Modesto’s cultural history changed in 1987, when Mrs. Juline Schmitz, Founder of Juline • School of Dance and Mrs. Gretchen Vogelzang took on the pioneering job of establishing a ballet company for Modesto and the greater Central Valley. Already an instant hit in the community, Juline • School of Dance was in its twelfth year of existence at the inception of Bravo! Repertory Dance Theatre, geared toward giving local dance talent opportunities for advanced training and performance experience. In a short time, this exciting dance troupe quickly established itself as a distinctive youth ballet company. From its full scale Nutcracker to other full-length ballets such as The Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella and Coppélia, the company became an integral part of other community performing arts groups in Modesto. Its founding Artistic Director, Mrs. Gretchen Vogelzang, became a driving force behind many new works created or staged on the company. On this road to excellence, the Company acquired an Honor Status within the Regional Dance America Association (RDA), paving the way for Modesto to have its own recognized dance institution. On its Tenth Anniversary, the name of the company was changed to Central West Ballet to reflect the growing reach of the company in the Central Valley. In the early 2000s, following the passing of Mrs. Juline Schmitz, Mrs. Debbie Bertucci became the Director of Juline • School of Dance. In 2001, after fifteen years of fulfilling creativity and strong leadership, Gretchen Vogelzang moved to Virginia to become President of the RDA. From 2001 to 2004, Central West Ballet’s artistic directorships included tenures by Karen Burns and Coleen Patterson.


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