Persistence can be a good thing. But when up against the weather, sometimes it's best just to concede.

Just ask the Hamburg Ballet.

First, it was a storm at sea. The costumes for the ballet's much-anticipated Chicago performance at Harris Theater for Music and Dance, were stuck on a freighter and wouldn't arrive in time.

But people who work in the arts are nothing if not creative. John Neumeier, ballet director, talked with the Paris Opera Ballet, one of the few other companies whose repertoire includes Gustav Mahler's Third Symphony. Its costumes were flown to Chicago and altered in time for the performance.

Which didn't happen. The culprit this time? A thaw in the weather.

The temperature in long-shivering Chicago rose to a welcome 45 degrees. But that caused a leak that dripped water on and burned the controls for the Harris Theater's sprinkler system. And that abruptly ended the Hamburg Ballet's performance-day dress rehearsal.

What else do you do when smoke begins to rise on the stage, and it has nothing to do with dry ice or special effects? Did we mention that the theatre is mostly underground?

You cancel performances.

A disappointed Hamburg Ballet - about 100 dancers and staff members - could only return home to Germany.

Which it did without interference from cyclones or floods, but almost certainly with the sense that it's past time for blue skies and spring weather.