Regional Dance America

April 22nd, 2014

There have been lots of questions lately about Regional Dance America and why we do it.

RDA is a group of regional dance companies, much like ours, who get together once a year. The dancers take classes together with famous teachers, and perform for each other. They see a myriad of ballet and modern styles, and they can compare themselves with other dancers. They also get seen by company directors (which has led to many jobs for our dancers), and they make contacts with their peers from other parts of the country. There is a large summer scholarship audition program, and a large university dance department audition. These auditions save parents thousands of dollars and students many many school days by being able to audition for lots of things in one shot. There is an emerging choreographer concert, giving a chance to student choreographers. The students have to perform for an adjudicator, giving them valuable feedback, and giving our company and school the most prestigious of accreditations.

I remember walking by an 11 year old student a few years back. This little girl had gone to RDA with her mother on a mother-daughter vacation when she was 7 years old. The had toured the city, and watched performances along with a few classes and seminars. I overheard her say, “I remember when I went to RDA and watched that second night concert. I learned that…”, and proceeded to talk about what how she would apply what she had learned. I was impressed because even this little kid had come away with lessons learned (and thought about them for four years).

The festival is meant to be a tremendous learning experience for our dancers, and it is. But there are also seminars for parents, teachers, observers, costumers, musicians, directors, and board members.

Regional Dance America is well worth the time, money and effort and everyone who has gone loves it. We do RDA because everyone learns.

Working the System

December 10th, 2013

If you work the system, the system works.

This year, I have been asked by many sets of parents how to help their children achieve their dreams of becoming professional ballet dancers. Unfortunately, everyone cannot achieve this dream. There are four things that are necessary:

1. Talent: In the ballet world, talent mostly means genetics, which means the body you were born with. Excellent training can change, improve and maximize some things, but body type needs to be accepted. There are many ways to have a life in dance, but that ballet contract is not always in the cards. Talent also means musicality, stage presence and a sense of artistry.

2. Excellent training: There is a lot of bad ballet out there. There are schools that have showy performances with flashy costumes, but the technique just isn’t there, and the professional companies can tell the difference. If you are at South Bay Ballet, you are fortunate to be at one of those extremely rare places with the track record we have. We enjoy a great reputation for clean technique and strong artistic training.

3. Supportive parents: Since training occurs while the body is growing and capable of change, your kids need your support. Dancers must be in class, must be in rehearsal. They should see ballet whenever possible. They should see good and bad. They should read about dance and dancers. They should be familiar with classical music and music history. They should be well rounded, capable of critical thought and empathy. They should be team players. All dancers need to know that, like athletes everywhere, one can only dance for so long. So every dancer needs to have a “Plan B.” But how wonderful is it to have two complete lives and careers?

4. Intense desire: If you sort of want it, it will never happen. It has to be the most important thing. You have to love to work hard, be resilient to disappointment, enjoy the training and the challenges of the physical demands of ballet. If you doubt it, you don’t really want it.

This last one is where working the system comes in. We at Lauridsen Ballet Centre and South Bay Ballet have worked very hard to have the very best training system. One of the key components is always working also on a level below your own. Another is the number of classes taken. Young children have to be especially careful not to overwork. Dancers trying to be professionals are in competition with dancers all over the world who are in training situations which have them dancing all day, every day. Our system is successfully competitive with those big famous schools, but not if the system is not followed. Three hours a day of really good training can win out over eight hours of usual training. But one class at your top level just won’t cut it. As much as I recognize the demands of homework, which are certainly excessive, I also recognize that there is not a field that one can enter into without meeting the established requirements. Imagine applying to medical school and explaining why you just didn’t have time to take biology. It’s the same thing. Either you make the cut or you don’t. Nobody is saying it is easy, but it certainly is rewarding.

Over the years, we have had many dancers here who have reached the top of the field. All of them did the entire program as it was laid out. We have also had dancers who made their own decisions, trying to pick and choose. They like this teacher, but not that one. They like the advanced class, but not the easier one. They take this correction, but not that one. A few of those more talented dancers even get jobs; however, none have reached their full potential. If you take three months off, don’t expect to be promoted. If you only take the advanced class, you are not building deep strength; you risk spraining your ankle. Classes are like money in the bank: you either invest, or you don’t. So when I say work the system, I mean work it the way it is meant to be worked.

We have so many young, talented dancers. I am so looking forward to watching them grow and develop. There is not much money in what I do. The big reward for me is that last year of training, watching someone reach that end level of blossoming and growth as a finished technician and artist. I look forward to seeing you reach your full potential! Let’s work the system together: I’ll do my job, and you do yours, and let’s see how far we can go together!


November 15th, 2011

Ballet’s origins date back to the majestic era of the 15th century Italian Renaissance Courts. Ballet costumes during this period were made of extravagant cloths with heavy brocades, huge ornaments and head pieces that restricted movement. As a result, during the 18th century, a shorter version of ballet skirts was introduced and caught the attention of ballet critics and audiences alike. Ballerinas donned calf length ballet costumes accompanied by pointed satin shoes making it easier for them to perform. Men on the other hand, wore tights and long sleeved shirts. These shirts were usually covered with shorter jackets. The sleeves of the ballet costumes for men and women were determined upon by the theme of the ballet. As a result, there were various styles of ballet costumes, a tradition that can be seen even today!
South Bay Ballet’s elaborate Nutcracker costumes – from Mother Ginger’s immense skirt that conceals a dozen children underneath to Dream Clara’s multilayered tutu embellished with hundreds of crystals – were created under the original direction of celebrated local set designer, Jenny Tomich. The fanciful costumes were brought to life for the inaugural 2004 performance by many trained hands headed by Diane Padelford, Diane Fresquez and Janelle Ozeran. Each season, most of the costumes receive small makeovers as parts begin to wear and fray; as well as new costumes fashioned for South Bay Ballet’s ever-increasing company of dancers. Measuring, cutting, sewing, ironing, and fitting an array of tutus, vests, jackets, coats and dresses, takes hundreds of hours of work by our faithful volunteers.


November 15th, 2011

What exactly is an understudy? An understudy is one who performs in a smaller role or roles while also training alongside cast members with a lead or feature parts. Understudies often fill a vital job in a production if called upon due to illness, injury or any number of unexpected events rendering a lead dancer unable to perform.
Being cast as an understudy is a privilege. It gives a dancer the opportunity to learn from those more experienced by watching and listening. Understudying is part of the process in developing a higher level of skill and the possibility of growing into a part. It is not however a guarantee the dancer will step in at intermission, should injury strike, or stake claim to the role in the future. Being an understudy is an opportunity for a dancer to improve.
As a member of the audience, you will more often than not ever know who the understudies are for a given production. All of the lead dancers in this year’s Nutcracker have at one time or another been an understudy. While all of the understudies in this year’s Nutcracker have been given the opportunity to hone their craft, even if they never have the chance to perform the role they have understudied.


November 15th, 2011

South Bay Ballet’s Nutcracker provides an exciting opportunity for Lauridsen Ballet Centre students of all ages to perform in a professional atmosphere on stage. For many, it is an experience they will treasure for a lifetime. For others, it is so captivating that performing becomes an integral part of their childhood years. Participation requires a substantial time commitment from both parents and dancers. Being cast a part of the production provides a critical real-world environment of performing which is a key element in any dancer’s experience, knowledge and pre-professional training.
Casting is based on providing a challenge for every dancer while offering a role commensurate with their individual skill level. Every company member is given a part; some more than one, while others still have an opportunity for an understudy position.


August 22nd, 2010

Join the excitement!

South Bay Ballet Artistic Director Diane Lauridsen is pleased to announce programming for the Company’s 2010 – 2011 season with a variety of ballets beginning with The Nutcracker in December, as well as South Bay Ballet’s annual Bravo! concert in March where award-winning choreographers combine with emerging choreography and guest artists with style and engaging artistry honed to perfection. Following the great success of this year’s The Sleeping Beauty, the Company will feature the Storybook Ballet Coppelia, a sentimental tale of mistaken identity and a beautiful life-size doll, in June 2011 with all new costuming.

The proven training program of South Bay Ballet is designed to prepare dancers for a professional performing career. Curriculum features a foundation in traditional classical techniques enhanced by more than thirty years of experience incorporating cutting edge anatomical and kinesthetic principles. Company dancers experience a real company atmosphere and performance opportunities that mirror the professional world. This season’s Senior Company begins work on Saturday, August 28th, and the Junior Company on September 11th.

Join the excitement! Diane Lauridsen continues to seek excellent dancers with the drive to grow and mature as an artist. To arrange an audition, please contact Diane directly at (310) 963-1247.

South Bay Ballet Presents: The Sleeping Beauty

May 24th, 2010

Stunning scenery, dazzling costumes, and many hours of intense rehearsals
are all a part of what makes a ballet extraordinary. You, the audience, will
never know the incomprehensible number of carefully constructed costume
pieces or the precise backstage bustle that combine to ensure that each and
every dancer looks wonderful. You, however, will experience the splendor
and spectacle of such an elaborate show as South Bay Ballet’s The Sleeping Beauty.
Take a closer look at what occurs behind-the-scenes at SBB from Artistic
Director Diane Lauridsen and Wardrobe/Set Designer Janice Munson.

The Production

Q. Diane, when and why did you decide to add this challenging, classic ballet to the Company’s repertory?

It was a goal to complete our repertory of Storybook ballets in 2010. I have always considered The Sleeping Beauty to be extremely challenging for a student company, and felt our wonderful dancers and creative team were prepared.

Q. How many hours were invested in choreographing The Sleeping Beauty for South Bay Ballet’s Storybook series which presents child-oriented versions of the full-length ballets?

I started working with the storyline in August of last year, and we have not stopped since! Perfecting the ballet will take place up until very the last minute.

Q. You are known for your collaborative spirit, share with us the resources and talents you drew upon for this production?

Our creative team is exceptional. Candice Davis brings her keen sense of choreographic flow; Alicia Head has an unerring sense of style and knows this ballet inside and out; Elijah Pressman is our pas de deux expert. Together, our vision was to present a child-friendly ballet that did not lose the integrity of the original.

Q. South Bay Ballet has a large company of dancers at all levels of ability, how do you find a role for everyone?

The objective is for each dancer to have a challenge, but one that can and will be met.

Q: Janice, when did you start conceptualizing the costumes and sets for The Sleeping Beauty?

Work began about a year ago, right after we finished costuming for A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Thousands of hours by the entire artistic team have gone into this brand new ballet and it will be rewarding to see production come to life on stage.

Q: How did you select the color scheme for this production’s elaborate sets and magnificent costumes?

I think color is one of the most useful elements of design because it is essentially free. My approach is like a painting, you do the background – that’s the scenery; and then you do the people – that’s the costumes. Working closely with the artistic directors is the key to choosing colors that highlight movement.

Q: What are some of the most important things you have to keep in mind when you’re designing ballet costumes?

Dancers put their bodies in positions that would rip the seams of normal clothes, so we take special consideration to allow for freedom of movement as much as possible. Equal thought is given to every costume I design, no matter how small the part or how difficult the role. Also, I try to design costumes that can easily be altered for future casts.

Q: Some dancers have costume changes that have to take place within minutes. How is this accomplished?

Costume changes can be very challenging. Often dancers are required to change layers of costumes, tights, shoes, or headpieces in a matter of minutes. Thoughtful design is as important as the backstage volunteers who keep the dancers organized.

Did you know?

• This brand new production features 110 costumes consisting of 272 costume pieces, 71 headpieces, and 21 tiaras

• Except for the tutu skirt bases, some unitards and tiaras, all of the costumes are made by our in-house costume department

• More than 1,000 hooks and eyes were sewn by South Bay Ballet’s costume department

• Several thousand Swarovski crystals are sewn on by hand using invisible thread

• Hundreds of yards of trim were purchased at the Los Angeles fashion district

• The spinning wheels in our production are from Poland. The large spinning wheel is a working model, altered slightly for our use, and hand-painted and decorated with crystals. The smaller wheels are models of larger wheels with the classic look of old European spinning wheels.


February 2nd, 2010

The subject of casting comes up a few times a year, and it can be a sensitive issue. People sometimes take things personally, making themselves and everyone around them miserable. I thought I would explain how the process works.

First of all, casting a ballet or a show is a huge puzzle. A place for everyone, and every part gets filled. There are factors like who can partner whom, how the heights go together, and who can wear the costumes. Who has time to change. Who looks good dancing with whom. Who has endurance on pointe for that tech week. Who is strong technically, and who is strong artistically.

Each part affects all the other parts. More often than not, I can’t make a decision I want because of how it affects everything else. Sometimes, the two parts I would like someone to have won’t work because they occur at the same time on stage. There is trying to see that everyone gets a challenge during the year, but a challenge that can be met. Sometimes a dancer will have wonderful role in one ballet, but not in the next. Sometimes we have to look ahead to future performances, trying to be as fair as possible. We also consider the growth of the dancers and of the company. Some of the most talented dancers need the most protection while they are growing or injured. There is value in earning your way up.

Of course, dancer strengths are considered — after all, there is an audience out there! And everyone wants to show off well. It is better to do something that is too easy than something that is chancy. Someone said to me a few weeks ago, “I saw the ballet on tape, and thought it would be a piece of cake. But it really kicked my ***!” All ballet is more difficult than it looks.

We really care about how people feel, but in a professional company, no one cares. If you don’t like how you are cast, learn to brush it off. Be happy for your friends. The important thing is how well you do with what you are given. It’s a tough world out there and if you are going to be emotionally prepared to be a dancer, this is just one of the things you need to learn.

We could be one of those companies who does recitals:everyone gets a solo and everyone is happy. Or one of those companies who puts little people in the middle of a grand pas. But we are South Bay Ballet! We are proud to be part of something truly fine.

Diane Lauridsen

Artistic Director

South Bay Ballet

A New Season of South Bay Ballet starting soon!

August 14th, 2009

bravo-06_-deja-vu_mkhoury2SOUTH BAY BALLET ANNOUNCES SPECTACULAR 2009 – 2010 SEASON
Join the excitement!

South Bay Ballet Artistic Director Diane Lauridsen announced programming today for the Company’s 30th season.  South Bay Ballet’s 2009 – 2010 season showcases the Company’s versatility with a variety of ballets beginning with The Nutcracker in December, as well as its annual Bravo! concert in March featuring new works by Heather Grey and Kenneth Walker, emerging work by Skylar Burson, and more.  Following the great success of this year’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the Company will premiere another Storybook Ballet in June 2010, Sleeping Beauty, with grand new sets and beautiful new costumes by Janice Munson.

The proven training program of South Bay Ballet is designed to prepare dancers for a professional performing career.  Curriculum features a foundation in traditional classical techniques enhanced by thirty years of experience incorporating cutting edge anatomical and kinesthetic principles. Company dancers experience a real company atmosphere and performance opportunities that mirror the professional world.  This season’s Senior Company begins work on Saturday, August 22nd, and the Junior Company on August 29th.

Join the excitement!  Diane Lauridsen continues to seek excellent dancers with the drive to grow and mature as an artist.  To arrange an audition, please contact Diane directly at (310) 963-1247.