California Ballet’s 44th Season in Review

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Another season has come and gone for California Ballet Company, and what a season it was! We had a ton of fun producing, rehearsing, and sharing our ballets with you and we hope you had fun, too! A milestone season is just around the corner for us (45 years!) but before we look to the future, we want to take a moment and look back at California Ballet Company’s 44th season.

Our year began in August of 2011 with a fantastic Annual Membership Meeting at Andiamo! Ristorante in Tierrasanta, CA. Our California Ballet friends and family gathered for fine food, fine company, and a fine time as we closed out our 43rd season and ushered in the 44th. Our annual silent auction accompanied the event, bringing in a respectable amount of monetary support for the company, and providing those present a chance to enjoy in some of San Diego’s finest amenities. Special awards were handed out to volunteers and community partners who demonstrated unwavering commitment to fine classical dance in San Diego. Overall, the event was a relaxed affair with fine Italian food and even finer company.

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In September of 2011 the company returned to the studio, after a summer of teaching and making guest appearances abroad, to begin rehearsals for the Fall production. The October performances, presented at the Poway Center for the Performing Arts, featured Charles Bennett’s Alice in Wonderland and Wayne Davis’ Souvenir. The colorful cast of characters in Alice in Wonderland were headed up by CBC Soloist Rebecca Correia in the title role. Her interpretation of the dreamy pre-teen was playfully and artfully danced. Her spry movements and animated facial expressions propelled the whimsical story forward as the audience was treated to an array of larger than life caricatures.

Wayne Davis’ Souvenir was a delectable contrast to the character driven Alice. The choreography, set to Tchaikovsky’s Souvenir de Florence, was fluid, graceful, and entrancing. Danced by the corps de ballet and spearheaded by company soloists and principals, the short, classically inspired piece was a graceful divertissement that started the evening on a sophisticated note.

 

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Just a shy two months later, California Ballet opened in December at our home venue, the San Diego Civic Theatre, with our annual production of The Nutcracker. A long time favorite of many San Diego locals, this magical ballet continued to deliver on its promise of child-friendly entertainment and top-notch professional dancing. The cast of children stepped up to the line and matched the professionals for stage presence. The professional dancers continued California Ballet’s tradition of technical prowess, while amping up their performances this year with a level of acting ability that has rarely been seen on the ballet stage. Not just static smiles and raised eyebrows, the California Ballet dancers forwarded The Nutcacker’s story with such ease that one almost felt as though they were actually in the Kingdom of the Sweets!

The production lasted a phenomenal two weeks at the Civic, with record breaking attendance! Full houses and standing ovations greeted a grateful company of dancers for each show. Following the Saturday evening performance, a special Snow Queen reception was held in the theater’s Grand Salon. Catered food and beverages, a string quartet with members of the San Diego Symphony, and the ballet company’s retinue of soloists and principals all made the event one to remember. It was an elegant and understated affair that was met with critical success, and will likely be repeated at the 2012 production of The Nutcracker.

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May of 2012 saw the return of the annual Choreographer’s Concert, this year titled Beyond the Barre and performed at the state of the art Coronado High Performing Arts Center. The production boasted one heck of a diverse program with everything from ballet to jazz, contemporary to burlesque! The program starred dancers not only from California Ballet, but also from Axiom Dance Collective, Coronado School for the Arts, and the PGK Project. The dance community came together to present en evening of innovative and interesting dance. If you missed it this year, be sure to mark it on your calendars for next!

On the feet of the Choreographer’s Concert, the dancers returned to the studio to begin work on the next big production of the season, Toni Pimble’s Cinderella! Everyone is familiar with the story of the little cinder girl, her ugly stepfamily, her prince, and her shoes, but chances are you probably hadn’t seen the ballet version before California Ballet’s production in May. Presented at the San Diego Civic Theatre for two nights only, Cinderella played not just to full houses, but to jam-packed audiences! Not a seat was empty, and the dancers could feel the electricity in the air! The title role was danced by CBC Ballerina Chie Kudo. Her airy grace and waif like beauty played to the role of the cinder girl perfectly! Miss Kudo’s Prince Charming was danced by Guest Artist Vadim Solomakha. His dynamic jumps and seemingly endless turns filled the stage with a bombastic energy that kept viewers on the edge of their seats. Bernadette Torres’ ephemeral Fairy Godmother was an image of  sylphlike beauty. She glided effortlessly across the floor en pointe, bringing a breath of serenity to a performance that was otherwise filled with delightfully frenetic energy.

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And the source of that energy and mayhem? Why, the stepfamily of course! The show may be called Cinderella, but there is no denying that the stepfamily stole the show. Miki Batchman, in the role of the Stepmother, commanded the stage with a sinister beauty that had you cringing even while you laughed at her antics. While she danced relatively little, her presence was nonetheless hard to miss each and every time she was onstage. But the antics only began with the stepmother. Stepping into the high heels of the stepsisters were CBC Soloist Oscar Burciaga and corps de ballet dancer Joseph Shumate. These two men donned wigs and dresses and not only filled the stage, but dominated it! While it may seem weird that the ballet company would choose to have men cross dress for these roles, trust us, it was the right choice. These two guys had the audience in stitches and tears of laughter! Not a single moment went by without something happening to redouble the laughter. Many audience members were overheard, after the show, lauding the performances of the stepfamily, and still laughing over the slapstick and prat falls that permeated their schtick.

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Cinderella ended up being a critical and financial success for the ballet company, kickstarting the next season with early ticket sales for next year’s productions. If you attended Cinderella, then you are in the know about what we have to offer next year. If not, well then you’ll just have to wait. We don’t mean to tease you, but . . . well, perhaps we do. Not to worry, we will be announcing next season soon enough! In the meantime, suffice it to say that our 45th Sapphire anniversary will be full of great dramatic performances, and all at the beautiful San Diego Civic Theatre!

Thanks to all for a remarkable, unforgettable, and record breaking 44th season. We’ll see you all next season at the ballet!

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