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MUSIC / DANCE : HOME TURF : Coast Ballet Strives to Develop Local Talent

November 17, 1994|CHRIS PASLES | Chris Pasles covers classical music and dance for The Times Orange County Edition.

Sarma and Larry Rosenberg moved from Los Angeles to Orange County in 1981 to start a ballet school. But they soon began setting their sights higher.

"As we trained the dancers, we saw a school wouldn't be enough," Sarma Rosenberg said. "We wanted to send the talented ones off some place. We started to look around the area. But we couldn't in good faith send them anywhere. So we created a company."

The result, Coast Ballet Theatre, which will dance Friday at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, emerged in 1987 from a merger of Ballet Repertory (which the Rosenbergs had formed their first year here), South Coast Ballet and Emerson Dance Theatre. The three companies decided to pool their resources to build a stronger troupe, develop audiences and improve bookings.

The strategy worked.

"We get so many people coming to us and saying, 'How'd you get all the good dancers?' " Rosenberg said. "The thing is, if you train dancers, they're going to be everywhere. Yes, they're in New York. But how do they get to New York? They end up there because that's where the employment is. But they come from all over the U.S.

"You give them the right training, they're going to grow and accomplish. We've had so many who have gone off with scholarships. There's no reason not to grow them here."

The core of the Coast Ballet consists of 12 paid dancers, augmented with apprentices and workshop dancers. For productions such as the "Nutcracker," "we pull in the whole community, about 55 to 60 people."

The San Clemente-based company usually dances at Saddleback or Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa, although it also offers educational outreach programs at the Orange County Performing Arts Center or Newport Harbor Art Museum, under the sponsorship of the center or the Philharmonic Society. Since 1990, the troupe has also traveled to Laughlin, Nevada, to present its "Nutcracker.'

"This year, we actually started a spring season there, too," Rosenberg said. "We take all those people to Nevada with us." (Coast Ballet will dance its "Nutcracker" Dec. 15 through 18 at Saddleback.)

Despite these bookings, Coast Ballet still doesn't reach the numbers it wants.

"We feel the unfortunate thing is that we don't get to show the company often enough."

Part of the problem is money.

"We're scrambling, like any company," she said, declining to give the yearly budget.

But it isn't for want of trying.

"We called the (Saddleback) program, 'Fall in Love With Ballet,' " she said. "Ballet is in trouble. We want to attract audiences to come see the ballet and find out that it is entertaining."

So Rosenberg has planned a range of works, from the classical--excerpts from Petipa's "Paquita"--to several of her own works, which also span the serious to the appealing. These include "Bellum, Pax et Spes," a 1988 piece that has been taken into the repertory of the Riga Ballet Company in Latvia; the new "Le Baiser de la Muse," and "Beach Blanket Ballet."

She called "Bellum" an "allegorical pas de trois."

"As in many works you want the audience to have their own spin on it," she said. "They can see it as a love triangle or more allegorical struggle between war and peace for hope."

"Le Baiser de la Muse" is set to parts of Stravinsky's "Le Baiser de la Fee," in which "Stravinsky is paying homage to Tchaikovsky. I pay homage to both of them."

In "Beach Blanket Ballet," Rosenberg said she is "trying to make the point that dance, ballet, can cover any mood, any time period, depending on how you use it. Ballet is basically a vocabulary. You can express any subject.

"I was a California girl. I was out on the beach with all those surfers. I grant it's lightweight, but still there are technical elements that I feel make it valid."

* What: Coast Ballet Theatre.

* When: Friday, Nov. 18, at 8 p.m.

* Where: McKinney Theatre, Saddleback College, 28000 Marguerite Parkway, Mission Viejo.

* Whereabouts: Take the Avery Parkway exit from the San Diego (5) Freeway and go east to Marguerite Parkway. Turn left and follow the road about a half a mile to the campus entrance. Turn right, then follow Theater Circle Road to the top of the hill. Park in Lot 12.

* Wherewithal: $8 to $10.

* Where to call: (714) 582-4656.



Chilean-born conductor Maximiano Valdes will lead the Pacific Symphony in music by Mozart, Debussy and Ravel today, Nov. 17, at 8 p.m. at the Orange County Performing Arts Center. Seung-Un Ha will be the soloist in Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 20. (714) 556-2787.


Iona Brown will conduct the orchestra in works by Vivaldi, Bach, Handel and Corelli on Sunday, Nov. 20, at 3 p.m. at the Irvine Barclay Theatre. Brown and Ralph Morrison will also be violin soloists. Sponsored by the Orange County Philharmonic Society. (714) 854-4646.


The Southwest Chamber Music Society will play Britten's "Phantasy Quartet," Donald Crockett's "Celestial Mechanics" and Shostakovich's String Quartet No. 15 on Sunday, Nov. 20, at 3 p.m. in the Salmon Recital Hall (music building) at Chapman University. (800) 726-7147.

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