Neoclassical ballet

Westside Ballet celebrates its return to the stage in “New Horizons”

SANTA MONICA, Calif. — After two challenging years for the arts, Santa Monica’s Westside Ballet will present “New Horizons,” a neoclassical and contemporary piece featuring guest performances by Broadway ballerina Lyrica Woodruff and Maté Szentes. The Mother’s Day weekend performances will be the company’s first return to the wide stage since 2019.

For Woodruff, who grew up on the Westside and studied at Westside Ballet in Santa Monica, it’s the perfect homecoming.

“It’s such a gift to be able to come back to Santa Monica and play on my stage,” Woodruff told Patch. “The pandemic has been difficult for everyone, but especially for us performers. To be able to present my first performance on a stage in my hometown with my home studio is surreal and very special.”

Hungarian-born Woodruff and Szentes will perform Balanchine’s signature Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux whole. The performance company’s weekend events pay homage to the life-renewing qualities of spring with a demonstration of how the world of ballet re-emerges with resilience: experiencing artistic growth and a renewed energy, blossoming creatively with new visions, ideas and experiences.

“The arts have been extremely hard hit by the pandemic,” Woodruff told Patch. “We took classes in our kitchens and our living rooms. We couldn’t share the gift of storytelling with others the way we love it.”

Lyrica Woodruff and Maté Szentes rehearse for Santa Monica’s Westside Ballet’s “New Horizons,” which opens May 7. (Courtesy of Todd Lechtick)

“The beauty of art is the ability for people to come together and experience something so magical and intimate for a fleeting moment,” she added. “And that experience can shape and inspire people for years to come. Art connects us. One performance can impact a lifetime. Nothing can ever replace the thrill of live theatre, and there is no There’s no better place to start than with your direct community.”

The company successfully weathered the pandemic by launching a crisis relief campaign, “1500 Angels”, which raised $214,000 to help the organization survive.

Now the group is moving forward with their spring performances, which will feature varied works from the most classic choreographers and composers to an original contemporary piece with a commissioned score.

“Great traditions never fade, but as audiences for ballet evolve, so too does the art form coveted around the world for hundreds of years,” said Martine Harley, Artistic Director of the Westside Ballet of Santa Monica since 2013.

Westside Ballet’s biannual productions are made possible in part by grants from the County of Los Angeles, the City of Santa Monica, the Pacific Palisades Woman’s Club – and sponsorships from individuals, businesses and local organizations from Santa Monica such as the Santa Monica College Public Policy Institute, The Huntley Hotel, Lyft Scooters, Urth Caffe, Morley Builders and more.

The show times are as follows:

  • Saturday, May 7, 2022, 6 p.m.: “A Petite Soirée” Reception and Awards, followed by “New Horizons” at 7:30 p.m. with special performances at The Broad Stage at the Santa Monica College Performing Arts Center, 1310 11th St, Santa Monica.
  • Sunday May 8, 2022, 2 p.m.: “New Horizons” spring show. Both at the Broad Stage of the Santa Monica College Performing Arts Center, 1310 11th St, Santa Monica.

Sunday tickets are $45. The reception and special Saturday show “A Little Night Out” is $75. Tickets can be bought online or by phone (additional charges apply) at (800) 595-4849 (4TIX).

Several security measures will be in place during the performance and are subject to change, organizers told Patch. All spectators will be required to show proof of vaccination or, if not vaccinated, proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken no later than 48 hours before the performance. All spectators, regardless of their vaccination status, are required to wear masks at all times inside the theater.

The Westside Ballet of Santa Monica is one of the nation’s leading pre-professional ballet training companies. The non-profit organization’s mission is to provide promising young dancers with the performance opportunities essential to their development and to make dance more accessible to local children and families.

Westside Ballet of Santa Monica was established by Yvonne Mounsey (New York City Ballet) and Rosemary Valaire (Royal Ballet) in 1973. Westside Alumna Martine Harley (Houston Ballet) took over as Artistic Director in 2013. The company is based in Santa Monica and includes around 70 dancers, aged 8 to 18.

Visit the website for more information.