Locally Grown South Bay Ballet Closes Successful Season with Cinderella

Top Quote South Bay Ballet will close its 2011 - 2012 season with Cinderella at the James R. Armstrong Theatre in Torrance the weekend of June 2 and 3. End Quote
  • Los Angeles-Long Beach, CA (1888PressRelease) May 12, 2012 - Arts enthusiasts can be hard to find in Southern California. Harder still is finding an audience base for ballet. Certainly there are those who snatch-up tickets, and the glamour that comes with, when a world-renowned ballet company makes its way through town. Supporting and nurturing a locally-grown ballet troupe however is a completely different story evidenced by the numerous professional ballet companies that have come and gone in Los Angeles alone through the years.

    Growing a company takes patience. Locally, on a professional level that has proven to be difficult as the support of donors and audiences wavers. On a pre-professional level though, many have found success.

    South Bay Ballet is one prominent pre-professional company that boasts a 34-year history along with helping to launch the careers of professional ballerinas the likes of Misty Copeland, a soloist at American Ballet Theatre, and Ashley Ellis, a soloist at Boston Ballet, among countless others. Led by founder and artistic director Diane Lauridsen, this hardy troupe has managed to grow an even broader patron base in recent years by appealing to generations of Southlanders with a repertoire that is as engaging for novice dance enthusiasts as well as seasoned veterans.

    Following suit with many professional companies, South Bay Ballet's annual season begins with the staging of the The Nutcracker in December, followed with a classical and contemporary dance concert in the spring featuring the works of celebrated choreographers as well as emerging choreography spawned under Lauridsen's watchful eye. Most notably a favorite among Southland audiences though is the company's Storybook Ballet series which features somewhat condensed versions of the full-length ballets with adapted choreography and staging by Lauridsen and her creative team. Featured in South Bay Ballet's Storybook anthology are four classical ballets: A Midsummer Night's Dream, Sleeping Beauty, Coppélia, and Cinderella.

    Up for the 2012 Storybook rotation is South Bay Ballet's kid-friendly version of Cinderella. Set to Sergei Prokofiev's well-known score, the ballet is just an hour and a half in length including intermission and runs for one weekend only, June 2 and 3 at the James R. Armstrong Theatre in Torrance. The company's first performance of Cinderella was in 1992 and since has been revamped with additional scenes choreographed by Lauridsen, vibrant sets and backdrops by artist Jenny Tomich, and enchanting costumes designed by Janice Munson.

    South Bay Ballet's rendition is faithful to the beloved 1697 tale written by Charles Perrault, in which the heroine's father fails to protect his daughter from the wickedness of a stepmother, performed by Delany Zieg, and two stepsisters. After the intervention of her Fairy Godmother, danced by Norika Matsuyama, the downtrodden Cinderella, danced by Daisy Jacobson, is transformed from a ragged servant-girl into a radiantly beautiful princess who is carried off in her carriage to find love in the arms of a Prince, performed this year by John-Paul Simoens.

    Perhaps the most famous piece from Prokofiev's score is the lovely, melodic waltz of the Act II ball scene, to which the Prince and Cinderella, who have fallen in love at first sight, dance a blissful pas de deux. In the concluding number of the act, Cinderella realizes she must leave before the stroke of midnight and rushes out leaving behind a sparkling slipper. True to the tale, the Prince vows that he will not rest until he has found the owner of the slipper.

    Rivaling the romantic storyline however is the humorous, over-the-top pantomime from the Ugly Stepsisters, Prunella and Druzilla, perfected this year by Karrie McGillivray and Tess Goodrich respectively. While dozens of corps de ballet members fill the stage in stand-out roles including Kathryn Gonzalez-Valle as the Fairy of the Tiara, Yumi Kanazawa as the Fairy of the Slippers, and Mayu Odaka as Fairy of the Gown.

    For Lauridsen, whose love of history enables her to grasp the harsh reality of life in medieval times finds the most magical aspects of Cinderella transforming. "When I went to mad Ludwig of Bavaria's castle, I saw real carriages. They were gigantic and Rococo which really brought this story to life for me. I also try to look at the production through the eyes of a child so in our ballet, there is plenty of fun for the children in the audience while the adult mind is engaged by Cinderella's touching despair, hope and triumph in the longed-for promise of a happily ever after."

    South Bay Ballet will give four performances of Cinderella at the James R. Armstrong Theatre at 3330 Civic Center Drive in Torrance the weekend of June 2 and 3. Tickets may be purchased by calling 310.781.7171 or by visiting www.southbayballet.org.

    Saturday, June 2 - 2 pm & 6 pm
    Sunday, June 3 - 2 pm & 5 pm

    James R. Armstrong Theatre
    Torrance Cultural Arts Center
    3330 Civic Center Drive • Torrance, California 90503

    All seats $22

    South Bay Ballet, a non-profit organization, provides quality artistic performances to the community as well as outstanding training to young and pre-professional dancers. Under the guidance of Artistic Director Diane Lauridsen, and Assistant Artistic Director Elijah Pressman, the Company's mission is to provide a nurturing environment for serious dance students to develop their skills while offering artistic excellence to the community. The Company is dedicated to providing performance opportunities that build character and confidence. The ultimate goal is to carry young dancers into their professional lives. www.southbayballet.org

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