Nutcracker Season - Classic & Jazz versions
Nutcracker Season is approaching fast and Central West Ballet is already rehearsing its cast of over 100 children in addition to the company members. Ballet Mistress Leslie Ann Larson says the performances will showcase a cross section of Central Valley youth, "we have seen much more diversity in our children’s auditions over the last three years", Larson explains, "it's wonderful to see so many new faces from all around, and good little performers too"
Artistic Director René Daveluy says there is a new crop of lead dancers, along with the veterans to give audiences something special and exciting for each show. "I am excited to see such great dancing, technically and artistically from our new headliners". Daveluy also loves to see the maturity of his veterans at the forefront, "Our veterans, in their mid twenties and approaching early thirties are showing an essential maturity that is a joy to watch".
The Nutcracker got an all new companion version last year with the premiere of Nutcracker in Jazz, which returns this year to complement the beloved run of the classic version of the ballet. René Daveluy says this special Jazz version is a must see for those who want something extra this Holiday season. "There are so many Christmas jazz standards and Tchaikovsky's score has had many adaptations ever since the jazz era came about", Daveluy's goes on to say that the project had been on his mind for a few years, "a lot of ballet companies present a 'Nutty Nutcracker' during their regular Holiday season, but I wanted to make our version more like those great MGM musicals of the 40's and 50's." READ THE FULL ARTICLE
Sarah Weaver as the Sugar Plum Fairy and Nicole Firpo as the Sugar Rum Cherry. Milano Photography/CWB Archives.
Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Third year run.
Central West Ballet's venture into Halloween tradition made its third seasonal run this year, hoping to continue gaining consistent following at the box office.
Artistic Director René Daveluy says the project has gathered enough interest since its premiere in 2015 to warrant return performances at Halloween time. "We are excited about the prospects of tapping into seasonal events and reaching a wider audience with themes such as Halloween and well known subjects like The Legend of Sleepy Hollow", Daveluy goes on to explain, "this ballet has a wealth of beneficial elements that is doing good for our Company, our Academy and CWB II, our Trainee company".
Indeed, Central West Ballet has nurtured the growth of its Academy and its trainees over the course of the last five years. "We have seen tremendous improvements in our students with their technique and stage experience since the creation of Legend of Sleepy Hollow", explains Academy Director Leslie Ann Larson, "the ballet contains an extensive school scene and also includes students and CWB II members in the Barn Dance, the main divertissement in the first act". READ THE FULL ARTICLE
Below: Aaron Gulevich and CWB II artists in the Barn Scene from Legend of Sleepy Hollow.
30 Years and Counting
Central West Ballet's 30th Anniversary Gala is scheduled for February 8 and this special evening of dance will be a chance for everyone to enjoy a wonderful look at the evolution of the Company since its inception in 1987.
Directors René Daveluy and Leslie Ann Larson also look forward to celebrating the work done under their tenure since 2004.
"Leslie and I were at the beginning of our forties when we took on leadership of the Company 13 years ago and this adventure was in many ways the most wonderful of our dance careers". Daveluy and Larson say they have witnessed many superb moments during the development of Central West Ballet as it became a resident company of the Gallo Center for the Arts. "We started in the high school system", Daveluy goes on to say, "back then, it really was a community effort to get everything done with the dedication of parents, volunteers and the beautiful creativity of many seamstresses, carpenters and entire families to get the shows produced". READ THE FULL ARTICLE
Cinderella returns in March
Central West Ballet's production of Cinderella will be back in March, both at the Grand in Tracy and at the Gallo Center for the Arts.
"This will be our third roll over of Cinderella", Artistic Director René Daveluy explains, "we premiered a new version in 2008 and then repeated it in 2011". Daveluy says this go around will be an effort similar to the endeavors that were made for Legend of Sleepy Hollow. "We made use of existing warehouse elements for Sleepy Hollow and this time we're going to dig deeper to re-create set pieces for the production".
Since 2008, Central West Ballet made use of professional rentals for its productions. In 2010, the Company moved into its own studios, kickstarted financial assistance for its company members and created its own Academy to sustain a regular inflow of local talents. "Legend of Sleepy Hollow stemmed in part from this situation", Daveluy continues, "we have had to prioritize our goals".
"It's an adventure, not without its challenges, but worth every effort" Daveluy says, " I am looking forward to use some inventiveness with this ballet, one of my favorites in the repertoire". ARTICLE COMING SOON.
Nicole Firpo, Phillip Riskin and Wally Layne in Cinderella. Schultz Photography.