In Our Own Backyard – June 2010

Napa Valley Marketplace Magazine “In Our Own Backyard” June 2010.

Grace and Music
By Julia S. Smith

Here, in our own backyard,  for those seeking an education in dance,  you can find the only non-profit,  classical ballet school in Napa. Discover the world of dance at Napa Valley Ballet! The organization is funded and operated by local families,  which is unique in itself, but  the professionalism you see in the  performances is most surprising.  A myriad of classes is designed for the serious student seeking a career in dance or teaching, as well as for the student who merely wants the benefits of ballet training. Classes are held at the Napa Women’s Club, 218 Franklin St., Napa, CA

At Napa Valley Ballet, each of the instructors is a professional dancer or choreographer with an impressive background. These instructors enrich their programs by bringing their dance and choreographic skills from such companies as San Francisco Ballet, the Chicago City Ballet, Peninsula Theater Ballet, the American Festival Ballet, the Long Beach Ballet and The Royal Academy of Dance, with an emphasis on providing a positive environment for establishing a solid foundation in classical ballet and dance.

As a testament to their dedication, two NVB students, Michele Biale (age 17) and Olivia Mason (age 16) have auditioned for summer intensive ballet programs and have made their way into the world of professional ballet. Michela was accepted into American Ballet Theater’s summer intensive program in Michigan, and Olivia was accepted to Kaatsbaan International Dance Center in New York. Congratulations to these young ladies.  We look forward to hearing more about their journey!

If you have an appreciation for grace and music, then the production of the Napa Valley Ballet’s spring performance is not to be missed.  “Vive” la Danse! Celebrating the Arts” with “Swan Lake”,  and four other works will be presented by the students.  Other pieces of the program will include an original ballet written exclusively for NVB by local composer, Kurt Erickson.  This work will feature the composer himself at the piano, surrounded by a corps of lively dancers in a series of five, playful vignettes, choreographed by professional dancer, Isabelle Sjasham.

As part of this performance, we also have Olivia Mason,  one of the youngest ballerinas to ever appear as Odette (the white swan) who is a Justin-Siena sophomore,.  She will be partnered by Vintage High School graduate William Luippold as Prince Siegfried. Both are students at the Napa Valley Ballet and are being coached in the original Petipa/Ivanov choreography by former ballerina and Napa Valley Ballet Mistress, Milissa Bradley.

In addition, a whimsical Chopin ballet, inspired by Isadora Ducan, will be choreographed by Connie Vaughan and accompanied on the piano by Martin Mansell.  Rounding out the program will be a medley of familiar songs, commemorating fifty years of “Beatlemania”,  and spotlighting local songster Doug Houser, as he accompanies Napa Valley Ballet dancers in a piece of nostalgia set by choreographer Vivian Aragon.  All original ballets will be accompanied by live musicians.

For more information or tickets to the June 15th, “Vive la Danse! A Celebration of the Arts”, call 707-294-8820 or visit  Performance, silent auction, art showing and reception is included. Tickets are $12 for adults, $6 for children, (children 5 and under are free).

Ballet classes are now forming a 3-week summer session.  Call 707-294-8820 for more dates and pricing.


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