Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

Full Circle: From Ballet to Marketing and Back

Westside Ballet’s Weekend Adult Showcase is a celebration of ballet as an art form that can be enjoyed at any age and level.

Perris McCracken has always loved dancing. She started her training at a young age, studying ballet, jazz, African, modern, and tap at various schools in Los Angeles. She performed with renowned companies and artists, such as Debbie Allen, City Ballet of Los Angeles, and Lula Washington Dance Theatre. She earned a degree in Fine Arts from Loyola Marymount University and worked as a dance instructor for many years.

But life took her on a different path. She explored other careers, such as marketing and commercial real estate. She moved away from the stage and the studio, focusing on other aspects of her life.

However, she never lost her passion for dance. And when she heard about Westside School of Ballet's Adult Showcase, she decided to return to her roots and join the performance.

"I've always wanted to perform again," McCracken says. "When I saw the flyer for the showcase, I thought it was a perfect opportunity to reconnect with ballet and challenge myself."

McCracken is no stranger to Westside Ballet. She studied there as an adolescent under the direction of co-founder Rosemary Valaire. She says that Westside Ballet was a very special place for her, where she learned from excellent teachers and made lifelong friends.

"Technically, I am a returning Westside Ballet student," McCracken says. "My teacher Rosemary was a very elegant, sophisticated and warm person. She made me feel seen. I remember Rosemary asked me to demonstrate a penche during class in Studio 5. That really boosted my confidence from that day forward."

McCracken says that she treasured the childhood memories of performances, summer camps and fun sleepovers with the friends she made at Westside Ballet. She also says that her older sister trained with Yvonne Mounsey—Westside Ballet’s co-founder with Valaire.

"So Westside is very special to me," McCracken says. "It's a full circle moment in my life."

Westside School of Ballet, one of the premier ballet schools in Southern California, recently announced the presentation of their Adult Showcase 2023, a unique performance featuring the school’s talented and inspiring adult students and faculty. The showcase takes place on Saturday, August 5th, at 1pm and 3pm at New Roads School’s Moss Theatre.

The Showcase is directed, staged and choreographed by Westside's esteemed faculty and adult dance community: Nilas Martins, James Ady, Chasen Greenwood, Sadie Black, Dani Savka, Erin Rivera-Brennand, Sven Toorvald, Natalia Velarde, Liz Wasynczuk, Helen Bouboulis and Mary Jo Frazier. The showcase will feature a variety of ballet styles and genres, from classical to contemporary, showcasing the diversity and creativity of the adult ballet community.

"Ballet is not just for kids or professionals. It is for everyone who loves to move, express themselves and challenge themselves. Ballet can help you improve your posture, balance, strength, flexibility and coordination. It can also help you reduce stress, boost your mood, enhance your creativity and connect with others who share your passion. Ballet is a lifelong journey that can enrich your life in so many ways," says Chasen Greenwood, one of Westside Ballet’s adult faculty members and choreographers of the showcase.

McCracken agrees with Greenwood's sentiment. She says that ballet has helped her cope with the challenges of the pandemic and find balance in her life.

"Ballet has been a source of joy and healing for me through these difficult times," she says. "It has given me a sense of purpose and accomplishment. It has also helped me stay fit and healthy."

McCracken enrolled in Westside Ballet's adult classes in 2016.

"Westside Ballet has an amazing adult program that caters to all levels of experience and ability," she says. "The teachers are very knowledgeable and encouraging. They challenge you but also respect your limits. The students are very friendly and supportive. They motivate you but also make it fun for you."

McCracken says that she enjoys learning from different teachers and styles at Westside Ballet. She says that each class offers something new and exciting.

"I love the variety of classes at Westside Ballet," she says. "You can learn classical ballet from Nilas Martins or James Ady, who have danced with New York City Ballet or American Ballet Theatre. You can learn contemporary ballet from Chasen Greenwood or Sadie Black, who have created their own original pieces. You can also learn from other adult dancers who have choreographed for the showcase."

McCracken is one of the featured dancers in the showcase. She will perform as a soloist in two pieces: "Zenobia" and "Margot + Edith".

"Zenobia" is a contemporary ballet piece choreographed by Chasen Greenwood to music from Avatar by Simon Franglen and an original piece by Taylor Briggs. It is inspired by the story of Zenobia, a third-century queen of Palmyra who rebelled against the Roman Empire.

"Zenobia is a powerful and courageous character who defied the norms of her time," McCracken says. "She was a warrior and a leader, and I enjoyed learning about her history and portraying the spirit of her mythology.”

"Margot + Edith" is another contemporary ballet piece, choreographed and danced by Mary Jo Frazier, with McCracken as her partner. It is directed by Sadie Black to music by John Williams, the "Schindler’s List Theme". It is based on both women’s recently departed relatives who greatly inspired their lives.

McCracken says that she feels grateful and excited to be part of the showcase. She says that it is a treasure for her to dance again on stage. "I can't wait to share my love of ballet with the audience," she says. "I hope that they will enjoy the showcase as much as we have enjoyed creating it. I also hope that they will be inspired by our stories and see that ballet is for everyone."

Westside’s Adult Showcase 2023 will feature a varied repertoire of ballet pieces, ranging from classical to contemporary, from romantic to epic, from lyrical to dramatic. Some of the highlights include:

• Scenes from Giselle with actress and classically trained Dani Savka as Giselle. Staged by James Ady (formerly with Pennsylvania Ballet and American Ballet Theatre) and danced by Westside's intermediate and beginning level adult students.

• Adult dancer & artist Evan King will perform Siegfried Solo Variation from Swan Lake Act I, staged by Nilas Martins, former principal dancer with New York City Ballet.

• Various Featured Works: A showcase of choreography by Westside's faculty and adult dance community, featuring contemporary ballet pieces that explore themes such as identity, emotion, connection, and expression. Choreographed by Chasen Greenwood, Sadie Black, Dani Savka, Erin Rivera-Brennand, Sven Toorvald, Natalia Velarde, Liz Wasynczuk, Helen Bouboulis and Mary Jo Frazier, and danced by Westside's beginner to advanced adult students.

“Don't miss this wonderful opportunity to support Westside Ballet and enjoy a wonderful afternoon of dance!” shared Westside Ballet on Instagram.

For more information about Westside School of Ballet and its adult ballet program, visit or Instagram @westsideballet_. Adult Ballet Showcase Tickets are $25 and are available at Westside Ballet's front desk, 1709 Stewart Street, Santa Monica, CA 90404. Or phone 310-828-2018.


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