Pacific Ballet Dance Theatre is back in the NoHo Arts District with “La Pasión de España,” a fiery and progressive production of “Carmen” and “Don Quixote (Act I).” Based on Bizet’s opera, “Carmen” tells the story of a seductive Spanish Gypsy who loves wildly, and dangerously. “Don Quixote” is a romantic comedy, full of chivalry and fantasy. Performances at the El Portal Theatre in North Hollywood are Saturday, September 12 at 8pm and Sunday, September 13 at 3pm.
The program will blend neoclassical ballet (PBDT’s distinguishing specialty), flamenco, and theatrical drama. Choreographing is Pacific Ballet Dance Theatre’s Artistic Director, Natasha Middleton. She says, “Carmen is a hot and fiery ballet, the ultimate tale of love and obsession, then betrayal. I once danced the role of Carmen, and knowing her personality made it easy when recreating the ballet from scratch. She is sensual and passionate.” Using the music of Bizet and Schedrin inspired Middleton to incorporate the flamenco dancers. “Don Quixote, Act I, is the opposite of Carmen. It’s a tale of friendship, love and loyalty. It is about a romantic old knight who invents stories to fulfill his need for chivalrous adventures. I keep the ballet in its original choreography by Marius Petipa, with a few added trick lifts and leaps here and there.”
Taylor Swantek as Carmen with Ottavio Taddei
The cast of “Carmen” is: principal dancers Taylore Swantek as Carmen and Grigori Arakelyan as Don Jose. Damara Titmus is Micaëla, Artur Aleksanyan is Escamillo, Marine De Vachon is Frasquita, Natalie Grina is Mercédès, Brandon Forrest is Remendado, Ottavio Taddei is Dancaïre, and Zachary Leighton is Zuniga. Emily Braff, Lauren Farrell, Charlotte Harrop, Aimee Ozeki, Musetta Rubin, Julie Sanches, and Grace Tiangco are the Cigarette Factory Girls and Gypsies. Moses Navarro is a featured flamenco dancer, along with special guest dancers Oleg and Nataliia Loparevi.
The cast of “Don Quixote” is: principal dancers Edgar Nikolyan as Basilio, Irina Gharibyan as Kitri, and Alexander Fost as Lead Toreador. Damara Titmus is Gypsy Girl, Marine De Vachon and Natalie Grina are Kitri’s Friends, Craig Dickens is Don Quixote, Moses Navarro is Lorenzo, and Philippe Leibzig is Gamache. Artur Aleksanyan, Brandon Forrest, Zachary Leighton, and Ottavio Taddei are Toreadors. Emily Braff, Musetta Rubin, Julie Sanches, Grace Tiangco, and Lauren Farrell and Chloe Tilton are Villagers.
“The Pacific Ballet Dance Theatre is one of Southern California’s elite dance companies. In a city where the classic arts take a back seat to the film industry, the PBDT can stand tall as not only a top company in Los Angeles, but is on par excellence with similar companies on the East coast and around the world such as the American Ballet Theatre, Ballet West and the Royal Ballet.” - Hollywood News Press
We asked Pacific Ballet Dance Theatre more about “La Pasión De España.”
Why did Pacific Ballet Dance Theatre choose these two pieces?
Pacific Ballet Dance Theatre chose Carmen because of its powerful story and exciting choreography. It is a one act ballet set to the music of George Bizet and arranged by Rodian Schedrin. I, personally, felt the challenge to set the ballet because of my having danced the role of Carmen several years ago for the Ambassador of Thailand. I am delighted to pass the torch down to our principal dancer Taylor Swantek. Ms. Swantek is a dynamic dancer as well as a beautiful actress. Grigori Arakelyan as Don Jose is a perfect match for her.
In keeping with the Spanish theme, I have chosen selections from the Ballet Don Quixote because of its light hearted story. I am using the original choreography by Marius Petipa. Irina Gharibyan as Kitri and Edgar Nikolyan as Don Baslio are a delight to watch. I believe that these two particular ballets brought together in one performance will give something to everyone in the audience to thoroughly enjoy.
Why did Pacific Ballet Dance Theatre choose NoHo?
The NoHo District promotes the arts the way they should be promoted, and our company loves performing at the renowned El Portal Theatre.
Damara Titmus and Grigori Arakelyan rehearsing a pas de deux for Carmen Damara Titmus and Grigori Arakelyan rehearsing a pas de deux for Carmen
What makes Pacific Ballet Dance Theatre more attractive to a wider audience?
We are story tellers and our performances appeal to a wider audience because of our ability to perform both the very classical as well as contemporary and neoclassic such as Dance in the USA, and The British beat. Such ballets include Rock Music from Michael Jackson to the Beatles. These particular ballets are designed for first time viewers as well as dance enthusiasts.
Can you describe to the readers what neoclassical ballet is?
Neoclassical ballet is the style of the 20th century ballet exemplified by the works of three great dancer-choreographers, Leonide Massine, Vaslav Nijinsky, and George Balanchine. The term "neoclassical ballet" appears in the 1920s with Sergei Diagiliev's Ballets Russes, in response to the excesses of romanticism and modernity.
WHAT: “La Pasión De España”
WHEN: Saturday, September 12 at 8pm and Sunday, September 13 at 3pm
WHERE: El Portal Theatre
5269 Lankershim Blvd.
North Hollywood CA 91601
TICKETS: $49 for center seats and $41 for side seats
www.elportaltheatre.com or 818.508.4200.
Very limited $100 VIP packages for the September 12 show only include best seat ticket, a wine and cheese pre-show reception, show poster, Playbill credit, and photo opportunity with a principal dancer and can be purchased by calling 818.842.0647.
Pacific Ballet Dance Theatre, under the direction of Middleton, is celebrating its 14th season. Over the past decade, the company has become one of the major dance companies in Los Angeles. The dancers come from such companies as the Dresden Ballet, Armenian National Ballet, Nevada Ballet, and Denver Ballet.
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