Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

Dance Talks Reveals Life Lessons of Classical Ballet Training at Westside School of Ballet

Accredited College Panel presents Dance Degree Options Friday September 6th, featuring USC, UC Santa Barbara, University of Arizona, Cal State Long Beach

The experience of training in classical ballet often has a profound and lasting effect in the lives of dancers, though many ultimately pursue careers outside the dance world.

That's the message behind Westside Ballet's "Dance Talks" series, which has featured a lineup of successful alumnae such as actress Jenna Elfman and Joffrey Ballet's Lucia Connolly, who have spoken to community youth about the positive impact disciplined dance training has had on their lives.

The series has previously included highly esteemed panels from college dance programs, which have gained in sophistication over the past decade. For the 2019 Series, panelists from Cal Arts, USC, UCLA, UCSB, Cal State Long Beach, Cal State Fullerton, the Dominican University in San Francisco, SMC, University of Arizona, and Orange Coast College –will discuss the advantages, options and opportunities offered to college bound dancers. This year's panel was put together by the Parent Volunteer Guild.

Westside Ballet offers this series to the entire dance community to help young aspiring dancers learn inside information needed for a competitive edge. Directors, faculty and graduates of the programs will help Westside Ballet parents and students of all levels learn about the application process, merit scholarship possibilities, and the focus of these various dance majors.

Dr. Ninotchka Bennahum, Professor of Dance, University of California, Santa Barbara, will be one such presenter. Ms. Bennahum holds a Ph.D. in Performance Studies from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts and a B.A. in History and Art History from Swarthmore College. She has written on dance and culture for The Village Voice, The New York Times, Dance Research Journal, The Denver Post, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Albuquerque Journal/ Tribune and Dance Magazine.

The "Dance Talk" series first kicked off in November, 2014, with speaker Jenna Elfman, well-known for her starring role in TV series Dharma and Greg, a former guest judge for So You Think You Can Dance, and currently starring in The Walking Dead. "Dance Talks" speakers include women from all walks of life––a chiropractor, an attorney, a stay-at-home mom, and a professional ballerina or two––all bringing their unique perspective on the influence of dance training in their adult and professional lives.

Allegra Clegg, Westside Ballet Executive Director, says: "We created the Dance Talks series to spread the message about the value of dance and other classical arts, and what that can bring to the community and especially our children."

Clegg, while not slated to speak in the series, certainly could be. The daughter of New York City Ballet legend and Westside Ballet founder Yvonne Mounsey, Clegg grew up in ballet class and performing in Nutcrackers, before eventually going on to become a successful film producer.

Speaking from her own experience, she talks about the ways in which she believes classical arts training impacts kids.

"It gives them discipline, a sense of pride. It teaches them values they don't yet understand but it becomes a part of them, and when they grow up, whether they become a performer, a teacher, a lawyer or a doctor, there is something in them that is different. When they enter that door and go to ballet class it's not just a ballet class--it's a life lesson."

"Dance Talks" will be held on Friday, September 6th, from 6-8pm, at Westside School of Ballet, 1709 Stewart Street Santa Monica, CA 90404. Each college shall introduce their programs, followed by a Q & A with dancer attendees, and finishing with time for all dancers to mill around and meet with each college representative. Urth Cafe is providing light snacks. Participation is free but space is limited and an RSVP is requested. Interested community members should respond to Jewels Solheim-Roe, Community Outreach, at .

About Westside Ballet of Santa Monica - Westside Ballet of Santa Monica, a nonprofit organization, is one of the nation's premier ballet training companies. This pre-professional company was created by Yvonne Mounsey (New York City Ballet) and Rosemary Valaire (Royal Ballet) in 1973. Contact:


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