Westside Ballet of Santa Monica announces a weekend ballet celebration commemorating the late company founder and ballet icon, Yvonne Mounsey.
Festivities begin Saturday, June 8, featuring a Centennial Gala fundraiser dinner and classical ballet performance, followed on Sunday, June 9, with two dance presentations, that include George Balanchine’s masterwork, Serenade, and Yvonne Mounsey’s Classical Symphony.
Westside Ballet has a direct lineage from the New York City Ballet (NYCB), whose founding artistic director, George Balanchine, choreographed the breathtaking ballet, Serenade, inspired by sculpture, and set to Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings. Mounsey was a principal ballerina in the original production and Balanchine gave her the original costumes, designed by legendary costume designer Madame Barbara Karinska.
Since 1979, Westside Ballet has owned—and generations of Westside dancers have performed in—the original Serenade costumes from NYCB whose labels are inside the bodices, along with the name of every legendary ballerina who first wore each costume. Due to this special relationship, The George Balanchine Trust grants permission to Westside Ballet to perform Balanchine’s ballets
Participating in the gala celebration are two Topanga ballerinas, Sidney Brody and Zoe Mack.
Sidney Brody, a sophomore at Palisades Charter High, marks her fourth year dancing with Westside Ballet and her eighth performance on the Broad Stage. This year, she will be showcased in George Balanchine’s Serenade, Faust, and Cabaret. During the Serenade rehearsals she worked with the legendary NYCB ballerina Patricia Neary.
“It was a surreal experience and an honor to work with such an accomplished dancer,” Brody said. “I learned so much from working with her.”
She is grateful for all the amazing teachers who spend hours sharing their talent and shaping her and her level into the best dancers they can be. “Westside is a special place,” she says. “I have made friends there that I would never have known. I don’t know what I would do without them.”
Zoe Mack, 14, has been dancing at Westside Ballet since age seven. She is graduating from Paul Revere Charter Middle School this spring and is excited to enter ninth grade at Palisades High School in the fall. She loves dancing in Westside Ballet’s Spring performances each year and the opportunity they provide for her to explore new music and choreography. During the last two years, she has performed in excerpts from the Sleeping Beauty and Midsummer Nights’ Dream ballets.
This year’s celebration of Westside founder Yvonne Mounsey is especially exciting for her, as she will perform in several works dedicated to her memory, including Classical Symphony and Faust. Mack is also excited to perform in this year’s Jazz piece, Cabaret. She says she is very grateful to all of her teachers at Westside for their incredible dedication, training, and artistry.
“Westside is a home away from home for me, a place to be with close friends and community, a place to work hard, to be inspired, and to dream,” she says.
Martine Harley, Artistic Director of Westside Ballet of Santa Monica, says, “It has been such a wonderful experience to watch these two young dancers grow and evolve as artists. It’s very emotional for me to experience and shape their journey as dancers and people. I’m so proud of them.”
Saturday, June 8, Gala reception at 5 p.m., Gala performance, with dinner following at 6 p.m. Gala tickets are $85, $120, and $195 with dinner.
Sunday, June 9, Spring Performances are at 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. Sunday tickets are $35.
Tickets may be purchased online at www.westsideballet.com, or by phone (additional fees apply) at (800) 595-4849 (4TIX).
The Broad Stage at the Santa Monica College Performing Arts Center, is located at 1310 11th St., Santa Monica, CA 90401.
Westside Ballet of Santa Monica is a non-profit company comprised of dancers from Westside School of Ballet, Los Angeles’ oldest and most successful public ballet school, now celebrating its 52nd anniversary. Founded in 1967 by NYCB principal ballerina, Yvonne Mounsey, and co-founder, Royal Ballet’s Rosemary Valaire, the school distinguishes itself as a non-audition school where all are welcome to study ballet and train to the most refined pre-professional level. The company provides the promising young the performance opportunities that are so vital to their growth — and makes dance more accessible to local children and families. Based in Santa Monica, California, Westside Ballet of Santa Monica comprises approximately 100 dancers, ages 8 to 18.
For more information, visit www.westsideballet.com