by Karin K. Jensen - Alameda Sun
December, 2008 - By combining both young and more experienced dancers with world-class professionals such as from San Francisco's LINES Ballet Company and San Francisco Opera Ballet, Alameda Civic Ballet (ACB) provides both inspiration and performing opportunities to young dancers, while providing quality, affordable performances to the community. For this year's production of The Nutcracker, ACB is pleased to welcome an impressive roster of world class dancers, including one who grew up in Alameda.
Daniel Escudero started dancing locally at the Alameda School of Dance at the age of seven. After various summer intensives throughout the US and Canada, Daniel decided that what he wanted most was to be a professional dancer. So at age twelve, he joined San Francisco Ballet School and went on to the School of American Ballet in New York. During his professional career, he has danced with numerous companies including San Francisco Ballet and Kim Robards Dance, with whom he performed at an Olympic venue in Beijing. For ACB's Nutcracker, he is dancing the role of the Snow King. "It's an extraordinary feeling to be part of something so close to home again. Alameda has grown so much since I was a child, and so has Alameda Civic Ballet."
ACB was founded in 2003 by Alameda resident Abra Rudisill, formerly a Principal Dancer and Rehearsal Director for Oakland Ballet for most of her career. Rudisill explains what it takes to find and hire the level of talent that appears with ACB's students. "Finding guest artists for Nutcracker in the Bay Area is difficult because there are so many competing Nutcrackers in a small area at about the same time. It is especially difficult to find male dancers because the demand is greater than the supply. The process has to begin in January directly after the previous year's Nutcracker with phone calls and emails of projected schedules and monetary offers to every dancer or director I know."
"The most frustrating part is when you hire someone, and they get injured between September and November because by then everyone has been booked. This has happened to me several times. However, there must be a Ballet Fairy looking over me because I have always found someone extroardinary as a replacement. That is how I came to hire Meredith Webster of Alonzo King's LINES Ballet of San Francisco who is dancing as our Sugar Plum Fairy for a second year. An injured dancer that I had hired for last year's production felt so badly, she set out to find a replacement and introduced me to Meredith."
"Meredith in turn introduced me to Corey Scott-Gilbert, also of LINES Ballet and previously of Lyon Opera Ballet in France. Corey will be dancing as our Sugar Plum Cavalier. I watched them both in class last year before hiring them and was really astounded by the way they move. I think they are going to make a very dynamic partnership and bring unique qualities to their roles."
Meredith Webster explains what she enjoys about working with ACB, "It is great to be a part of a production that is such a community effort. Abra is working incredibly hard, but a show of this size and caliber cannot be done without the involvement of many people. Everyone from preschool to grandma to professional is represented on stage and behind the scenes, and is coming together with joy and generosity to make it happen. That is exactly what the holidays are about!"
Another professional appearing with ACB this year is Jamielyn Duggan, who plays the Snow Queen. Jamielyn trained on full scholarship for eight years at San Francisco Ballet School and has also trained at the San Francisco Dance Center with LINES Ballet and various summer intensives. As a freelance dancer, she has performed with numerous companies including Les Grandes Ballet Canadiens de Montreal and San Diego Opera Ballet. She is currently a resident member of the San Francisco Opera Ballet. This is Duggan's second performance with ACB.
Rudisill explains the value of these professionals to her students, "Dance is an art form created for presentation before an audience. Participating in The Nutcracker is an important part of the performing arts education that we strive to teach our students, and we hope it will serve them well throughout their lives. It is an opportunity to work with professionals through the process of warming up, rehearsing, and performing together. I really enjoy seeing our students using this inspiration to explore their own individuality as artists. By planting these seeds, our entire organization, including parents, staff, and volunteers, hope to ensure a garden of arts for the future."
This will be ACB's fourth year presenting The Nutcracke before nearly sold out audiences. Each year audience members have commented on the professionalism and quality of the production. This year's production will be presented at Alameda's Kofman Theater on Saturday, December 20th at 7PM and on Sunday, December 21st at 2PM.