Diablo Ballet’s Lecture Series is Perfectly to the Pointe

Written by Jennifer Seelig. Posted in Art + Entertainment

Black Swan wasn't just a critical and commercial success at the box office - it was a film that renewed and inspired interest and appreciation for the art of dance.  That's exactly why the award-winning Diablo Ballet is taking us behind the curtain for an intriguing lecture series at our local libraries.  Read on to find out what you'll learn, when you step Inside the Dancer's Life.

 Diablo Ballet's Prima Ballerina youth program. Photo courtesy of Diablo Ballet

If the box office receipts are any indication, 2010’s Black Swan captivated audiences like few movies have in recent years.  And, it wasn’t just the thriller storyline that had moviegoers on the edge of their seats – the film reminded us of the power, beauty, grace and athleticism of an art form that deserves a prominent place in our community.

In fact, ballet is firmly ensconced within the community.  The award-winning Diablo Ballet has been captivating audiences of its own with powerful and artistic performances for nearly twenty years.  And now, recognizing the renewed interest in ballet – because of Black Swan’s critical and commercial success – Diablo Ballet is taking us behind the curtain, for an intriguing lecture series at the Orinda, Moraga and San Ramon libraries.

Read on to find out why you don’t want to miss: Black Swan and Beyond.

Inside the Dancer’s Life

Even with the very best seats in the house, you can only get so close to a dancer during a ballet performance.  But that all changes with Diablo Ballet’s Inside the Dancer’s Life series, happening February 15 at the Orinda Library, April 5 at the Moraga Library, and April 11 at the San Ramon Library.

“It’s an evening when we invite people to come and meet our dancers and really find out what it takes to be in this demanding business, what it takes to be a professional dancer,” summed up Dan Meagher, Director of Marketing for Diablo Ballet.

“What is it like to live this kind of life?  Being a part of a professional dance company requires not only years of training but the type of lifestyle where you may have a residence in Walnut Creek, but then you are flown out to Reno, Nevada and then onto somewhere else,” he continued.  “It’s a very demanding, complex lifestyle and that’s what this lecture series is about, to explain what it takes to be in this business.”

The dancers, said Meagher, are ready to talk myth versus reality.

“Audiences are absolutely fascinated by the movie Black Swan and our dancers are more than happy to share their thoughts about it.”

Ballet:  An International Art Form

Three dancers will take part in the February 15 lecture at the Orinda Library, and just by virtue of their presence, audiences will be reminded that ballet knows no borders.

“Diablo Ballet has such an international flavor, we’re proud to have dancers from all over the world.  And that means our lecture series will offer some perspective on how dance is perceived around the world,” reasoned Meagher.

Mayo Sugano (Japan), Erika Johnson (Marin County) and Rosselyn Ramirez (Venezuela) will be the “lecturing ballerinas” at the Orinda Library.

“I would love to have not only dance fans at the lectures, but I would just love to have people who are simply intrigued by the idea of dance and ballet,” Meagher assured anyone who was on the fence about attending.  “You don’t have to have season tickets to the ballet to come and here this talk.  What we’re talking about is the people who do the dancing.”

After all, he pointed out, they’re really not all that different from the rest of us.

“These are people who get up every day like you and I do, they have bills to pay, just like we do,” he stressed the “ordinary” things even professional dancers do. 

Talking – and Inspiring

Meagher stressed that all ages were welcome at the lectures – recognizing the abundance of prima ballerinas in the community.

“We have a lot of younger followers,” he proudly declared.  “This area is so artistically rich and it’s wonderful to see children immersed in the arts at a very early age.”

Diablo Ballet is doing its part to inspire the youngest of twinkle toes, with its Prima Ballerina youth program.

“It’s so important to expose children to the arts.  Studies show that exposure to the arts at an early age increases intellectual capacity and all of the skills that go hand in hand with the arts, coordination, physical skills, reasoning skills, cognitive skills, so many things that we do on a daily basis,” Meagher said.  “It helps them develop not just as an artist, but as a person.”

Of course, Meagher is all too aware that the arts tend to be whittled down if not outright eliminated in tough financial times.

“It’s the sad reality in our world today,” he acknowledged.

He tips his hat to the parents who are in a position to seek out artistic avenues for their children, and proudly reminds the community of Diablo Ballet’s PEEK program, which brings arts education to thousands of elementary school students in underserved Contra Costa schools “adopted” by the dance company.

Join Diablo Ballet for its Black Swan and Beyond lecture series: 
Feb. 15 at 6:30 p.m., Orinda Library.
April 5 at 6:30 p.m., Moraga Library
April 11 at 6:30 p.m., San Ramon Library

The award-winning Diablo Ballet was founded in 1993 to enrich, inspire, enlighten and educate children and adults through the art of dance.  The company proudly selects more than a half-dozen international dancers for its performances, educational and outreach projects and productions on tour.  (925) 943-1775.  diabloballet.org 

Photo courtesy of Diablo Ballet.