Arts & Culture

A ballet sampler at the Clark Center

Santa Maria Civic Ballet dancers, above, will perform with Everybody Can Dance.
Santa Maria Civic Ballet dancers, above, will perform with Everybody Can Dance. PHOTO BY CAROLE ZINK

Classical ballet, in the historical tradition of Russia’s famed Kirov company, will be featured in a production at the Clark Center by dancers from Santa Maria Civic Ballet and the studio of Everybody Can Dance.

Guest artist Sayat Asatryan, who was formerly with the Moscow Kremlin Ballet, will dance the male lead roles in two works by Marius Petipa from the 1800s. The third piece in the show is a whimsical take on Mother Goose, choreographed by Diane Zink, director of both Santa Maria Ballet and Everybody Can Dance.

The program will please all ages, Zink said. “There is joy, beauty, celebration, and laughter.”

The 45 dancers range from age 3 to adults. “The Wedding” from “Paquita” is a challenging example of classical ballet for the dancers, she explained. “It’s hard, but fun and is often required in dance competitions. It’s known for the Grand pas classique, where various dancers perform solos from their favorite ballets.”

The story is a colorful romance about Paquita, raised by Spanish Gypsies until she discovers that she is royalty and will marry the man of her dreams, Zink explained.

“The dancers understand the joy and the seriousness of the wedding celebration.”

Dancers age 11 and up perform in “Kingdom of the Shades” from “La Bayadere,” a piece with an ethereal quality.

“It is one of the most celebrated excerpts in all of classical ballet,” the director said. “It was inspired by Dore’s illustration for Dante’s Paradise in ‘The Divine Comedy.’ Its 24 dancers depict eternal creatures who, with a specially built ramp, will appear to float down from Heaven.”

These two ballets, written in the 1840s, are performed in the Kirov tradition. In “La Bayadere” the dances were designed from art scenes and carefully tailored to the music by Austrian composer Ludwig Minkus, Zink explained.

“The Kirov kept and preserved them in pure historical form. The ‘Bayadere’ is spellbinding.”

Sayat Asatryan, who dances the male lead roles in both ballets, studied in Russia at the Voronezh Ballet School and St. Peterburg Ballet Academy. He and his wife now own and direct Encinitas Ballet Academy and Art Center.

In “Kingdom of the Shades” Asatryan will partner alternately with Santa Maria Civic Ballet principal dancers Stephanie Turner Deck and Candice Hull and with Miranda Poirier and Jasmine Gonzales in “The Wedding.” He has been coaching partnering during rehearsals and is an inspiration for boys and young men as they see the physicality of male ballet dancers, Zink said. “They need the power to jump and lift, and their roles are often heroic.”

Josh Nohrer, 13, one of the studio’s dancers, recently won second place in the junior men’s division in the Santa Barbara Ballet competition.

The “Mother Goose” piece adds humor to the program and gives younger dancers an opportunity to perform. “It’s full of comedy, playground games, and nursery rhymes.”

The dancers, from 3 to 10, tease, play and tell secrets while Mother Goose sleeps. “The young dancers have fun with their antics and understand the comedy. The older ones have a more jazzy style in this piece,” the choreographer said.

The program will appeal to a wide age range, with the beauty of classical ballet complemented by a light, fun piece, while dancers of all ages are given the opportunity to shine.

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