Pacific Festival Ballet Dazzles with "The Nutcracker"
The Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza recently celebrated 25 years of bringing arts and entertainment to the Conejo Valley. Pacific Festival Ballet has been a part of that story since 1994 and continues to make dance history in the community today.
The ballet company is well known for its dazzling production of “The Nutcracker,” which comes to life every holiday season. The cast features community talent, Los Angeles-based professionals and international ballet celebrities from New York City, Miami, Seattle and San Francisco. These stars light up the Kavli Theatre stage year after year, exciting audiences and cast members alike.
“As a director, it is important for me to bring world-class talent to the Conejo Valley,” says Kim Maselli. “Bringing these celebrity dancers to our stage educates and inspires our patrons. It can also spark the dream for our community dancers to pursue careers of their own. Seeing these accomplished professionals up close encourages our dancers to realize their own dreams are attainable.”
These dreams come with a lot of hard work, talent and dedication. Pacific Festival Ballet’s training school, California Dance Theatre, has been a thriving arts organization in the community since 1985. The CDT curriculum offers classes in all dance forms for preschool children through adults. It also offers a Pre-professional Training Program for the serious-minded student wishing to pursue ballet as a career.
“As in most art forms,” says Patrick Frantz, ballet master and former dancer with Paris Opera Ballet, “it takes about 10 years of training to refine your skills and artistry. You need to have talent and a deep passion from within to keep driving you forward.”
Talent and passion abound at Pacific Festival Ballet. Over the past 25 years a multitude of dancers have gone on to professional careers and attribute their success to training, performing opportunities and mentoring from their instructors.
Alumni Leili Rackow, now a member of San Francisco Ballet, reflects on her PFB journey.
“When I was a child dancing in ‘The Nutcracker,’ Tina LeBlanc, guest artist from San Francisco Ballet, was the Sugar Plum Fairy. It was so magical to dance in the same production with this famous ballerina. Now years later, I am in San Francisco Ballet and Tina LeBlanc has become my coach!”
This story of ballet dreams realized has overflowed onto Pacific Festival Ballet hopefuls who are now dancing professionally with New York City Ballet, Cincinnati Ballet, Milwaukee Ballet, American Midwest Ballet, Indianapolis Ballet and Kansas City Ballet. The exceptional training they received and the endless performing opportunities helped mold them into the artists they are today.
Alumni and professional dancer Emiko Flanagan reflects on her own career.
“Growing up I performed at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza for years. I never realized until I began performing throughout America and Europe what a world-class theatre I had in my own backyard,” says Flanagan. “Now when I return to perform with Pacific Festival Ballet as a guest artist, I look at the new generation of dancers and realize they have no idea what a gift they have!”
Many Pacific Festival Ballet dancers will move on to future performing opportunities and realize the treasure they have. While their wings will spread and their careers soar, they will always remember there is no place like home!
Join Pacific Festival Ballet for its 26th annual performance of “The Nutcracker” on Saturday, December 21 and Sunday, December 22, at 2 and 7 p.m. Tickets are available at the Civic Arts Plaza Box Office, 2100 E. Thousand Oaks Blvd. or Ticketmaster.com.
Learn more at PacFestBallet.org.