Santa Barbara Festival Ballet, Santa Barbara’s longest-running hometown ballet conservatory, is rehearsing for its spring show, Ballet in Bloom to be staged 3-7 p.m., April 8, at Center Stage Theater, Paseo Nuevo.

Beneath the school’s vaulted ceilings, gazelles in tutus and tights are spinning and waltzing in sync through the bolts of sunlight that slant in through the high windows. Artistic director Aimee Lopez shouts corrections and encouragement like a friendly drill sergeant.

Later in rehearsal, the dancers will don simpler garb to fine-tune the modernist dance pieces that will also appear in the varied program.

Ballet in Bloom has something for both the classical purist and the devotee of modern dance. The evening’s classical program will include excerpts from the Paquita Grand Pas Classique, first staged by Marius Petipa in 1881.

Petipa is perhaps best known for having partnered with Tchaikovsky to create the timeless ballets Swan Lake and The Nutcracker.

Leaping from the 1800s to today, the performance will include the debut of longtime local choreographer Valerie Huston’s new ballet Emboité, and Brooke Melton’s haunting contemporary work As If Heading Nowhere.

There will be a special guest performance from the UCSB dance company, and a sneak peek at SBFB’s new storybook ballet The Tales of Beatrix Potter.

Tickets are $28 general, $22 for students and seniors, $20 for children under 12. For tickets, call 963-0408 or visit

— Jeff Wing for Santa Barbara Festival Ballet.