Saturday, May 9th, at The Broad Stage at the Santa Monica College Performing Arts Center

Westside Ballet in "Who Cares? " 2009, with Ariana Lott and Maco Doussias. Photo by Todd Lechtick.

Westside Ballet in “Who Cares?” 2009, with Ariana Lott and Maco Doussias. Todd Lechtick photo.

Westside Ballet of Santa Monica presented “Spring Fling!” featuring excerpts from Balanchine’s high-spirited ballet “Who Cares?” with music by Gershwin, and Westside’s premiere of David Lichine’s comedic one-act ballet “Graduation Ball” with music by Strauss. Also featured are two iconic pas de deux, a newly choreographed work, and excerpts from the musical Hairspray! 

This was fun for the whole family!

Graduation Ball
Graduation Ball

Matthew Van Oss and Giorgia Martelloni Zabriskie in Lichine’s Graduation Ball. Todd Lechtick photo.

“Graduation Ball” is choreographed by David Lichine to music composed by Johann Strauss II and arranged by Antal Doráti. With a scenario devised by Lichine and with scenery and costumes designed by Alexandre Benois, it was first presented by the Original Ballet Russe at the Theatre Royal, Sydney, Australia, on 1 March 1940. We are pleased to commemorate its 75th anniversary.

The ballet in one act is set in a fashionable Viennese finishing school for girls during the 1840s. The headmistress has invited the cadets of the city’s military academy to attend a ball celebrating the graduation of the senior class. The senior and junior girls have planned a series of divertissements as the evening’s entertainment and are greatly excited by the event. Flirtations, exuberant dances, and a secret romance ensue.

Who Cares?*

In 1937, George Gershwin asked Balanchine to come to Hollywood to work with him on Samuel Goldwyn’s “Follies.” Tragically, Gershwin was felled by a brain tumor before he completed the ballet music for the film.

Thirty-three years later, Balanchine choreographed “Who Cares?” to 16 songs Gershwin composed between 1924 and 1931, including “Strike Up the Band,” “Sweet and Low Down,” “Somebody Loves Me,” “Bidin’ My Time,” “‘S Wonderful,” “That Certain Feeling,” “Do Do Do,” “Lady Be Good,” “The Man I Love,” “Build a Stairway to Paradise,” “Embraceable You,” “Fascinatin’ Rhythm,” “Who Cares?,” “My One and Only,” “Liza,”  and “I Got Rhythm.”

Balanchine used the songs not to evoke any particular era but as a way to portray an exuberance that is both broadly American and charged with the distinctive energy of Manhattan.

The “Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux” is a ballet made by New York City Ballet co-founder and founding choreographer George Balanchine to an excerpt from “Swan Lake” by Tchaikovsky. Described by the New York City Ballet as “an eight-minute display of ballet bravura and technique,” the piece uses music rediscovered in the archives of the Bolshoi Theatre.

* “Who Cares and “Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux” were presented with permission from The George Balanchine Trust.

“Flames of Paris” pas de deux, from the ballet “Flames of Paris,” is a classical ballet based on songs of the French Revolution. It was originally choreographed by Vasily Vainonen and premiered at Leningrad’s Kirov Theatre in 1932.

Westside Ballet’s youngest dancers also took the stage in Caprice Walker’s charming ballet, “Capriccioso” with music by Fauré and costumes inspired by Degas’ dancers.

Westside Ballet’s Spring Performance

Each year, Westside Ballet of Santa Monica provides invaluable performing experiences for our students in a wide variety of ballets, allowing an exciting glimpse into the rewards of disciplined training. Such exposure was critical to Yvonne Mounsey’s own early ballet training, and as Founder of Westside Ballet, she gave generations of young dancers the same opportunities which continue today in her honor.

Video of Lyrica in dress rehearsal this week, by Drew Roublick
Another preview, by Drew Roublick

Lyrica Blankfein is Guest Artist

We were proud to announce the addition of visiting guest artist Lyrica Blankfein to our 2015 Spring Performance.

Lyrica Blankfein in Susan Stroman's Little Dancer

Lyrica Blankfein in Susan Stroman’s Little Dancer

Lyrica and resident guest artist Evan Swenson opened the program performing Spring Waters – a fiery pas-de-deux set to music by Sergei Rachmaninoff with choreography by Asaf Messerer. Lyrica also danced the solo in My One and Only, one of several excerpts performed from George Balanchine’s Who Cares*.

Video of Lyrica in dress rehearsal this week, by Drew Roublick. View here.

Program Notes:

Spring Performance: Ballet Excerpts
Spring Performance: Children’s Ballets
Spring Performance: Original Ballets
Spring Performance: Short Ballets
Spring Performance: Story Ballets

Past Spring Performances:
Spring Performances 2010 – 2012
Spring Performances 2005 – 2009
Spring Performances 2000 – 2004
Spring Performances 1994 – 1999


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