Los Angeles Ballet

By Haskins, Ann | Pointe, August/September 2007 | Go to article overview

Los Angeles Ballet


Haskins, Ann, Pointe


A new ballet company seeks to fill a void in Los Angeles.

With studios that overlook Malibu, a business oflice in Santa Monica, sets and costumes in downtown Los Angeles and performances of the inaugural season presented at three different theaters. Los Angeles Ballet has the city covered.

Co-artistic Directors Thordal Chnstensen and Colleen Neary, a husbandand-wife team, see their fledgling ballet company's unconventional nature as a logical response to the geography of their city and are committed to nurturing a resident world-class ballet company.

"We want to build an audience for Los Angeles Ballet by essentially touring this far-flung metropolis," says Chnstensen, former artistic director of the Royal Danish Ballet. "Rather than start by asking an audience to fight the traffic to go downtown, we are bringing ballet to these wonderful theaters and building an audience at each venue." Neary adds, "We want this company to belong to all of Los Angeles."

The company debuted in December 2006 with a new production of The Nutcracker choreographed by the directors, followed in spring 2007 by two programs devoted to masterworks of Balanchine and Bournonville.

The 2007-08 season will officially open with The Nutcracker at multiple theaters, including the prestigious Los Angeles Music Center. Details are being finalized for spring 2008. with talks underway with both local and international choreographers and possible collaborations with L.A.-based visual artists, musicians and composers.

Before any dancers were hired, Chnstensen. Neary and Executive Director Julie Whirtaker devoted two years to laying groundwork. The first step involved designating Westside School of Ballet as the company's official school and its director, Yvonne Mounsey. a founding member of New York City Ballet, as artistic adviser to LAB.

When the time came to secure dancers, Christensen and Neary. also former members of NYCB, hired from prestigious companies and schools around the world

Though LAB's repertoire emphasizes Balanchine, many members of the company have little or no specific Balanchine training. …

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