The Great Gatsby – That’s a Wrap!

November 12, 2015

Lane Web

Written by: Soloist Tess Lane


A big thank you to our audiences for your support of our premier of The Great Gatsby!  The applause and standing ovations proved that our weeks and weeks of hard work paid off.  Our audiences’ energy and enthusiasm in the theater fills us all with incredible joy.


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The feeling at the end of a wonderful run is always bittersweet, and we have many people to thank for making The Great Gatsby such a success: Jared Nelson, for not only starring in the ballet, but also for setting the entire work on the company, Septime Webre for the brilliant choreography, Billy Novick and The Blue Syncopators for their phenomenal playing and energy, and everyone onstage, backstage, and in the audience for bringing such a new, exciting show to San Diego!  KPBS called “Septime Webre’s version … an exciting production, and a strong representative of ballet’s changing landscape.”


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That being said, this time of year is one of many traditions, and though we’re still dancing The Charleston in our sleep, the company is already rehearsing for The Nutcracker!  While Gatsby was a new style and new choreography, The Nutcracker is our staple each season and provides us dancers a chance to improve upon last year’s performances or try a new part we’ve been hoping to perform.  We’re trading our jazz band, champagne glasses, and flapper dresses for a symphony orchestra, snowflakes, and tutus.  ’Tis the season, after all!


Please join us for The Nutcracker this December (




See KPBS’s thoughts on The Great Gatsby here:

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The Official Legs of California Ballet, Revealed!

October 21, 2015

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You’ve seen the legs all over town in San Diego. They’re on billboards. They’ve been online. They’ve been in the newspaper. Perhaps you went to see a production at The Old Globe or the San Diego Civic Theatre, opened the program . . . and there they were: legs in mid-Charleston proclaiming that The Great Gatsby is coming to San Diego!


Did you ever wonder to whom those legs might belong?


It is our pleasure to introduce the Official Legs of the California Ballet:


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Brigitte Edwards



Brigitte has been a part of the California Ballet family for a very long time. She started as a little girl  in the California Ballet School, a focused and dedicated student. She swiftly advanced through the class levels and has become a young accomplished dancer. While she excels in ballet, she received training in jazz, contemporary, musical theater, and even flamenco! Always seeking to expand her training and expertise, Brigitte spent the last five summers training with the School of American Ballet.


If you’re a California Ballet fan, you’ve seen Brigitte onstage many times. She’s appeared in Sleeping Beauty as the White Cat, A Midsummer Night’s Dream as a Fairy, and The Nutcracker as a very memorable Clara and most recently as the Snow Queen.


Of course, this isn’t the first time we’ve used her leg. California Ballet is proud of our Sharing the Art program. A part of this program is our Military Night at the Ballet. Every year we offer hundreds of complimentary tickets to members of the military and their family. Brigitte’s legs made their first appearance as the Official Legs of the California Ballet two years ago in this wonderful image!



We are so very proud of Brigitte and all of her artistic accomplishments, and we are delighted to introduce her to you. Look for her onstage in The Great Gatsby this weekend, and again in The Nutcracker this December – both at the San Diego Civic Theatre.

Get your tickets to The Great Gatsby at

Get your tickets to The Nutcracker at

Spotlight on the Dancer: Kirsten Bloom Allen

October 15, 2015

For our first program of the season, Septime Webre’s The Great Gatsby, we are extremely fortunate to have principal guest artists Jared Nelson and Kirsten Bloom Allen join us to portray Jay Gatsby and Daisy Fay Buchanan.  Mr. Nelson retired from The Washington Ballet this past spring and has come out of retirement to reprise this role which he originated.  Mrs. Allen retired from the Sacramento Ballet in 2010 to start her family, but performed Sugar Plum Fairy in Sacramento Ballet’s Nutcracker in 2014 and is now making her debut as Daisy in our production of The Great  Gatsby.  We couldn’t be more pleased to have them both!


This week we had the chance to speak with Kirsten about her very first ballet class, her family, and her long partnership with Mr. Nelson.


Tess: Can you tell us how you started dancing? Being a ballet dancer is not the easiest career; what pushed you to pursue a career in dance?


Kirsten Bloom Allen: I remember my first ballet class vividly, even though I was only five years old at the time.  That’s the same age as my oldest son, Ben!  I really never wanted to do anything else.  Even during that very first class I felt something really important was happening in that studio.  It felt like a special place and I loved being there.


T: It seems many female dancers struggle with balancing their careers and creating a family, especially given how physical our work is.  You have two young sons, and though you took a few years off you’ve been dancing up a storm the past few years!  When you retired from Sacramento Ballet, did you intend to return to the stage after starting your family?


KBA:  When I retired from Sacramento Ballet I was three months pregnant with our first son, Ben.  I honestly didn’t know where life was taking me, I just dived into motherhood and I’ve loved every minute of it!  Shortly after we had Ben, we discovered we were pregnant with our second son, Nate, who’s now three.  With two young boys, I didn’t have much time to think about dancing again, but, once the boys were out of infancy, the desire to dance came back and I performed the Sugar Plum Fairy with Sacramento Ballet in 2013.  I meant to perform one Alumni Performance with them, but due to injuries in the company I wound up doing many more shows!  Shortly after that Jared and I started meeting in the ballet studio here in San Diego to put together a few contemporary duets .  He and I have been dancing together ever since!


T: Speaking of Jared, how did you two meet?  Can you tell us what your first experience was dancing together?


KBA: Oh, Jared and I met at Sacramento Ballet when I was 21 and he was 16.  Right away our directors loved our chemistry.  We were put together as partners and danced absolutely everything together: classical ballets, Balanchine works, and contemporary repertoire.  We grew very close and have danced together and been dear friends for nearly 20 years!  The first year we did Nutcracker together we were cast as Sugar Plum and Cavalier, and even though we rehearsed for hours and hours in the studio, we would still co home and lie on the floor, hold hands, and just listen to our music.


T: What an wonderful partnership!  It’s been a while since you two danced together in Sacramento, how do you feel your partnership has developed since then?


KBA:  Jared left Sacramento in 2000 to dance as a principal with Washington Ballet in DC, but he returned often each season to guest with Sacramento Ballet.  Each time he returned we would reignite our partnership and continued to love dancing together.  I feel our partnership has grown deeper over the years and I believe we ignite each other on many different levels and find a deeper passion for dance through one another.


T: That sounds like a true partnership.  You two are partners for your own charitable organization as well, The Artist Society.  Can you speak about what motivated you to form the organization?  What do you see for its future?


KBA: The Artist Society is a performing arts group that joins art with giving back to the community.  Jared and I both believe very strongly in the power and beauty of these elements!  We had a wonderfully successful performance in June to support Shriners Hospital for Children in Sacramento, and we’re in the process of creating our next show!


T: That sounds wonderful!  Thank you so much for taking the time to share with us!  Is there anything else you’d like to say?


KBA: Of course!  Jared and I are very excited to be dancing with California Ballet Company for The Great Gatsby.  There’s such a swirl of excitement around this production!  It is, without a doubt, the most spectacular ballet San Diego has produced.

Thanksgiving at the Ballet

November 26, 2014

The Nutcracker rehearsals are in full swing at the California Ballet! Fresh off the heels of our latest production, Giselle, the dancers have wasted no time preparing for their respective roles in the season’s biggest production. However we dancers aren’t all work and no play for this season also brings one of the company’s biggest events, THANKSGIVING. This holiday is one of only a handful of days off that the company gets from a rigorous schedule of company classes, rehearsals, private coaching sessions and body conditioning exercise. It’s a time for friends, family and most of all FOOD! We checked in with a couple company members to see what a ballet dancer eats during one of our country’s biggest and most indulgent holidays.

Corps Member John Velasco and Soloist Jeremy Zapanta celebrate in a “big” way: 


“We come from big Filipino families where there is way too much food for way too many people. It’s multi generational with friends and family members alike. There is both American food and traditional Filipino cooking always, so everybody’s happy. It’s the best of both worlds. I have one rule though-no rules. I don’t hold back and eat the whole day” says John.   

NewImage“My favorite is Tosilog (cured pork or chicken with garlic fried rice and a sunny side up egg). It’s the best! And here’s plenty because so many people come over for the holiday.” Jeremy says. “It’s like the Filipino cardinal rule to never run out of anything!” 


Corps Member Kayla Jaynes’ Thanksgiving is a little less bombastic: “It’s just my immediate family for Thanksgiving ince all of our other family is spread across the US. I’m always in charge of the mashed potatoes. That’s my contribution!” she laughs. “I get full really easily and only have about one plate of food. I guess that’s good because I don’t really have to watch what I eat!” Her go to: Martinelli’s Apple Cider with pumpkin pie for dessert. Kayla has just turned twenty one last month so perhaps she might add something more than her apple cider to her tradition.


Principal Ballerina Chie Kudo, fresh from her portrayal of Giselle earlier this month, is also looking forward to the holiday. All my family is back in Japan so I’m just going to spend time with my close friends here.” When asked about what she loves to cook up for the holidays she confesses: “I have such a sweet tooth. I love to eat sweet things.” But during Thanksgiving she only has eyes for one thing “I love stuffing!” she says. Speaking of sweet things, Chie will be performing the iconic role of the Sugar Plum Fairy in California Ballet’s The Nutcracker this December. 


New  Principal Ana da Costa confesses that she doesn’t do too much for Thanksgiving. Originally from Brazil where the holiday isn’t really celebrated, she goes on further to explain, “I am just going to spend time with family here but my tradition is to work my appetite all the way up to Christmas. That’s when I eat everything! Well, not everything, I am a vegetarian, almost vegan and I have some wonderful recipes that I have for celebrating the Christmas holiday” she says between company class and her rehearsal for Sugar Plum Fairy.


Although there are a number of both male and female dancers who live on donuts, candy and soda without any consequence, the majority fuel themselves with healthy things that help them perform to the best of their abilities. Moreover it’s a special occasion holiday so the dancers shouldn’t really worry about what or how much they eat though, because it’s back in the studio for Nutcracker rehearsal on Saturday! With only a couple of weeks to go before opening night we are putting the final touches on our production. 

Whatever your plans are for the upcoming festivities we wish you a happy and healthy holiday from California Ballet Company!

Ballet Pip to Ballet Pro

November 21, 2014

Ballerinas are know for their grace, beauty, and athleticism. Rarely do you get a chance to hear one speak, and they are not generally known for their eloquence.

Here’s a truth for you: Most ballerinas are unbelievably smart, well-spoken, and thoughtful.

In this post, we provide you with a rare glimpse into a dancer’s mind as California Ballet Corps de Ballet dancer Amanda Daly recounts her time with The Nutcracker, and what the perennial classic means to this amazing young dancer.

Through a Dancer’s Eyes: The Nutcracker

Written by: Amanda Daly

NewImage     When you ask most people to describe the holiday season, they’ll tell you about the change in weather, the lights suddenly glowing from houses and in public spaces, the ice rink that springs into existence at Horton Plaza, the red cups at Starbuck’s. They’ll tell you about a thousand things that set this time of year apart, a certain shift in energy as people direct their attention to friends, family, and traditions both religious and secular. 

     For me, the holidays are almost synonymous with The Nutcracker. For me, the holiday season means Tchaikovsky, the eye rolls when I hear the music for the Russian variation on almost every commercial, the smell of makeup and hairspray, the red seats at the Civic Theater. Definitely the red Starbuck’s cups. Caffeine and warmth are essential this time of year. From the moment I start doubling up on legwarmers, I know it’s only a matter of time before I literally have visions of sugarplums dancing around in my head. 


     I was four years old when I first performed in California Ballet Company’s Nutcracker as a Bon-Bon, and it was another four years until I graduated to the rank of Small Soldier #3 in the battle scene, which means I must have been pretty tiny as a child. From there I worked my way through most of the children’s roles; twin girl in the family scene, lollipop, reindeer, cavalry, courtier, rosebud. I bounced around from scene to scene as my height and abilities changed, and began understudying for the corps de ballet roles – Waltz of the Flowers and Snowflakes – when I was 15.

     In fact, the first time I ever danced a corps spot full-out was during a snow scene rehearsal. One of the dancers was absent that day, and when the rehearsal director asked who her understudy was, I was pointed out. The next 8 minutes, dear reader, were eye-opening. Things started off fairly well; I knew the steps and thought I was doing a pretty good job of not embarrassing myself, of keeping my feet pointed and my legs turned out and such. I was very probably wrong about that, but at the time I was pretty confident I could keep up. 

CBCNut1 copy     As we neared the four-minute mark, however, things began to change, very rapidly, for the worse. I was tired. The music felt like it was getting faster. It had to be getting faster. I started to feel the burning in my legs and chest and knew that I was in trouble. At least I was still getting to all the right places, at mostly the right time.

     Six minutes in, I felt my feet start to cramp. I knew I was running, jumping mostly flat-footed, but I kept going. If I could just make it until the end, then at least I could say I had done it. Just about then, we were supposed to make a small circle around one of the tall dancers. More specifically, I was supposed to lead a small circle around one of the tall dancers. In the split second before I started running, I told myself I could do this. I was wrong, and was immediately passed by one, two, three company members. “Aren’t you supposed to be in front?” one of them asked as she sprinted by. I tried to look apologetically at her, hoping that I could somehow convey without words that yes, I knew I was supposed to be in front, but that my legs felt like sandbags and that I didn’t know how hard this was going to be, and didn’t she remember her first time dancing with the corps? I was going to tell her all this with my eyes, but as soon as I turned my head, she had already been replaced by another impossibly fast corps member giving me an equally puzzled look. I gave up on looking like a ballet dancer and flat out sprinted to the next place I had to be. The last two minutes I tried to pretend I wasn’t there. 

     When it was all over, I was red, sweaty, and trembling. I sat down right where I was and watched the older girls, daintily pink and glowing with a few well-placed beads of perspiration on their foreheads, listening to corrections and practicing the steps they needed to improve. I was awed at their ability to keep dancing when I had all I could do to breathe normally and reassure myself that my legs would indeed move again, one day. I learned two important things that day: never underestimate the work of the corps de ballets, and maybe cardio cross-training isn’t such a bad idea.


     Today, with almost nine seasons of corps work under my belt, I’ve discovered that snow scene never really gets easier; you just get better at building your stamina, and hiding the trembling in your legs when it’s over. You still have to bow, after all. 


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    The Nutcracker continues to be both a learning experience and a holiday tradition for me. There’s nothing quite like walking through downtown San Diego in December and entering the Civic theater through the stage door, where you are greeted by the giant pink Sugarplum throne still onstage from the night before, and the warm red seats of the house. Like most people, there are a thousand tiny things that I look forward to during Nutcracker season, regardless of how many years I have spent dancing this ballet; bundling up before class, picking out your favorite headpieces, arranging your costumes in your dressing room. Hearing the San Diego Symphony tuning their instruments right before the show is one of my favorite sounds in the world, and even though I’ve heard the first few bars of the overture hundreds of times, I can still feel the warmth and joy in them, and I love knowing that there are people in the audience experiencing that for the first time.


To see Amanda perform in this year’s The Nutcracker, go online to!

Eat, Pray, Dance

November 7, 2014

California Ballet Company dancer John Velasco spent his summer vacation traveling in Italy. He spent his time experiencing the culture, cuisine, and art that the birthplace of the Western Renaissance has to offer. His most memorable experiences were in Florence, home of the famed Medici family, Botticelli, Michelangelo, and Donatello.

Mr. Velasco came away from the experience with his mind spinning, and we are excited to be able to share his thoughts with our fans and friends.

Eat, Pray Dance

Written by: John Velasco

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THE best meal I’ve probably ever had in my life. It’s like I hadn’t ever had Italian food until that day. It changed my perception of food and how food can affect you. I felt like I weighed a metric ton afterwards though, especially since I had promised myself to not do a single pirouette nor plié during my only two weeks of freedom from the ballet. Besides, this was Florence, the birthplace of the renaissance! There was so much to see, do, obviously eat, but most importantly to learn. 

Although the present day vocabulary and canon of ballet is French, the origins of ballet seem to have had a more complex genealogy. While it was the French court of Louis XIV that capitalized and encouraged the growth of the art, ballet’s true progenitor was during the renaissance, in the land of Pizzas, Piazzas and Pasta! It is almost impossible to list all of the achievements in art, technology and philosophy that the renaissance has spawned, but one can see clearly that its thoughts and ideas are still relevant even today. 


However, if there is one singular expression of humanity’s timeless relevance, it is found in the statue of Michelangelo’s David in the Akkademia in Florence.  He is perfect, an ideal, an icon, a message of defiance, of indomitability. His muscles look like mine! Those quadriceps, those calves! I begin to wonder, was Michelangelo a ballet dancer? Was there a model used for the David? Was the model a ballet dancer in the renaissance courts? It is so strange and eerie to come face to face with an inanimate object hewn from the earth more than half a millennium ago, based on a story that is four times that age and therein seeing my own living and breathing humanity staring back at me. It really is a spectacle. 

Botticelli Venus

David was not the only iteration of this realization I had in Florence. It was everywhere. In the Uffizi Gallery down the street, Sandro Botticelli’s Venus and Primavera were strikingly balletic in their fluidity and grace. Nay rather that ballet seems “Botticellic” in its fluidity and grace. Then there’s Filippo Brunelleschi’s own Goliath, the Duomo at Santa Maria de Fiore. The biggest dome ever built since antiquity-a practical REBIRTH of human creativity and invention!  Even the Arno River itself screams newly defined elegance with its serpentine swoops and sways through the city-an image that has surely captured the hearts and imaginations of Florentines through the ages. The whole city mirrors its people and the people their city. 

Florence stole my heart. The city itself is a present likeness of a time long gone. Time traveling is a possibility in this city what with its cobbled streets and 5th floor walkups that predate any sort of star spangled whatever by a couple hundred years. It is OLD. But what’s most striking about this city is that although its creators have come and gone, their ideas , feelings and emotions are still so very tangible. Maybe that’s the tradeoff. Similarly, Ballet itself has been around the block but the essence of the human experience is something that we can still see, touch, hear, smell, and most of all EATTTTTTT today!

Online & Still En Point – California Ballet Newsletter

October 31, 2014

En Pointe for a 47th Season!

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Fall 2014 – Vol. 22 No. 1

Welcome to the fall edition of Our Pointe, California Ballet Company’s quarterly newsletter. In this issue we take a look at the upcoming season, chat with Regisseur Denise Dabrowski about her Giselle experiences, learn why the Civic Theatre is so magical, and more!

Curl up with your tablet, smartphone, or computer and enjoy saving some trees while you learn about the latest goings-on at California Ballet!

California Ballet’s 47th Season Opens with Romantic Classic


California Ballet Company announces the lineup for its 47th season of classical dance in San Diego. Tickets are available online!


Read more . . .

Preparing a Character – Giselle



We recently caught up with former Prima Ballerina Denise Dabrowski and asked her to share with us her experiences dancing the role of Giselle, why the ballet is still popular, and her thoughts on passing the torch to the next generation of dancers.

Read more . . .

Onstage and at Home at the Civic Written by: Joseph Shumate


California Ballet Company has been the resident ballet company at the San Diego Civic Theatre for over 30 years. The company’s entire main stage season is presented at the civic, and the dancers are proud to call it home. But, what makes it so special?

Read more . . .

California Ballet 2014 Annual Meeting & Volunteer Awards NewImage

The 46th Annual Meeting and Volunteer Awards Ceremony took place on Sunday, September 14, 2014 at the WorldBeat Cultural Center in Balboa Park. Attendees enjoyed a lovely catered lunch and special performances by Senior and Junior Company dancers . . .

Read more . . . 

California Ballet Company Chit-Chat


California Ballet’s roster of dancers has seen some changes for there 47th season with promotions and additions. The company is excited to announce two new principals!

Read more . . .

California Ballet Dancer of the Year – Amanda Daly


The 2014 Dancer of the Year, Amanda Daly, was announced on September 14th at the California Ballet Annual Meeting. While this award is always well deserved and hard earned, this year’s was extra special . . .

Read more . . .


Give the gift of Pointe Shoes


California Ballet’s ballerinas are light on their toes and indescribably graceful, but precision take hundreds of hours of training and rehearsal. Before a ballerina puts on her makeup, slips into her costume, and steps into the spotlight, she will have worked around 300 hours int he studio . . .

Read more . . .


California Ballet Association Donors 2014-2015


Join us in thanking these wonderful individuals, families, and organizations for making great classical dance in San Diego a reality!


Read more . . .

 California Ballet Events Calendar


Upcoming dates for performances and events with California Ballet Company. Please keep your eye on our main website for more information. . .


Read more . . .

Life, Ballet, and Giselle

October 17, 2014

California Ballet Company is just a couple weeks out from opening the season with the full length romantic classic Giselle at the San Diego Civic Theatre. The dancers have been hard at work, and are ready to impress on November 1st and 2nd!

We caught up with California Ballet Regisseur and former Prima Ballerina Denise Dabrowski and took a moment to get to better know this woman who has dedicated her professional life to California Ballet and the art form the company strives to preserve. We also asked her how she feels about Giselle, and why it’s still relevant today.

CBC: How old were you when you knew that ballet was going to be your world?

DabrowskiClara74DD: I think I knew when I wanted it to be my world, but I had no idea that it was going to happen. I was a soldier in The Nutcracker. I was sitting with my mom in the audience of the Civic Theatre, watching dress rehearsal, watching Clara onstage. My mom, although she doesn’t remember doing this, she turned to me and said, “I could picture you doing that some day.”

Oh, that was all I needed: that little bit of encouragement. I thought, “I would love to do that!”

I wanted to be Clara, and then eventually I was Clara. And then every ballet I saw, I dreamt of doing. It was like, “Oh God, please let me do it and then I’ll die a happy girl!” The love was there from, I guess, around age 10 or 11. I had no idea you could make a living at it. I had no idea what that would entail.  I think I was very fortunate to be so supported from my family and from the California Ballet family.


CBC: What’s your favorite role to dance?

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DD: I think I have three. I think I would start with Romeo and Juliet, Juliet of course. And Giselle. And, I loved [Lucy from] Dracula because that just went from one end of the world to the other as a character. But, I always, always loved best the ballets where I was somebody other than myself. Somebody to play. Somebody to make the audience laugh, like in Coppelia, or cry, like in Giselle and Juliet. Those were my favorites.


CBC: Tell us about Denise outside the ballet studio.


DD: The greatest thing in my life is my husband, John Stubbs. [California Ballet Company Music Director and Conductor] We’ve been married 21 years. That’s the best decision I’ve ever made. He’s my life. I love to read, I love to garden, I love to work with my hands. I go and take pilates classes to try to stay in shape. I try to visit my parents as much as I can and help them – they’re getting older. I like to travel, though I don’t have the opportunity too often. But, I’m just a regular person. 


I don’t have any other major things in my life – I spent my whole life focused on the dance world. I’ve never had a job outside of the dance world. I’ve never been a secretary. I’ve never had to be a waitress, thank God. So, I think that my focus is always on that. I’m always exploring, through reading and seeing things, how to be a better teacher, how to be a more inspiring person to the artists I come into contact with, how to best serve the dance world that served me so well.

What is the most rewarding thing about your job?

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DD: That’s a hard one! I think to watch someone blossom. To know that maybe I gave a couple of the right words to somebody, that made it click, what they needed to either develop a role or have the confidence to go for something.


One of the things that I’ll never forget is, on tour with The Nutcracker years ago when I was still performing, we’d go to Colorado Springs and besides being the Sugar Plum Fairy or the Dewdrop, I would help the families there – or the children who were involved with the ballet outside of San Diego. I got a sweet card from them once that thanked me for my patience, and my grace working with the children. But, most of all they said, “For your kindness and humor.” I thought to myself, that’s all. That’s all I want to do. I want to be maybe remembered for that. When someone responds to that part of me, then I feel that I’m satisfied, that I’ve done my job. Maybe as much as lying still as Juliet at the end of the ballet, lying dead onstage and hearing crying in the audience. To be able to move somebody like that? Unbelievable. An unbelievable, satisfying experience. Since I can’t do that onstage anymore, my most satisfying and rewarding moments are watching others move forward, maybe because of the little help I gave them. I’m proud of that.

CBC: Why do you think Giselle has withstood the test of time, being one of only a handful of ballets continuously restaged and produced by most major and regional ballet companies?


DD: Well, I think that it is one of the only ballets that has lasted from the romantic era. The only ballet older than that is La Fille Mal Gardee, but the story of Giselle is timeless. It’s about true love, being taken advantage of, retribution, and then the power of love to overcome all things.


Plus, Giselle gets to go mad, so there’s a mad scene. Everybody gets into that. It’s a really interesting scene to see, and it’s so basic to the romantic era of music, art, and ballet.

CBC: How do you think Giselle is still relevant today?


DD: I think it’s kind of a period piece. But I also think that if it’s done really well, really, truly with integrity by the performers, I think it still speaks to people today. How you feel when you fall in love. How you feel when you’re jilted in love. How you forgive. And how human that makes us.


So, not only to look at the ballet as this is where we’ve come from as an art form, but also what part of Giselle or Albrecht do you see in your own relationships? I think every person that comes and sees the ballet will connect with it in a different way.

Giselle87 Dabrowski copy

Denise as Giselle, 1987

CBC: How does the role of Giselle compare to other roles in regard to technicality and stamina?


DD: Oh, it’s a toughie! It’s hard, but wasn’t as difficult for me as Sleeping Beauty and Swan Lake, which are four acts long. Giselle is just a two act ballet. The technical demands on the body are not as difficult as those ballets. It was made earlier than the Petipa ballets, so the technique of the dancers was not as fancy. There aren’t tricks. It not as physically demanding, but it is at least, if not more, emotionally demanding than any other ballet. 


I would rank maybe Giselle and Romeo and Juliet as the most emotionally challenging, and satisfying, and devastating.



Wilis, Giselle Act II

CBC:What would you tell an audience member? What should they expect when they come to see Giselle?


DD: It probably depends on if they’ve been to the ballet or not, because Giselle’s style is a little more old fashioned than you’ll see in more familiar ballets, like The Nutcracker and even Sleeping Beauty and Swan Lake. But Giselle – if they have any sense of the romantic era where there was such a dichotomy brought out between the earthly and the spiritual – you’ll find that all throughout Giselle.

The audience has to open their mind and see. Watch for the very realistic, very heartfelt acting and character portraying that you’ll see in the dancers. They will tell you the story. You don’t need to read the story ahead of time. With the atmosphere that’s created, hopefully you’ll just get sucked into that story and feel what Giselle feels. Feel what Albrect feels. Pull for them in the second act.

Just open your mind, dig in, watch it and see if it relates to anything you’ve ever experienced. If you’ve ever had your heart broken. If you ever have, and do love someone so much that you’ll love them beyond your death. And relate to the dance onstage. I think they’ll enjoy that very much.


Giselle 47 with text 

California Ballet Company presents Giselle at the San Diego Civic Theatre

November 1 & 2, 2014.

For tickets or more information CLICK HERE! 

Dancing in Mexico – California Ballet Soloist Oscar Burciaga

October 11, 2014


California Ballet Company dancers are several weeks into rehearsals for the first production of the company’s 47th season, Giselle. It wasn’t that long ago that everyone in San Diego was enjoying a sunny summer that can only be found on the California coast.  Summers provide a break between seasons here at California Ballet. We took a moment to catch up with California Ballet Company Soloist, Oscar Burciaga, to find out how he spends his summer down time.

Summertime means different things to professional ballet dancers. For some it is a time for much needed “R&R” and a break and from a grueling schedule of rehearsals, 6 day-a-week company class and cross-training injury prevention. However for other dancers it is a time where the crack of the whip goes unchecked and, for the extreme some, is increased to sadistic like frequency! For those overachievers it is a time to hone their craft and to get ahead in the all too brief career of a dancer.

Soloist Oscar Burciaga, knows all too well what comes with intensive summer dance studies, but this time in a teaching capacity. Since 2008 Mr. Burciaga has been shuffling to Mexico every summer to hammer out a two week ballet class at the Universidad de Colima to students whose main path isn’t exactly the yellow brick road to prima ballerina. 


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“Ballet Folklorico is the traditions and customs of Mexico through dance. I teach ballet down there where ballet isn’t the main focus. There really isn’t a professional ballet company or ballet school down there.” Mr. Burciaga is part of a wide range of dance professionals who journey yearly down to Mexico to lend dance expertise in their specific field to students whose main form of dance expression, Ballet Folklorico, is a demonstration of national and cultural identity. 


Mr. Burciaga muses on his own past with eyes that sparkle wildly, brimming with intensity. It is with this intensity that Mr. Burciaga, at the age of 18, forwent an education at the University of Texas, El Paso in favor of following his passion for Ballet Folklorico. This life-choice brought him to the megalopolis of Mexico City. After a series of dead ends in his new city he found himself placing a call to one of the Ballet Folklorico teachers he had met in his formative training. The teacher asked him to come dance at the University of Colima . It was the there where he started his relationship with the university ultimately completing a BFA in Mexican Folklore and Modern Dance.


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When asked about his teaching methods in the summer workshop he sits forward intently and a smile flashes across his face.

“Ballet isn’t like anything else in the classes. Classes are fast. I can’t take too much time in explanations and demonstrations because I lose the kids’ attention. My approach is disciplinarian. I don’t give the same exercises every day. But I want them to leave with a sense of “I did it!” Mr. Burciaga also has a keen sense of humor which he emphasizes while teaching, “ I love to give them stuff to see their reactions, like quick dégagés in first position. They’re having so much fun! They’re just so into it. I’m so into it, it’s funny. Their evolution is my own evolution and I look forward to going back there every year.” 


Students range far and wide in this summer workshop: over 300 plus disciples of dance, preschool to adolescent, professionals and masters. Faculty members are as just as diverse, some of Mr. Burciaga’s colleagues hailing from such prestigious stateside institutions as Martha Graham and Alvin Ailey. The summer workshop allows students exposure to numerous dance forms such as modern dance, hip hop, musical theatre etc. all culminating in a final complete workshop production that showcases the progress of two weeks of their hard and sometimes very difficult work.


“It is challenging teaching ballet to students whose foundation is not ballet. But it’s what keeps me coming back. What I have in Colima is so different to what I have here at California Ballet. Students in Colima are not used to ballet. From discipline, to what to wear, from class, to how to listen to music and how to capture an exercise on the fly . . . ballet is meticulous.”  Mr. Burciaga frequently comes across 16 and 17 year old girls whose dreams are to become professional ballerinas, despite their lack of formal training and physical development from years of training in adolescence.



Universidad de Colima, Summer 2014

The Colima event has garnered more and more interest, which has led to this past year being an inaugural year for community sponsorships. More and more Ballet Folklorico students from the United States are flocking to Colima as its reputation as a bastion for Mexican traditions through art continues to steadily grow. 

When not in Mexico teaching, or working for California Ballet Company as a Soloist dancer and Production Manager, Mr. Burciaga finds time to spend with his wife and family, and enjoy some relaxation with football or fishing. He ruminates methodically and honestly on the future of his dance dichotomy: 

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“I get calls from Mexico to come teach ballet and I also get calls in the US to teach Ballet Folklorico. I feel like I’m always getting caught in the middle. But it is the fact that I don’t have much time left to be able to dance at a certain level that keeps me going. All I’ve ever wanted to do is dance. To know that you’re not going to be able to do it, as you feel of you once did, is scary. I can still do what I can still do. Time is eventually gonna run out, but you can’t stop. There’s so much to still learn, evolve and grow. I don’t know where it’ll end up. Five years ago I didn’t really think about it. We’ll see where it goes.”

Dancing on the Fringe – 2014 San Diego International Fringe Festival

July 7, 2014


fringe |frinj|

  (often the fringesthe outer, marginal, or extreme part of an area, group, or sphere of activity

       • (the fringethe unconventional, extreme, or marginal wing of a group or sphere of activity

  adjective [ attrib. ]        not part of the mainstream; unconventional, peripheral, or extreme: fringe theater.DSC 2075

We began this post with the dictionary definition of the word, “fringe,” because when trying to define the San Diego International Fringe Festival, we ran up against a brick wall. We want you to understand just what it is that California Ballet is participating in, but this amazing arts festival defies description! Oh, we could tell you about how it’s the largest arts festival in San Diego, or that it draws artists from all over the world, but that doesn’t really tell you what you’ll experience when you attend.

But the words “extreme,” “marginal,” and “unconventional,” begin to hint at the tapestry that makes up this amazing arts experience. At the SD Fringe Festival, you’ll have a chance to experience performance art, new dramatic works, independent musicians, cabarets, comedians, drag queens, burlesque, ethnic art forms, slam poets . . . the list goes on and on.

To learn more about what’s performing, go to for more info.

California Ballet Company is participating this year with Ballet 360 – Skyline View performed in the Shiley Events Suite on the 9th floor of the San Diego Central Library. The venue is gorgeous with panoramic views of the city at sundown! Dancers from across San Diego have come out to join us in a low-tech, high octane dance performance that will send you reeling and begging for more.

Oh yeah, and the performance is free to the public! All you have to do is show up a little early to be sure you get a seat, all performances begin at 8:00pm. Here’s the information:

Email image for Fringe

The performance is free, and we love that we can dance for you, but our dancers and choreographers have to eat, too! We are asking for donations either online or at the performance. Recommended donation is $10 per person, and you can make one by clicking the link below and indicating that your donation is for the Fringe Festival.


Now, you may be thinking, “What the heck is a ballet company doing at this festival?” And, you may be right . . . if you’re thinking of Swan Lake or The Nutcracker. But California Ballet Company, and the San Diego dance scene, has so much more to offer than that! Just in case you doubt us, take a look at the video below for a sample of what you might see at Ballet 360 – Skyline View!


Ballet 360 – Skyline View is sponsored by: 

Coleman Transparent


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