The Israel Ballet (IB) turned 40 this year and is celebrating with a year long gala of performances which will include a renewal of Berta Yampolsky's "Romeo and Juliet" that premiered 10 years ago. Meanwhile, and it's the second artistic institution after the Israel Philharmonic to be so honored, the IB will be the guest of the Knesset at the invitation of Acting President Dalia Itzik on March 19. There will be speeches and a performance of selected pieces from the rich IB repertory. This Saturday there will also be a repeat performance of "Cinderella" at Jerusalem's Sherover Theater so that all the people who were turned away at Hanukka will have a chance to see this popular piece, also choreographed by founding artistic director Yampolsky. She and husband Hillel Markman founded the IB on a wing and a prayer and four other dancers in 1967. In those days, and even since, nobody was interested hearing much about classical ballet, so the struggle to establish and fund the company was very tough. But nagging and excellence are a powerful combination, so today the company has 35 dancers, its own home (only since 2004), a growing audience that includes many young people, a school, a youth outreach program and a repertoire of classical and contemporary ballets that includes more than 20 choreographed by Yampolsky.