The Los Angeles Ballet (LAB) has just announced a Gala performance in honor of its 15th Anniversary as LA’s leading professional ballet company on Saturday, May 1, 2021 at 7 p.m. PDT. Founded in 2004 by Artistic Director Thordal Christensen and Colleen Neary, LAB has earned recognition throughout the country and beyond for its excellent stagings of works by the iconic choreographer George Balanchine, other classical ballets, and its commitment to producing new works. One goal of the Gala is to help recover funds lost by the cancellation of several of LAB’s performances which included its holiday favorite The Nutcracker; performances canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

In addition to a delicious dinner provided by Crustacean of Beverly Hills, the Gala will feature excerpts from the best of LAB’s performances with special guest presenters Paula Abdul, Robert Davi, Siedah Garrett, Harry Lennix, Nigel Lythgoe, Neal McDonough, Kenny Ortega, Joe Pantoliano, Jane Seymour and Adam Shankman, directed by Ryan Parma. The evening’s co-chairs are Leslie Kavanaugh, Lori Milken and Kirsten Sarkisian.

Petra Conti & Kenta Shimizu in Swan Lake - Photo: Reed Hutchinson

Petra Conti & Kenta Shimizu in Swan Lake – Photo: Reed Hutchinson

“As our stages, as well as those of our fellow arts organizations, have been dark this past year, we want to celebrate dance and honor the fifteen years of Los Angeles Ballet,” said Thordal Christensen and Colleen Neary, artistic directors of Los Angeles Ballet.  “We know that the arts bring people together in both happy and hard times, and we look forward to when our dancers are able to share their talents with the Los Angeles audiences that have embraced and supported us for fifteen years, but most notably this past year.”

LAB’s mission is to provide evenings of superlative choreography, dance and performance and to share these via its diverse arts education outreach programs. During these trying times, the company has managed to continue expanding its audience through LAB’s A Chance to Dance program which offers free virtual classes to audiences of all ages throughout the world. Looking ahead, LAB will continue to provide free tickets to thousands of special needs children and adults, military families, veterans, seniors and others via its Power of Performance (POP) program which partners with at least 50 social service community organizations.

Allynne Noelle & Ulirk Birkkjær in Agon - Photo: Reed Hutchinson

Allynne Noelle & Ulirk Birkkjær in Agon – Photo: Reed Hutchinson

About LAB’s Founders

Among Thordal Christensen’s many credentials are an impressive performing career, successful leadership of one of the world’s major ballet companies, critically applauded original choreography, and a proven commitment to dance education.  Born in Copenhagen, Denmark, Christensen received his ballet training at The Royal Danish Ballet School and at the School of American Ballet in New York City before a performance career that included the Royal Danish Ballet, New York City Ballet, and Pacific Northwest Ballet. Christensen then returned to Denmark where he was Artistic Director of the Royal Danish Ballet. This blend of Bournonville and Balanchine tradition is one of the defining themes of his career, and has shaped the unique artistic vision that Christensen, along with his wife Colleen Neary, bring to Los Angeles Ballet. In 2002, he was made Knight of the Dannebrog by Queen Margrethe II of Denmark.

Colleen Neary brings to Los Angeles Ballet the benefits of her vast experience as one of George Balanchine’s quintessential ballerinas. In her experience as a dancer, teacher, and ballet mistress, she also worked closely with other luminaries of 20th century dance, including Rudolf Nureyev, Maurice Béjart, and Jiří Kylián. Born in Miami, Florida and trained at The School of American Ballet, Neary danced in New York City Ballet under the direction of George Balanchine, then for Maurice Béjart’s Ballet du XXième Siecle, and Pacific Northwest Ballet. Neary was personally selected by Balanchine to teach his choreography to major companies all over the world as a répétiteur for The George Balanchine Trust.

What: Los Angeles Ballet Gala Celebrating 15 Years of Outstanding Performances.

Where: Online (Link will be provided with ticket purchase.)

When: May 1, 2021 at 7:00 p.m. PDT

For additional Gala information and to purchase tickets, click HERE.

For more information on the Los Angeles Ballet, please visit its website HERE.

By Jeff Slayton for LA Dance Chronicle.

Featured image: Julia Cinquemani & Christopher McDaniel in Sechs Tänze – Photo: Reed Hutchinson