June 13, 2024 #1 Local News, Information and Event Source for the Century City/Westwood areas.

Local Ballet Dancers perform in Westside Ballet of Santa Monica’s 50th Anniversary Spring Performance and Gala

By  Sophie Topper

Nine dedicated ballet students have been preparing to take the stage in Westside Ballet’s 50th Anniversary Spring Performance. The performances will showcase the dancers’ training across multiple styles and dynamics, and culminate with the Gala featuring world renowned guest artists. Multiple of the artists performing in the Gala are alumni of Westside themselves.

Spencer Collins is a fifth grader attending Overland Elementary who recently just won 1st place in Youth America Grand Prix, one of the largest and most prestigious ballet competitions. He danced in the New York Finals in April receiving 1st place in both Classical and Contemporary in his age category. Spencer will be performing his award winning solo from Flames of Paris in the Spring Performances as well as the Gala. Spencer will also have a featured role in the Jazz piece that will span through many decades of dance.

Spencer Collins will perform the variation “Flames of Paris” at the Broad Stage on May 17-18 at Westside Ballet’s Spring Showcase.  Photo by Sarah Madison Photography

Ballet has had a major impact on Spencer in and out of the studio. He says “Ballet also makes me feel confident in the studio and on stage. And that confidence flows into other parts of my life, like school too. I know when I try to learn something new that’s hard, if I work at it, I can do anything I set my mind to.” 

One of Spencer’s coaches and Westside Ballet Associate Executive Director,  Adrian Blake Mitchell, will also be performing in the Gala. Adrian who danced with the Mikhailovsky Theatre in St Petersburg, Russia will perform the Pas de Deux from George Balanchine’s masterpiece Agon. Adrian’s partner Andrea Lassakova also danced with the Mikhailovsky Theatre.

Eighth grade student Naya Farrell-Katseanes is a Century City resident, and will be dancing the Lilac Fairy Attendants from The Sleeping Beauty as well as in the Jazz piece.  Naya has aspirations to be a professional dancer and has received scholarships to study at summer training programs. Naya says that “Ballet makes me happy because I enjoy dancing with my friends. I also love performing in front of an audience … it’s very fun.”

Level 5+ dancer Naya Farrell-Katseanes will be performing as a ‘Fairy Attendant” in the classic “The Sleeping Beauty”.   Photo by Anne Slattery  Photography

The Westside dancers will perform  a variety of styles and pieces. Tenth grade student Bella Shriver will perform the Fairy of Beauty solo from The Sleeping Beauty along with Classical Symphony choreographed by Westside Ballet founder Yvonne Mounsey. Koko Miyamoto, a tenth grader at Geffen Academy will also dance in Classical Symphony as well as Balanchine’s Concerto Barocco, Jazz, and Murmuration, a contemporary piece made in collaboration with Santa Monica College’s Dance Department.

Bella Shriver rehearses as “Fairy Beauty”  in the classic “The Sleeping Beauty”.   Photo by Sarah Madison Photography

Two more eighth graders, Antonia Cytrynowicz and Zola Maksimovic, will dance the Lilac Fairy Attendants from The Sleeping Beauty along with the jazz piece. And Delilah Ahmadi  at St. Paul the Apostle dances Ecossaises and jazz. 6th grade New West student Isla Segar dances Fête De Carnivale and jazz. Carlin McCaffrey  who is in 4th grade will dance Valse Bleu. 

Advanced dancer Koko Miyamoto in a scene from George Balanchine’s “Concerto Barocco, 2nd Movement” staged by Patricia Neary. Photo by Sarah Madison Photography

The two programs will highlight all the dedicated work of these local students, as well as showcase current stars of ballet. The Gala will honor legendary American ballerina Patricia Neary who danced in New York City Ballet under George Balanchine. Patricia has personally coached all the Balanchine works in the show which has been a very special experience for the students and professionals.

The Westside Ballet student company of 91 rehearse the “GRAND DÉFILÉ: A Presentation of the Full Company,” staged by Artistic Director Martine Harley to music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. Photo by Sarah Madison Photography

This exciting program runs May 17-18 at The Eli and Edythe Broad Stage in Santa Monica.

For More Info & Tickets: westsideballet.com/spring-performance

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