Westside Ballet of Santa Monica Announces Nutcracker Presentations
Westside Ballet of Santa Monica Announces
Joy Womack, first American female to be accepted into the Bolshoi Ballet and former Westside student, returns to her native Southern California to perform as Sugar Plum Fairy, in loving memory of Yvonne Mounsey, legendary ballerina and Westside’s former director. Westside’s 2012 Nutcracker productions are dedicated to Yvonne Mounsey’s legacy.
Now in its fourth decade of performances, Westside Ballet of Santa Monica announces the return of its annual holiday classic, The Nutcracker, Dec 7-9 at the Wadsworth Theatre in Brentwood.
The cast includes Culver City residents.
Based on E.T.A. Hoffman’s “Nutcracker and the King of Mice,” Westside’s Nutcracker is the traditional, full-length ballet, set to Tchaikovsky’s majestic score, with exuberant choreography and lavish costumes.
Artistic direction closely follows that of George Balanchine’s original version, passed on by the late and legendary Yvonne Mounsey, who created the Nutcracker role of Center Spanish during the peak of her career as principal dancer with New York City Ballet.
“Ours is very true to the story as is reflected in the music and the spirit,” says Caprice Walker, Associate Artistic Director of Westside’s Nutcracker. “We have all of the elements that audiences look for – the falling snow, a Christmas tree that grows, and that magical moment when the Polichinelle’s pop out from under Mother Ginger’s skirt.”
Westside Ballet of Santa Monica draws its company from the affiliated Westside School of Ballet, featured in Point Magazine as one of seven leading ballet schools in the country. Students have gone on to distinguished careers with top ballet companies, including New York City Ballet, American Ballet Theater, and many more.
The 2012 Nutcracker will also feature guest artists Joy Womack (Bolshoi Ballet) and Erin Rivera-Brennand as the glittering Sugar Plum Fairy. Ms. Womack began her training at Westside School of Ballet and recently became the first American female to be invited into the renowned Bolshoi Ballet Company.
Yvonne Mounsey in her legendary role as Siren in George Balanchine’s Prodigal Son.
Dedicated to the Legacy of Yvonne Mounsey
This year’s Nutcracker is dedicated to the memory of Yvonne Mounsey, the legendary former New York City Ballet principal dancer, and Westside Ballet of Santa Monica’s beloved Artistic Director.
Ms. Mounsey achieved her greatest acclaim as a dancer in the early 1950's as the bewitching Siren in Balanchine's "Prodigal Son." Other notable roles performed by Mounsey include the Queen in "The Cage" and the Harp in "Fanfare."
Yvonne Mounsey (right) in 2010, with Chung Myung Park during Nutcracker dress rehearsals. Ms. Park is now a member of San Francisco Ballet. Photo by Todd Lechtick.
Several years after retiring from New York City Ballet, Ms. Mounsey, along with partner Rosemarie Valaire (Royal Ballet), formed the pre-professional ballet company known today as Westside Ballet of Santa Monica.
From 1973 to 2011, Ms. Mounsey oversaw Westside’s annual Nutcracker, teaching dancers the same choreography and dance techniques she learned directly from the great George Balanchine. Her surviving artistic staff, having taught side-by-side with Ms. Mounsey over the years, will devotedly direct this year’s Nutcrackers in the same tradition.
Sugar Plum Fairy Guest Artists
This year, Westside Ballet is excited to announce two guest Sugar Plum Fairies.
Joy Womack with Yvonne Mounsey at Westside School of Ballet studios, photograph by Regina Castillo
Performance photo of Joy Womack by Vihao Pham
Joy Annabelle Womack, age 18, recently made history by becoming the first American female to be invited into the renowned Bolshoi Ballet Company. She was also the first American female to be accepted into the Bolshoi Academy’s 3-year Russian program. In 2011, Joy received the Grand Prix award at the Youth America Grand Prix in Paris.
Joy began her training at Westside School of Ballet, and performed in Westside Ballet of Santa Monica’s Nutcracker in 2005. Joy says she is honored to return to her native Southern California, to dance the Sugar Plum Fairy, in loving memory of Yvonne Mounsey.
Says Joy of her experience with Yvonne, “She would say in class ‘you have to do everything full out and you have to dance all the time in class, no matter what happens.’ She taught me to enjoy dancing and express my emotions and that was the thing that set me apart in Russia.”
Erin Rivera-Brennand with Maco Doussias in Sleeping Beauty, photograph by Todd Lechtick.
Erin Rivera-Brennand, has been soloist and principal dancer with Texas Ballet Theater and Los Angeles Ballet. Prior to launching her professional career she trained with American Ballet Theater, Pennsylvania Ballet, Boston Ballet, and Dallas Metropolitan Ballet.
In 2007, Erin performed to sold-out audiences as Princess Aurora in Westside Ballet of Santa Monica’s full-length production of Sleeping Beauty.
Two Charming Claras are Westside Ballet Students
The role of Clara, the daughter in the Silberhaus family who guides us through her adventures with The Nutcracker, is proudly filled this year by two Westside Ballet students.
Emilia Davies will also perform as Clara in the 2012 Nutcracker, photograph by Todd Lechtick.
Anna Davytan rehearses as Clara with Associate Director Caprice Walker, photograph by Todd Lechtick.
Anna Davtyan is 12 years old, and has been dancing at Westside ballet since she was 5. She participated in the School of American Ballet summer program in 2011 and 2012. Anna is in seventh grade at Paul Revere Middle School SAS (School for Advanced Studies) program.
Emilia “Milly” Davies began taking ballet classes at age 3 in Sydney, Australia. She moved to Los Angeles the week she turned 5, and immediately joined classes at Westside Ballet. Milly is in 7th Grade at Corpus Christi School, Pacific Palisades.
Male solo and principal roles will be played by professionals and Westside School of Ballet alumni such as Evan Swenson (formerly with Houston Ballet), Sven Toorvald (formerly with Houston Ballet), Johnny Zhong (formerly with Classical Ballet of Guangzhou), Maco Doussias (formerly with Columbia City Ballet), and Seth Belliston (International Guest Artist and recipient of the Princess Grace Award for Excellence). Antonio Lopez (formerly with San Francisco Ballet) will also appear as Dr. Drosselmeyer.
In addition to being a legendary artist, Yvonne Mounsey was a tireless humanitarian. Since its inception, Westside Ballet of Santa Monica has sought to nurture dance in the community, with affordable, accessible performances.
Continuing in that tradition, this year Westside Ballet of Santa Monica has donated hundreds of free tickets to the Venice Family Clinic, Los Angeles Veterans, everybody dance!, and Free 2 Be Me Dance, a dance program for children with Downs Syndrome.
Tickets and Show Times
The Nutcracker will be performed one weekend only, Dec 7-9 at the Wadsworth Theatre, 11301 Wilshire Blvd, Brentwood (Los Angeles), CA 90073. Show times are Dec 7 at 7:30 pm, Dec 8 at 1 pm and 5 pm, and Dec 9 at 1 pm and 5 pm. All tickets are $30 and can be purchased at www.ticketmaster.com or at the Wadsworth Box Office one hour prior to show time.
Sugar Plum artist dates are as follows:
Joy Womack will perform on Dec 7 at 7:30 pm, Dec 8 at 5 pm and Dec. 9 at 1 pm.
Erin Rivera-Brennand will perform on Dec 8 at 1 pm and Dec 9 at 5 pm.
For more information, visit www.westsideballet.com
For additional information, interviews, special show arrangements, at-event liaison.
Cell 310-273-4340 firstname.lastname@example.org
Facebook: WESTSIDE BALLET OF SANTA MONICA