Drive In Dance Movie

By Jewels Solheim-Roe

Westside Ballet of Santa Monica announces a drive-in film event for arts advocacy at the Santa Monica College Bundy Campus' East Parking lot, to be held Friday & Saturday, October 9th & 10th, at 7:30 & 10pm as a Drive-In Movie venture in conjunction with Santa Monica College's Public Policy Institute Annual Arts Forum and the SMC Dance Department.

A 50-minute compilation of Santa Monica's most celebrated dance companies, choreographers, and dancers includes the preeminent contemporary dance company Barak Ballet, distinguished alumni and current young dancers from Santa Monica's acclaimed Westside Ballet of Santa Monica, and SMC's diverse Global Motion World Dance Company, Synapse Contemporary Dance Theater, and the exuberant and award-winning Ballet Folklórico Flor de Mayo.

In addition to Joy Womack's piece, the film includes two other exquisite excerpts from Westside's 2019 Centennial Gala: The Grand Défilé and an excerpt from Westside Ballet's 2019 performance of Balanchine's quintessential Serenade, staged by Patricia Neary.

A Junior at Santa Monica's Crossroads school, dancer Daisy Kohner (16) danced in Serenade as well as the Défilé. "To me, Grace and Grit is an image for every part of the artistic world to look to as a symbol of hope," says Daisy. "This film proves that ballet can be more than just a performance. Ballet on film is a demonstration of dedication, perseverance, and passion for the arts."

The Grand Défilé is a presentation of the entire ballet company-from the youngest to the most experienced-to exhibit the evolution of each dancer toward the pinnacle of their training as pre-professional artists. This year's dancers demonstrated their resilience by recreating their own parts in the Défilé, each from their own space, so they could come together virtually.

Notre Dame Academy sixth grader, Piper Everly (11) filmed her Défilé piece from her make-shift home dance studio last June, exactly a year since the nonprofit performance company had presented it at The Broad Stage. "To me, "Grace & Grit" means that even though we are not dancing in the same way as before, we can still work hard to make our dancing beautiful and to achieve our goals."

The film also showcases two new works by three aspiring Westside Ballet pre-professional dancers and aspiring young choreographers in their own rights: Samara Koseff, Mac Pampinella and Zane Tahvildaran-Jesswein.

Also at Crossroads School, Samara Koseff (17) created Misconception, informed by the well-known lyrics to the song "My Funny Valentine" by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart––though she used the instrumental version by Chet Baker for her choreography. She choreographed her piece on herself from the woman's point-of-view, embodying feminine strength and purpose.

"While it was challenging participating in the class remotely due to quarantine – it also forced me to think outside the box and use the environment at my disposal. The couch, my main prop, belonged to my grandfather. He had it in his law office for 50 years and took naps on it every afternoon. He loved Broadway musicals, and I think he would have gotten a kick out his beloved couch being a part of my creative process and ultimately contributing to the Grace and Grit fundraiser for Westside." said Samara.

Fellow Westside 'boys ballet' dancers, Zane Tahvildaran-Jesswein (SaMo Senior, 17) and Mac Pampinella (15), co-choreographed a piece which seeks to manifest the anger associated with grief, while also understanding it in order to overcome its grip. Set to a track from Kanisan's album, "A Way of Existing," this visceral piece, titled Daybreak, is performed by Zane and ultimately helped both choreographers prevail over recent deep personal losses.


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