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Gualala Arts

Promoting public interest and participation in the arts since 1961.

Archive of past events: 2004 through 2014


Gualala Arts Presents:
Dance in the Redwoods, 2011

San Francisco Ballet School Trainee Program

Saturday, November 5, 7:30 p.m.
Sunday,     November 6, 1:00 p.m.
at the Gualala Arts Center
Buy tickets

San Francisco Ballet logo Combine delicate grace with dynamic perfection, muscle with calm assuredness; mix these with a little mischief and you have The San Francisco Ballet Student Trainees. The dancers return to the Arts Center with an entirely new repertoire to enchant the audience with performances of exquisite beauty. To further enhance the audience experience, the auditorium will be set with risers for ideal viewing!

San Francisco Ballet Student Trainees, photo credit: Erik Tomasson
photo © Erik Tomasson
A hum of excitement generated throughout the community last year, as the young artists brought their exceptional aptitude and ebullient vitality to the stage. One of the pleasures of becoming a member of our ballet audience is to observe these youthful careers unfold and transform from student into the renowned stars of tomorrow's world of dance.

Students ranging in age from 16 - 19 years old audition from around the world and the most talented are selected to participate in the Trainee Program. The selection process is by invitation from SF Ballet Artistic Director Helgi Tomasson and School Associate Director Lola de Avila. Patrick Armand, former principal dancer of Boston Ballet and former Ballet Master at Teatro alla Scala in Milan, teaches and coaches the students. Wendy Van Dyck, former Principal Dancer of San Francisco Ballet, coordinates this comprehensive program preparing the students for their professional careers.

San Francisco Ballet Student Trainees, photo credit: Erik Tomasson
photo © Erik Tomasson
Seven of the dancers who performed at Gualala Arts Center last year were contracted by San Francisco Ballet's Artistic Director Helgi Tomasson and will be dancing with the Company at the Opera House in the coming season. Wan Ting Zhao and Francisco Mungamba are now members of the Corps de Ballet. Those named as Apprentices are: Ellen Rose Hummel, Elizabeth Powell, Shion Yuasa, Sean Bennet and Henry Sidford. Trainees returning to Gualala for a second year are Trygve Cumpston, Alex-Reneff-Olson, Geraud Wielick and Lacey Escabar.

An informative radio preview is added this year. Fred Adler will interview Wendy Van Dyck, the Trainee Program Coordinator. Wendy was formerly a Principal Dancer with San Francisco Ballet. Her insights of the transition from dedicated student to accomplished performer promises to be stimulating and revealing. The interview will air locally on KTDE 100.5 FM on Sunday, October 30th at 9:30 a.m. and Wednesday, November 2nd at 6:00 p.m.

San Francisco Ballet Student Trainees, photo credit: Erik Tomasson
photo © Erik Tomasson
Dance in the Redwoods once again graciously thanks an Anonymous Donor for their generous participation as Partial Underwriter. If you would like to match this $2,500 donation to underwrite this vibrant troupe's performances as they embark on their professional careers, please contact Irma Brandt, Dance Event Coordinator or David (Sus) Susalla, Executive Director of the Gualala Art Center, 884-1138.

You can become a supporter of the San Francisco Ballet School Trainee Program in additional ways, by purchasing a Ballet Sponsor ticket for $78, or by contributing to their housing, food and transportation. This additional support includes a Sponsor Reception with open wine bar and appetizers, and first seating availability, on Saturday, November 5 at 6:30 p.m., one hour prior to the performance.

It is with anticipation and excitement that we invite you to become a member of the Gualala Arts' ballet audience. Don't miss the opportunity to get your tickets early for these performances.

Dance in the Redwoods, 2011

Performance, Saturday, November 5, 7:30 p.m.
Performance, Sunday,   November 6, 1:00 p.m

Sponsors Reception:
Saturday, November 5, 6:30 p.m. (must have Sponsor Ticket)

$78 Sponsor Ticket includes:
- Performance for Saturday
- Doors open one hour prior to performance so you can choose your seats
- Open wine bar & appetizers

$20 General Admission, Doors open 30 minutes prior to performance
$10 Youth 7-17, Doors open 30 minutes prior to performance

Buy tickets online

Reviews of
Dance in the Redwoods, 2010

Gualala Arts Center
November, 2010

"As so often occurs on the Mendonoma coast, this Inaugural Event of the San Francisco Ballet Trainee Program at the Gualala Arts Center grew out of a serendipitous chain of events inspired by chance comments and meetings.

I am delighted that this extraordinarily talented group of pre-professionals received an outstanding enthusiastic reception from the community. We look forward to presenting them again in the near future."

- Irma Brandt

Gualala Arts: the future of ballet is secure

By Iris Lorenz-Fife
Independent Coast Observer
November 19, 2010

San Francisco Ballet at Gualala Arts -- it felt like a once-in-a-lifetime experience for the palpable excitement, the youthful energy on stage, and for the total commitment of twelve young dancers and their audience.

The first of two programs opened at Gualala Arts (on Friday November 12, 2010 (the second was on Saturday)) with twelve dancers from the San Francisco Ballet School Trainee Program on stage before an eager audience.

The opening dance, an excerpt from Helgi Tomasson's Giuliani, featured ten of the dancers in light airy costumes with touches of bright color. The guys were clearly reining-in their grands jetés to our small stage, the gals seemed willing to dance up a storm; there was a nice partnering and mostly good unison as they settled into the somewhat restricted space.

These young trainees perform at schools and community centers, corporate and special events, as well as on the Opera House's main stage during the current ballet season.

Next, Lew Christensen's Pas de Deux to Vivaldi's Concerto Grosso featured the exquisite WanTing Zhao from Beijing, and Trygve Cumpston (IL). Cumpston proved himself a caring, and limber, partner as he presented Zhao with her perfect sense of balance.

For the Flower Festival Pas de Deux with choreography by August Bournonville a folkloric couple sold their dance with delightful smiles. Ellen Rose Hummel (SC) and Geraud Wielick (Belgium) interwove solos and duets with winsome interaction. Wielick's athleticism made me wish the stage was much bigger, while Hummel's balance became more secure with her second solo.

The program's first half concluded with an unforgettable dance to Franz Schubert's Piano Sonata No.21 in B-flat, D.960, choreographed as Andante Sostenuto by Francisco Martinez. Three couples in white (the guys in white trousers, the gals in long dresses) presented Martinez's angular and sophisticated dance. The lifts were light as air and took on modern, angular, shapes; the partnering presented each couple as a seamless whole.

Jessica Cohen (CA) and Francisco Mungamba (Spain) opened the pas de deux with an evocative dance, somewhat sad, deeply felt. Elizabeth Powell (MA) and Henry Sidford (MA) were lovers who could not bear to part. And Lacey Escabar (CA) and Cumpston showed the joyful side of unity.

This last pair -- Escabar and Cumpston -- showed how dancers' physiques are changing. From the days when ballerinas were no more than half to two-thirds the height of their partners, (or if tall then grotesquely thin,) we now have more pairs of equal height with slim healthy bodies. This must mean that the women have to have more strength, more ability to leap, while the men are required to have even greater upper body strength than in the past. Escabar and Cumpston gave us overhead lifts with changing positions that were both modern, and required more strength from each dancer.

Handel's music with Tomasson's choreography brought us A Celebration with quintets, duets and quartets involving all the dancers. They sparkled.

Lusions, the closing dance choreographed by Parrish Maynard to Roland Chadwick's music was also a full ensemble piece -- but more modern and with great ensembles of guys together, just gals, and duets. The Eastern sensibility came through from the initial stick dance to the rhythmic nature of the individual movements.

As Andante Sostenuto was the highlight of the first half, so Threading was the unforgettable piece from the whole program. Sea-greens gave an underwater feel that enhanced Francisco Mungamba's lifts of Elizabeth Powell -- holding her aloft to arc and undulate like seals in deep water. This special mood piece kept the audience spellbound to the last graceful arched back and legs, the last sensitive partnering, the last steps of Parrish Maynard's choreography, and the last notes of Ludovico Einaudi's composition Svanire.

These Trainees may stay in the Ballet School program for one or two years. I hope we can welcome the 2011 Trainees next November.

© 2010 Independent Coast Observer, Gualala, CA
Independent Coast Observer

Gualala Arts 50th anniversary logo

The Gualala Arts Center, located at 46501 Old State Highway in Gualala, CA,
is open weekdays 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., and weekends from noon to 4:00 p.m.
Please call (707) 884-1138 for more information, or email

Join us in celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Gualala Arts, 1961 - 2011

Serving the coastal communities of northern Sonoma & southern Mendocino Counties.