Looking back at 2010! ! !

NewYear

2010 is over and what can we say except, “Happy New Year!”

 

 

It’s been a wonderful year for California Ballet, and we can’t thank you enough for following us through 2010 by reading our blog. We’ve had fun entertaining you, educating you, and engaging you! Since you’ve been following us over the last year, we thought we’d take a moment and look back at what 2010 had to offer California Ballet Company.

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The early months of the year are usually pretty calm for the ballet company, but come March things start to heat up. The end of March was filled with activity. Onstage we presented our annual Choreographer’s Concert at Pacific Beach Middle School. The turnout was fantastic with talented choreographers debuting new works that ran the gamut from Hip Hop to Classical Ballet. The dancers shined onstage and the audience loved every moment.

 

Just a week following the Choreographer’s Concert California Ballet Company launched its very first online fundraising campaign. We created a Facebook Cause, a Twitter account, a YouTube account and, perhaps most importantly, this very blog which you are reading! The fundraising campaign netted around $33,000. Not bad, right? But the most enduring acquisition for the Company from that fundraiser was a brand new, extensive social media network and all of the new friends that we have been able to make around the world over the last year!

We began writing articles about the state of the arts in politics, behind the scenes at the ballet, ballet history, and more. Your response was amazing, and we eventually were included on not one, but two Top 50 Ballet Blog lists! Thanks go out to our followers.

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In May California Ballet Company took part in a special tribute to Chopin, celebrating the composer’s 200th birthday. Director Maxine Mahon premiered a new work for the occasion, titled Concerto #1. The piece, and the performance as a whole, was lauded by the critics as letting:

“. . . California Ballet focus on pure dance, which it did with considerable artistry.”

Janice Steinberg, The San Diego Union Tribune

The summer is downtime for the company, allowing the dancers to teach at various workshops and continue to shape their art before the next season. We ended our 42nd season at the end of June. When the company returned in September to start our 43rd season, the dancers were ready and rearing to go!

After a month and a half of rehearsals, California Ballet presented our first production of the year, Ballet Bites – a Taste of Transylvania. The production, set in California Ballet’s intimate Theatre West, was an all-inclusive experience. The Saturday evening performance started with a Halloween-themed dinner and a photo opportunity with the Brides of Dracula. Catered by Bellagio Ristorante, the fare was sumptuous! After their meal, patrons adjourned to Theatre West where they were presented with a two-act program.

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Act One consisted of Marius Zirra’s colorful Romanian Rhapsodies and Mark Lanham’s spirited Tarantella. Both numbers filled the intimate space with a tangible energy which the audience soaked up! Act Two consisted of a one-act rendition of Charles Bennett’s Dracula. The lighting, designed by Pamela Keel, turned the studio theatre into an eerie spectacle of dynamic dancing. The California Ballet Company dancers filled the various roles of the drama-heavy ballet with a precision of technique and emotion that immersed the intimate audience in a way that would have been impossible in a larger venue.

“Cassandra Lund has both the dancing and dramatic plum-role of Lucy Van Helsing (Dracula’s choice bite) . . . and she is superb! Dancing with full abandon, she makes a most believable Lucy.”

Rob Appel, Bravissimo

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Of course, we finished the year with our perennial favorite, The Nutcracker. This year’s cast was astounding, from the tiniest tot to the company’s Principal Dancers! The acting was engaging, the variations dynamic, the corps de ballet spot-on. Numerous audience members were overheard commenting that this was possibly the best Nutcracker that they had seen in several years.

On Saturday, December 18, 2010 at our 8:00pm performance California Ballet presented a “Salute to the MMarinesWebilitary”. The Nutcracker was performed to a completely sold out audience with every single seat in the San Diego Civic Theatre filled! The special evening was kicked off with a welcoming address from Director Maxine Mahon, who introduced representatives from the Marines’ Toys for Tots program. The two Marines were greeted with a moving welcome as all 3,000-plus audience members presented them with a standing ovation!

 

Next, Lieutenant Colonel Brian Josten of the U.S. Marines was welcomed to the sMissCAWebtage for opening comments. He was followed by the Mission Bay High School J.R.O.T.C. color guard who accompanied the current Miss California, Arianna Afsar. Miss Afsar beautifully sang the National Anthem to an appropriately standing audience while the waiting dancers backstage doffed their costumes’ top-hats.

To make the evening even more special, Retired First Sergeant Mark Keller (who also coaches the Mission Bay H.S. J.R.O.T.C.) performed that evening as a father in the Act I Family Scene, and the two lifters in the Act II Arabian Variation were played by two strapping Marines.

The entire event was rounded out by the fact that California Ballet Company donated 1,500 tickets to members of the military and their families through Wounded Warriors and Operation Homefront!

“Carlo Di Dio as the lead Russian . . . was on fire. He and the men burst onto the stage with daring split jumps and acrobatics, some of the best I’ve seen in many years. Even their shouting was spot on.”

Kris Eitland, San Diego Arts

What a year, huh? A new social media network, a successful blog, four phenomenal performances, great reviews, the list goes on and on! We are so glad that you were able to join us on the journey, and now we have a brand new year to look forward to: 2011!

With yet another production around the bend, A Touch of the Classics, keep an eye on our blog for updates. We’ll be dancing excerpts from three major ballets, and you can bet this blog will be chock-full of interesting tidbits and history about those ballets!

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So have a safe and happy New Year, and we’ll see you at the ballet in 2011!

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