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Monday, December 10 , 2018, 11:26 pm | Fair 46º


State Street Ballet Celebrates 20th Anniversary with Elegant ‘Emerald’ Gala

Supporters of the polished local 'gem' gather for an evening of glitz and glamour, fine cuisine and world-class dance performances

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An elegant evening filled with glamour, fine cuisine and world-class dance performances greeted guests at the Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara to celebrate a local “gem,” the State Street Ballet, at the 20th anniversary “Emerald” gala fundraiser.

“We at State Street Ballet so appreciate everyone who joined us to support our 20th anniversary celebration,” State Street Ballet board director/founder Rodney Gustafson said. “We are thrilled to be part of the artistic vibrancy of this creative community.”

Guests gathered in a lush garden on a beautiful fall evening while sipping a signature cocktail, the Emerald Martini, to the accompaniment of live music by Chris Fossek on Spanish guitar.

As the sun set, supporters entered the Loggia Ballroom for the evening’s event and dinner, where they were treated to dance vignettes from the company and the ambient sounds of movie and television music producer Bent Myggen.

Vignettes performed for the evening encompassed a range of styles with “You Are All for Me,” with music by Ana Gabriel and choreography by Mauricio Vera, “Tango Rain,” with music by Astor Piazzola and William Soleau choreographer, plus “Fly Me to the Moon,” by Frank Sinatra and choreography by Ryan Camou.

A special music video, “Still Beautiful,” featuring the talents of Vanaka Music's Don and Stacey Fergusson, accompanied by JR Richards on lead vocal with State Street Ballet dancers Kate Kadow and Ryan Camou, also wowed the crowd.

“My wife, Stacey, wrote the lyrics of the song following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting as a way of trying to help our then-10-year-old son deal with unthinkable tragedies,” Don Fergusson told Noozhawk. “Our creative director, Min Reid-Richards, had the idea of interpreting the song through ballet, and we were thrilled to collaborate with Rodney and film the video at the Granada Theatre.”  

Also honored for this special 20th anniversary were “gems who helped the organizations succeed,” including Léni Fé Bland, Milly and Wayne Colahan, Jill and Ron Dexter, Margo and Robert Feinberg, Kate and Brooks Firestone, Lillian Lovelace, Sara Miller McCune, Tim Mikel, Anne and Michael Towbes, and in memoriam, Ana Zafferis.

Founded in 1995 by Gustafson, the company combines classical and cutting-edge dance to satisfy diverse audiences.

Upcoming performances include Scheherazade, The Nutcracker, Alice in Wonderland and Common Ground held at the Granada Theatre.

Scheherazade, on Oct. 25, is the mystical tale of love and adventure through the sands of the Arabian deserts.

The family favorite, The Nutcracker, Dec. 20-21, celebrates the holidays with a story of young Clara, who receives a beautiful toy Nutcracker that comes to life leading to a magical and wondrous journey.

And with innovative choreography from Emmy winner Robert Sund, Alice in Wonderland on Feb. 7, follows the imaginative adventures of a young girl, Alice.

Also in 2015, a collaborative effort with Detroit’s Eisenhower Dance, Common Ground comes to the Granada on May 9, for the world premiere by Montreal-based choreographer Edgar Zendejas that explores “the change of the seasons inside each one of us through life experience,” and illuminates the strength of the human condition.

Since 2008, the 10,400-square-foot, state-of-the-art studio at 2285 Las Positas Road has functioned as a locale for performing arts events and home for more than 500 dance students.

Guests were also encouraged to help supply State Street Ballet dancers with point shoes for the season since these delicate and handmade shoes used to train and perform last only about a week before needing to be replaced — a costly endeavor for the company.

Single-ticket sales cover only half of the operating expenses for the organization, and all levels of support are graciously accepted to continue the high level of performances. Click here for more information, or send donations to State Street Ballet, 2285 Las Positas Road, Santa Barbara, CA 93105.

Noozhawk iSociety columnist Melissa Walker can be reached at [email protected]. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkSociety, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.

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