Frank Ciccia, though he did not offer any information about what led to the decision.

During its time in Buffalo, LehrerDance built connections with institutions such as the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, MusicalFare Theatre, the Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts and the Burchfield Penney Art Center.

"We always called them our house dance troupe," said Scott Propeack, Burchfield Penney's interim co-director, who praised the group for its artistic excellence.

Their programs, he added, were "uniquely suited to the Burchfield Penney, our artists and the community."

More coverage of LehrerDance from The Buffalo News archives:

To Russia with love for LehrerDance

LehrerDance off to a stunning start; First local concert of season is strong

Dancing? proud ;LehrerDance to appear in prestigious series at CFA

An auspicious performance by LehrerDance

BPO, LehrerDance presenting 'Siddhartha' at UB

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