HOULTON, Maine — Professional ballet performances are not something you see often in Aroostook County, especially by the Maine State Ballet of Portland.
But the dancers are lending their talents to the Houlton Community Arts Center Council and the Houlton Regional Health Services Foundation this weekend to help those organizations raise money for improvement projects in the community.
Elizabeth Dulin, executive director of the Houlton Regional Health Services Foundation, said Maine State Ballet will perform “Peter and the Wolf” and “Western Roundup,” a ballet set to traditional Western music, staged and choreographed by Linda MacArthur Miele, on Friday and Saturday, June 3 and 4.
“The Houlton Community Arts Center Council and the Health Services Foundation are very excited that the time has finally arrived to showcase performances by the Maine State Ballet,” said Dulin. “The company showcases full-length ballets along with contemporary pieces in a varied repertoire of this highly versatile company under the direction of Ms. Miele.”
The foundation kicked off its campaign last October to raise money for a digital mammography machine for Houlton Regional Hospital to coincide with Breast Cancer Awareness Month. In the past few years, foundation grants have helped finance a handicapped-accessible van, a defibrillator for a local school, a new pediatric suite at the hospital and a new nuclear medicine imaging camera.
The foundation conducts fundraisers each year, has raffled off cars and artwork, and held concerts and other community events to help fill its coffers.
The foundation raised the money necessary in 2001 to purchase the hospital’s mammography equipment. Upgrading to digital mammography will cost $200,000.
Dr. James Madix, chief of radiology at Houlton Regional Hospital, said last year that digital is more sensitive and detects cancer with greater accuracy. He added that digital machines also make it possible to manipulate images by zooming in or adjusting contrast if there’s a suspected calcification or mass.
Digital mammography also will be quicker and easier to use, according to hospital officials. Similar-sized hospitals in Presque Isle, Caribou and Millinocket have it, but Houlton does not.
The money raised through the ballet also will benefit the Houlton Community Arts Center, located at Houlton High School, by helping to fund Phase Two of the arts center’s campaign to build an additional wing at the high school. The new wing will allow the high school to cater to more music and performing arts students, and also provide more room to host events.
Dulin said the Houlton Community Arts Center and the foundation thought the Maine State Ballet was a good way to bring cultural arts to the area while also raising money for the foundation.
Tickets are $15 per person and may be purchased at the Houlton Regional Health Services Foundation, York’s of Houlton, York’s Bookstore, the Houlton High School ofice and at the door.
For information on the Houlton Community Arts Center, call 532-6089 or visit www.houltonarts.org. For the Houlton Regional Health Services Foundation, call 521-2147 or visit www.healthservicesfoundation.org.