Los Angeles Ballet debuted in December 2006 with its original production of The Nutcracker. Choreographed by Founding Co-Artistic Directors Thordal Christensen and Colleen Neary, it features costumes from a Royal Danish Ballet production commissioned by Mr. Christensen during his tenure as that company’s artistic director, complemented by a Southern California-themed set designed by Catherine Kanner.
LAB’s repertoire focuses on works and styles intimately known to, and mastered by, the artistic directors: Balanchine masterpieces as staged by Colleen Neary, and the revered Bournonville ballets as imparted by Thordal Christensen. As a répétiteur for The George Balanchine Trust, Ms. Neary is one of the rarified few charged with carrying on the Balanchine legacy and genius. Balanchine’s mentorship of Colleen as a young dancer and as a répétiteur results in LAB’s stellar interpretation of his masterworks. In 2009 LAB presented Bournonville’s La Sylphide, its first full-length classical story ballet after The Nutcracker.
In addition to performing the beloved classical ballet standards such as Giselle, Swan Lake, Don Quixote, Romeo and Juliet, and The Sleeping Beauty, Los Angeles Ballet has commissioned 15 new works, one developed out of LAB’s Choreographic Workshop. The purpose of the workshop is to identify and nurture Southern Californian choreographic talent.
The Los Angeles Ballet Center, the home of both Los Angeles Ballet and the Los Angeles Ballet School, is located on LA’s Westside. The Center’s 12,000 square feet encompass three dance studios, LAB’s administrative offices, ‘home’ box office, physical therapy clinic, wardrobe department and costume storage.
A key component of Los Angeles Ballet’s mission is to ‘tour’ Los Angeles. While rehearsals take place at the Los Angeles Ballet Center, LAB regularly performs across the County at five, rotated venues, including Royce Hall UCLA, Alex Theatre in Glendale, Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center, Valley Performing Arts Center in Northridge, and the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood.
In September 2009, Los Angeles Ballet Guild was established to support the mission of Los Angeles Ballet and provide the assistance to organize a volunteer workforce for performances and special events. The Guild has become an indispensable arm of the LAB support structure. Patron Ladies of the Guild was formed in 2013; its mission is to provide vital support and advocacy for Los Angeles Ballet.
LAB’s Power of Performance! (POP!) outreach program has provided thousands of free tickets to underserved and disadvantaged children, veterans, seniors, and their families, through collaboration with community partners.
An additional LAB outreach program, A Chance to Dance, offers a monthly Community Day at the Los Angeles Ballet Center, where all ages are invited to take free ballet, jazz, and other dance classes and workshops, and to learn about fitness and nutrition from company dancers, staff and physical therapists. A Chance to Dance Community Day attracts over 100 participants to each event, and fosters the development of a personal relationship between the artists of Los Angeles Ballet and the greater LA County community.
Artistic Directors Thordal Christensen and Colleen Neary, who have shared a partnership both privately and professionally since 1985, blend their unique artistic and aesthetic views into a co-directorship that is multifaceted and complete. Combined with the executive leadership of Julie Whittaker, the company has thrived. The three founders credit a passionate and able Board of Directors that provides immeasurable support, professional skills, guidance, and advocacy.