Curtain Falls on Covid, Rises on Ballet

"Sixty ballet students performed in four private studio workshop showings for friends and family the weekend of May 15th," writes Jewels Solheim-Roe, who also wrote the captions for the photos. "We have updated our Crisis Relief efforts, after losing $20k a month for a year. We have shown immense resilience during a very long thawing winter... and now wish to thrive, not just survive!"

The full cast of 60 were COVID tested so they could dance unmasked in their newly upgraded blackbox, 'Theater Studio Six.' The pre-professional dancers were professionally recorded and will be released as a dance film to the public on June 26.

"With all the uncertainty and wariness the pandemic brought into our lives, I knew that the one thing I could count on was going to ballet everyday at 4pm," shares Samohi Junior Daniella Zhou, who performed a solo from 'La Bayadère' in the role of Nikiya. "It kept a sense of normalcy and structure that I desperately craved during lockdown. My time away from Westside's beautiful studios in the beginning of lockdown allowed me to cultivate a deeper appreciation for the time I have in the studio, knowing that it is a privilege that I may not always have.

"In a world so divided by different social constructs, different beliefs, and opposite opinions, ballet has the marvelous ability to bring people together. It is a universal language," said Zhou.

Recently Santa Monica resident Zoe Singh and her fellow graduating Senior dancers took outdoor photos–with photographer and Westside alumna Anne Slattery–at various Santa Monica landmarks.

"I was so grateful for the opportunity to participate in this outdoor photography campaign with Anne," said Singh. "After such a long stretch of feeling isolated while continuing to train during the pandemic, it was such an amazing feeling to be outdoors, which she captured so perfectly in the photos from the shoot. The experience reminded me of why dance is so special, as it is an art form which allows us to express ourselves in a manner that speaks to all who witness it."

Westside Ballet's press release also announced special guest teachers for their upcoming Summer session from New York City Ballet and more: "Summer Sessions provide dancers at all levels with a continuation of their year-round training, including exposure to other dance disciplines (jazz, contemporary, and character). In addition to the regular two 3-week sessions Summer Sessions, Westside School of Ballet offers supplementary intensives, including talented guest faculty from: New York City Ballet, soloists Indiana Woodward, Harrison Coll, & Georgina Pazcoguin; plus Westside's celebrated alumna, Abigail Simon (American Ballet Theater, Joffrey Ballet, and Broadway's 'An American In Paris').

"Even amidst such upheaval, the staff, faculty, and students "dance forward." Being vigilant to local, state, and federal COVID guidelines, Westside continues to offer classes for children and adults. With programs for all ages, the summer classes are also catered to suit every level of study."

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