Intensive ballet program ends with shows

August 09, 2012|By Heather Youmans
  • Carla Korbes of Pacific Northwest Ballet with Fabrice Calmel of the Joffrey Ballet. At the gala, the duo will perform Christopher Wheeldon's "After the Rain."
Carla Korbes of Pacific Northwest Ballet with Fabrice… (Courtesy of Festival…)

The Irvine Barclay Theatre's contemporary dance series whirls on with "Southland Ballet Academy: Summer Ballet Intensive Performance" and "Festival Ballet Theatre: Gala of the Stars."

Summer Ballet Intensive features final performances from Southland Ballet Academy's three-week program, which began 20 years ago, Southland Ballet owner Salwa Rizkalla said.

In late July, more than 90 students from Japan, England, Germany, Canada and the United States began rehearsals at Southland Ballet's studios in Fountain Valley.

Prior to rehearsals, a local audition or YouTube screening helped place students into four levels — junior, intermediate, advanced or professional — based on their age and ability.

"You have to be at a good level of ballet technique because if you are not, you are not going to enjoy it," Rizkalla said. "It's not really for beginners, but serious students that aspire to be professional."


During the condensed program, students ages 9 to 18 take educational courses in ballet technique and pointe, and learn modern choreography, according to Rizkalla.

"They're on their feet from 9 [a.m.] to 4 [p.m.] nonstop," she said. "The dancer lives to dance. So my kids live to dance. They are in heaven working every day, with no pressure of school, or anything else. Instead of lying on the beach, they are in the classroom dancing and loving it."

Students get the opportunity to study with internationally known ballet masters, who lend guidance and expertise.

"I like to expose my dancers to very different teachers and different styles because it's always good for them, Rizkalla said. "It's very different from choreographer to choreographer and from teacher to teacher."

International faculty include Gailene Stock, director of the Royal Ballet School, UK; Larissa Saveliev, founder and artistic director of Youth America Grand Prix; Gary Norman, senior classical teacher at the Royal Ballet School, UK; Misha Tchoupakov, former dancer with the Bolshoi Ballet; Alex Kalinin, former dancer with the Bolshoi Ballet and character ballet master; Olivier Lucea, teacher at Princess Grace Academy in Monaco; and Jeroen Verbruggen, first soloist with Les Ballets de Monte Carlo.

"Ballet is really an education," Rizkalla said. "They [the students] improve a lot, but besides improving, when you give them such a caliber of teacher they understand the importance of the art and they really appreciate it more."

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