Ballet NEWS | Los Angeles Ballet springs into celebration

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Los Angeles BALLET SPRINGS into “celebration”

Raymonda variations and Western Symphony by Balanchine and a world premiere by Sonya Tayeh of “So You think you can dance”

Los Angeles Ballet [LAB] Artistic Directors Thordal Christensen and Colleen Neary are pleased to present Celebration, which comes to Los Angeles in March, featuring Balanchine’s luscious Raymonda Variations and riotous Western Symphony, plus another World Premiere created specifically for LAB dancers by the returning Sonya Tayeh. Mr. Christensen and Ms. Neary chose the title Celebration in honor of LAB’s 5th Season presenting dance in Southern California.

Raymonda Variations was inspired by George Balanchine’s admiration of Glazounov’s music. He loved what he called its “grand and generous manner, its joy and playfulness.” Western Symphony, also by Balanchine, is set on a rugged Old West street populated by cowboys and dance hall girls! Steps Balanchine uses from traditional ballet vocabulary allude to the steps, formations, and gestures of American folk dancing. The lively, familiar score consists of classic American folk songs orchestrated and arranged by Hershy Kay.

LAB proudly presents its next commissioned World Premiere (Title TBD), created by one of the country’s most beloved choreographers, Sonya Tayeh, who makes her return to Los Angeles Ballet after the tremendous success of her first LAB commissioned work in last May’s New Wave LA performances. LAB’s artistic directors Thordal Christensen and Colleen Neary had the vision to ask Tayeh to adapt her exceptional skills as a successful pop/commercial choreographer to the world of ballet and ‘pointe work’, to thrilling results. 

The much-anticipated March performances will take place at venues across Los Angeles from March 5 to March 20 (please see full performance schedule below).

For more information, please visit the Los Angeles Ballet website or call 310.998.7782.


Alex Theatre, Glendale

216 North Brand Boulevard

Glendale, CA 91203

Saturday, March 5, 2011 @ 7:30 pm

Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center

1935 Manhattan Beach Boulevard

Redondo Beach, CA 90278

Saturday, March 12, 2011 @ 7:30 pm

Freud Playhouse

MacGowan Hall-UCLA Campus

Los Angeles, CA 90024

Saturday, March 19, 2011 @ 7:30 pm

Saturday, March 20, 2011@ 2:00 pm

**Performances subject to change

**The performances of Raymonda Variations and Western Symphony, all Balanchine® Ballets, are presented by arrangement with The Balanchine Trust and have been produced in accordance with the Balanchine Style® and Balanchine Technique® service standards established and provided by the Trust.

About the Artistic Directors

Thordal Christensen is the co-Artistic Director for the Los Angeles Ballet. The world of dance claims Mr. Christensen as one of its most respected citizens.  Mr. Christensen danced with the Royal Danish Ballet, New York City Ballet and Pacific Northwest Ballet in major roles in the classical and modern repertoire. He was appointed artistic director of the Royal Danish Ballet and the Royal Danish Ballet School in 1999.  During his leadership he advanced the company repertoire and school to new levels.  In 2002, Mr. Christensen was appointed Knight of Dannebrog by Her Majesty Margrethe II.

Colleen Neary is the co-Artistic Director for the Los Angeles Ballet. Ms. Neary danced as a soloist from 1969 to 1979 in The New York City Ballet under the direction of George Balanchine. She had numerous roles created for her by George Balanchine, Peter Martins, Jacques d’Amboise and others.  

She was invited in 1979 to be Ballet Mistress and Choreographic Assistant for the Zurich Ballet. During this period she also staged Rudolf Nureyev’s Don Quixote and Manfred for La Scala de Milan, Zurich Ballet and Vienna State Opera.  In 1984 she was invited to be Principal Guest Artist and company teacher for Maurice Béjart’s Ballet du XXième Siecle where he created several roles for her.  In 1986 she was invited to join Pacific Northwest Ballet as Principal Dancer. In 1992 she joined The Royal Danish Ballet as Ballet Mistress and company teacher. By 1999 she became First Ballet Mistress in charge of productions, a position she held until 2002.

Ms. Neary is a member of the George Balanchine Trust and has staged many of his ballets, including Agon, The Four Temperaments, Theme and Variations, Rubies, Serenade, Tarantella, Stravinsky Violin Concerto, Divertimento no.15, Piano Concerto no. 2, Concerto Barocco, Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux, and Symphony in C, for leading companies around the world. 

About the Choreographers

George Balanchine, regarded as the foremost contemporary choreographer in the world of ballet, came to the United States in late 1933 following an early career throughout Europe. The son of a composer, Balanchine early in life gained a knowledge of music that far exceeds that of most of his fellow choreographers. He began studying the piano at the age of five and following his graduation in 1921, from the Imperial Ballet School (the St. Petersburg academy where he had started his dance studies at the age of nine) he enrolled in the state’s Conservatory of Music, where he studied piano and musical theory, including composition, harmony and counterpoint, for three years. Such extensive musical training made it possible for Balanchine as a choreographer to communicate with a composer of such stature as Igor Stravinsky; the training also gave Balanchine the ability to reduce orchestral scores on the piano, an invaluable aid in translating music into dance.

Sonya Tayeh is demanding, passionate, rough, and visceral.  Born and raised in Detroit Michigan, Tayeh studied dance at Wayne State University where she received her BFA in Dance and Dance Education. Immersing herself in her studies, she graduated a year early with Honors in 2002.  After graduation, Sonya worked tirelessly to create her own dance language.  Moving to Los Angeles in 2007, Tayeh pushed for her voice to be heard.                       

Signing with McDonald Selznick Associates enabled Tayeh to quickly become a recognized and respected choreographer. Tayeh is a frequent contributor and fan-favorite on the hit television show So You Think You Can Dance.  Her work on the show has created opportunities to travel the world and contribute to concert tours, music videos, and award shows for top artists such as Kylie Minogue, Miley Cyrus, and Kerli.  Her current work includes an electronic based musical with one of her favorite artists, Steed Lord, and directing/choreographing Miley Cyrus’ 2011 Tour.   Recently she choreographed The Last Goodbye for the Williamstown Theater with music by Jeff Buckley and she is about to embark on her second commission for the Los Angeles Ballet.

Receiving prestigious accolades for choreography, teaching, and directing, Tayeh has also created her own family of dancers, Tayeh Dance Company, with whom she has produced four performances throughout the US to sold-out crowds and stellar reviews.  Tayeh has a career that is flourishing, promising, and ever evolving.

About Los Angeles Ballet

Launched in 2006 by co-artistic directors Thordal Christensen and Colleen Neary, Los Angeles Ballet enjoyed a successful first season as the city’s own professional ballet company focused on capturing the creative aesthetic unique to Southern California.  Los Angeles Ballet is committed to bringing world class dance and great dancers to every corner of Southern California through performing at different venues accessible to communities across the city and presenting varied programs designed to appeal to a large and diverse base of fans who will grow to become devoted, supportive patrons.  Recently, the company made a special appearance on the FOX network’s hit show, So You Think You Can Dance, in which they performed an excerpt from Balanchine’s Who Cares?, with a classical American score by Gershwin/Kay.

The Company, a not-for-profit arts organization, makes its professional home at the Los Angeles Ballet Dance Center in Los Angeles. Julie Whittaker is the Company’s executive director.


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