Who says it doesn’t snow in the Conejo Valley? For 25 years the patrons of Pacific Festival Ballet receive a flurry of sparkle and snow as they sit spellbound by The Nutcracker’s snow scene. Not only does it snow onstage but magically, light snowfall descends upon the audience as well.
In October 1994 the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza opened its doors to the community and six weeks later the inaugural Nutcracker season, presented by Pacific Festival Ballet, illuminated the stage along with Conejo Symphony Orchestra, conducted by the late Elmer Ramsey.
“It was a magical moment when the long-awaited dream of the theatre, the orchestra and the ballet came together for the first time,” says artistic director Kim Maselli. “It was the beginning of our journey as a regional ballet company and the past 25 years have exceeded my expectations.”
The traditions of Pacific Festival Ballet’s The Nutcracker have grown in cast size and production value and has featured international guest celebrities over the years from American Ballet Theatre, New York City Ballet, The Joffrey and San Francisco Ballet.
To date, a number of PFB alumni are dancing professionally with several of these companies.
“Having the opportunity to share the stage with world-class ballerinas inspired me as a child and allowed me to realize my dreams could become reality,” says Leili Rackow, former Clara and current company dancer with San Francisco Ballet.
“As a young dancer I was in awe watching Tiler Peck as Sugar Plum Fairy in our Nutcracker,” says PFB alumni Naomi Corti. “Now I am a company member with her at New York City Ballet and I am still in awe of her!”
While training and instilling the fine arts into the next generation is a mission for Pacific Festival Ballet, so is cultivating and inspiring the next generation of ballet enthusiasts. PFB is committed to preserving and presenting the classics, such as The Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella, however, the company also prides itself in creating new and original ballets. For over a decade, Artistic Director Kim Maselli has collaborated with Hollywood composer Eric Allaman.
“The traditions of classical ballet are important to me,” says Maselli, “but so is breaking barriers and pushing ballet into the 21st century. I feel our original ballets draw in an audience who would normally not attend a ballet.”
This May the Allaman/Maselli creative team premieres their third original ballet, Camelot. This legendary saga, full of medieval drama, promises knights and ladies, dragons and forest fairies, King Arthur and Guinevere. Of course, all of this storytelling will be told through dance, both classical and contemporary.
The commitment to produce original and traditional ballets are a part of Pacific Festival Ballet’s thumbprint. As resident company at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza, PFB continues to present world-class productions in this beautiful facility they call home. This December the curtain will rise for their 25th holiday season with the familiar sounds of Tchaikovsky’s score, the beloved story of Clara and her Nutcracker and, of course, the snowfall.