Jump to content
This Site Uses Cookies. If You Want to Disable Cookies, Please See Your Browser Documentation. ×

Golden Age of West Coast Ballet?

Recommended Posts

Ok, I'm totally jumping the music here, but in another (and some might say overly excited) post I hinted at a "Golden Age of West Coast Ballet" ....

This, of course, is presuming that Christopher Stowell is going to lift Oregon Ballet Theatre to heights it might not acheive without doubling the budget. (And here in tech-heavy Oregon, not likely without a strong economic recovery)

So humor me...

At both PNB and SFB, long time ADs have forged extraordinary companies that rank in anybody's top ten list. If Stowell the Younger is able to put OBT on the map...let's see...that would leave....SoCal to complete the bejeweled Left Coast necklace I am crafting. (Out of not so total fantasy, because I have heard that John Clifford is making another try at a Los Angeles based company.)

I know that there have been extensive threads on why LA Ballet has not succeeded, but the concept of a West Coast Golden Age is too tempting to dismiss out of hand.

If not LA, what about San Diego? Capistrano? Little Carmel?

To ridiculously further the analogy: what we have now is a pair of earrings...in a few years a NW bracelet...if Orange County ever gets its act together...a necklace!

And when the day finally arrives, they could all perform Balanchine's "Jewels" on the same night!

From his castle on a cloud,


Link to comment

Whether it's a Golden Age or not may be too early, but I definitely think the West Coast is coming into its own as a major force in American ballet. The sheer number of performances -- people want to live there, and "people" includes dancers, and dancers have to dance....

West Coasters, strut your stuff! Is there a ballet boom where you live?

Link to comment

The closest we have to a ballet "boom" in LA is that the Dorothy Chandler has more "room" now that Disney Concert Hall has arrived. It seems that the Dorothy Chandler is getting more ballet companies to tour at their venue this year (let's hope the trend continues). OCPAC is also doing well with attracting more ballet companies. In my humble opinion, the Kodak is by far a better venue for ballet, and they do have some, but they certainly don't have sell outs (unfortunately). As far as a real live LA Professional Company, I doubt it, now with money for the arts as it is in this economy. Some of the regional companies are having a tough time of it, due to financial constraints. If John Clifford is working on another LA Classical type company, I have yet to hear of it. I'll do some asking around.

Link to comment

Actually...it just struck me as I was responding to a query on the OBT thread... that James Canfield would be perfect for LA. Sexy (overly), Pop-oriented (again overly) but with a rock solid respect for classical technique. See Martha Ullman West's insightful article on the OBT threads. It's a match made in LA-LA land.

Seriously: he would pack a Tinsel Town venue with his edgy eardrum-splitting style.

Not sure I'd include it in the glittering necklace I'm trying to sell here...

May have to settle for the bracelet and a pierced eyebrow, huh?

Falling into the moat,


Link to comment

Nice try plieades... but can't think of a more unlikely match...though I could be wildly wrong...

You have, however, forced me to quote your statement

Los Angeles needs a ballet company

and there upon ponder: Does it?

I suppose that's why I'm so taken with the Canfield idea: he doesn't really fit anywhere and from what I've seen & heard, neither does LA!

Wasn't it the locale of which it was said: "There's no there there."

Forsyth might last two years, but Canfield would rock on as long as they make movies for teenagers.

Youth will be served.

Climbing out of the moat,


Link to comment

The only argument I would make is a sociological one -- I can't imagine that status conscious LA would accept an artistic director who came from, horrors, Oregon, whereas William Forsythe would have the edgy stature that LA craves as well as the artistic chops/creds to reassure the old guard.

I think that LA is heading towards a place where it could support and nourish the right kind of company, especially with the additional slots open at the Music Center. The fact that they've been able to put together an extremely ambitious first season of visiting companies is something that simply wouldn't have happened even five years ago.

Link to comment

Yes, I am quite intrigued that LA audiences are supporting the touring companies...if the support has built up and a truly appreciative audience is being developed then perhaps a good company could thrive. With the right AD and a lot of money. That is my fondest wish (as I promote my WCGA Fantasy). And god knows any one of several dozen LA gazillionaires sweat the budget of a mid-size ballet company everytime they bend over to tie their shoes. (Just heard that Uma Thurman's contract with Lacombe was 14 million)

Maybe I'm wrong, but I think the demands Forsythe places on an audience might be too much for LA. Yes, he has the status and the rep and the chops...but when they have to sit through more than one season of his peculiar style, will they continue to buy tickets?

And yes, you're right, the tree huggers of Oregon are a far flung world away from the Big Restaurant where people eat people for lunch.

But Canfield has nearly perfected something called "Rock Ballet".

Think about that and get ready to hold your lighter up in the dark!

From the parapet,


Link to comment

Leigh, I believe the statute of limitations is six years on that sort of thing in most states.

But since Los Angeles is it's own seperate State of Mind, wherein the art of The Shaft has has been raised to Olympian heights, I think it's only six months.

Back in his ivory tower,


(Major Mel: I'm running out of parts of the castle to sign off from. Please help!)

Link to comment

This isn't specifically about ballet, but someone mentioned Disney Hall, which reminded me -- the smaller venue there (not the music space) is going to be programmed by Mark Murphy, who for several years was the artistic director of On the Boards here in Seattle. They have had a very strong contemporary dance program, in part due to his choices, and I imagine that could easily repeat itself in LA. In the end, it all goes towards a more dance literate audience.

Link to comment

From today's Links, an interview with Christopher Stowell:

The program also signals Stowell's ambitious plan to link OBT with the leading ballet companies of the Northwest. Two West Coast ballets are on the program: "Duo Fantasy," a work by Stowell's father, Kent Stowell, co-artistic director of the Seattle-based Pacific Northwest Ballet; and "Twilight," by Helgi Tomasson, artistic director of San Francisco Ballet, where Stowell enjoyed a lauded 16-year dancing career.

That Stowell is actually trying to get the ballet audience to think in terms of OBT's relationship to PNB & SFB can only be for the best. Who gains the most from this? OBT's clasically-starved audience.

From his jeweler's bench in the northwest tower,


Link to comment

I'm in tears as I read about all the ballet companies that people want to send to LA. :D Why oh why can't we get a great Classical company? I think the gazillionaires are too busy planning their parties (so they can get movie contracts) and so they have no time or money to spend on a good ballet company to give LA a good cultural shot in the arm. As far as John Clifford goes, people here (especially dancers) are incredibly forgiving; so who knows -- it COULD happen. :P

Link to comment
From his castle on a cloud..

Falling into the moat..

Climbing out of the moat...

From the parapet...

Back in his ivory tower...

(Major Mel: I'm running out of parts of the castle to sign off from. Please help!)

Awaiting Philistines...

From his jeweler's bench in the northwest tower...

LOL, How I love this place. :bouncing:

Link to comment

Hi all, new poster here. As far as ballet being supported in Los Angeles, ABT will not do their nutty there this December, after two years at the Kodak they are only going in to OCPAC this year they could not fill the Kodak last year. San Francisco ballet (the first of the ballet season at the Dorothy Chandlier) was poorly attended to say the least. 200 at the Sunday Matinee! they gave away many seats to opening night and Saturday night (when I attended) it still was not full. Ballet is alive and well in neighboring Orange County, but is still shakey in tinseltown.

The Kirov also gave away tickets to opening night at the Kodak. The Dorothy Chandlier has a first class line-up coming in over the next 6-8 months..........we can hope the response is better than what San Francisco ballet got.

I would agree with the poster above that the Kodak is a very good venue for dance.

Link to comment

Welcome, Memo -- thanks for posting that. Why there isn't a big, classical company in L.A. is one of the great conundrums. Lots of money there, surely ("not enough rich people to form a donor/audience base" is the usual culprit). There should be a great after-DeMille classical company to do Humongous Spectacles, and a great after-Film Noire contemporary company to save our souls from Spectacles, and yet there is neither.

As you point out, though, there is a lot of ballet in Orange County (we have other Orangeans here) and I hope you'll post about what you see -- and join in our other discussions as well.

Link to comment

I tend to get very quiet when this subject of great professional dance in Los Angeles area comes up....again and again and again...... :) l have lived here all my life and seen many attempts come and go. :giveup: I give thanks for any visits we receive from traveling troupes these days. It did not surprise me that the Dorothy Chandler Pavillion in LA was not filled when SFB showed up with a terrific rep. It has repeatedly failed to bring ballet companies the audience they well deserved in recent times. Downtown LA is no longer the cultural center any more....maybe the new and awesome Disney Hall up the street will change all of this. It is an amazing feat of architecture. Time will tell. And it will be interesting to watch how the dance season does this year at the LA Music Center. SFB does well in Orange County, but they cannot always book there. It could be scheduling or the decision of the OCPAC to vary its guesting season. Not sure.

The best audience for dance, in my opinion, is based at the Orange County Performing Arts Center. They have a strong committment to dance. The Kirov is here this week and it is almost sold out for a week of performances. There is a wonderful base of support at OCPAC. LA has never been a great supporter of dance, ballet in particular. There have been many attempts, the Joffrey situation comes to mind immediately. It is really a movie and music business town. Maybe if a dance co. brought together these elements with the help of these other two industries something would click. LA is spread out in large geographical areas with no one dominate cultural hub. I hear that ABT is still trying to land a regular schedule out here and even build a satalite school in the region. But these conversations are always ongoing with quiet hope and anticipation.

Soon OCPAC will finish a new home for its Orchestra which will free up even more time in its main theatre....I assume this will bring in more opportunity for visits by outside dance groups in the near future. As far as the local OC dance scene, Ballet Pacifica continues to build a nice repertory and following as well. However, OCPAC seems more interested in booking bigger name companies with national and international status rather than supporting local talent.

I have never been to the Kodak. But friends have told me that it was built primarily for the Oscars.............it is in the middle of Hollywood B) So I will continue to be optimistic for a future ballet and/or modern company here of worthy stature. But am not holding my breath :green: or I might look like this green guy :lol: Our BD has mentioned her desire for a great company to emerge in LA as she would love to come 'home' to dance eventually if the opportunity arose.

And so it goes............... :shrug: :( :angry: :pinch: .......... :yawn:

Link to comment

There was an article in the second to last dance magazine. I think it was page 17, but was if not the first article one of the first. It was entitled Dance in Los Angles. In one of the last paragraphs there was a quote from Mark Murphey a guy who works in the arts in San Diego, he expressed an interest in working with OBT PNB and SFB. It was the first time I have ever seen the 3 names togeather in that sense.

It seems to me that their next "move" would be San Diego...

It sounds like most people are finding these partnerships a good change...I dont know if I like it so much. Dont get me wrong, I would love to see nice dance in the LA area.


Link to comment

Growing up in LA, I understand the dilemma. I do have a suggestion though, if anybody knows a famous person, which would stand up for the cause, I think it ballet could make a go of it.

Link to comment

It's always "fun" to revisit old threads like this one in light of subsequent events. Since 2003, two of the most prominent companies to form in LA have been Benjamin Millepied's LA Dance Project (LADP) and Thordal Christensen and Colleen Neary's Los Angeles Ballet (LAB). I took a look in GuideStar and, for 2014 (the most recent year for which form 990 was available for both companies), LADP had revenues of $2.3 million while LAB had revenues of $3 million. LADP's achievement would appear to be the greater given that it is 5 years younger than LAB.


I've always wondered what the result would be if ABT, like the Dodgers before them, moved to Southern California and set up shop on a permanent basis . . .

Edited by miliosr
Link to comment
14 minutes ago, miliosr said:

I've always wondered what the result would be if ABT, like the Dodgers before them, moved to Southern California and set up shop on a permanent basis . . .


A fun topic to speculate about!  I'm not so sanguine about their chances though -- what do you think would happen?

Link to comment

As far as patrons go:  Despite an insane amount of wealth, I don't think there is really a strong sense of civic responsibility in LA. Perhaps it's because so many people have come from somewhere else. Eli Broad is obviously an exception. Orange County is another story. It's history isn't long, so many of the families who built it up out of ranches, orange groves and farms are still around and tend to be the biggest donors. I don't know if either place has both the big donors and enough of an audience to fill the seats. I'm hoping Segerstrom's dismal dance programming for next year isn't a reflection of the interest in classical ballet in Orange County. 

Link to comment
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...