Media City Dance studio produces a fantastical ballet based on the story of the lost city of Atlantis. Ninety students, ranging in age from 3 to 70, don whimsical costumes to depict characters one might encounter under the sea. Segments are embellished with music by classic and modern-day composers.
By Joyce Rudolph
Media City Dance students infused their heart and soul into characters one might find while searching for an underwater city, during their annual recital.
The two-act ballet titled “Atlantis”, based on the lost city, was performed Friday evening at Burroughs High School auditorium. The ninety dancers were all students of the studio and ranged in age from 3 to 70.
Studio owner, Natasha Middleton, handed the reins of directing the annual show to longtime student Stephanie Pease while Middleton concentrated on the next performance of her professional company ~ Pacific Ballet Dance Theatre ~ set for Aug. 17 at the Ford Theatre in Hollywood.
Pease, 26, not only directed the show, but wrote the story, created the choreography, selected the music and worked with the costume designer on getting what she wanted.
The story revolves around a young girl, played by Lauren Santia, who works in the coal mines. She reads the story of Atlantis to children of the town, including her brother, played by Peter Yedgarian. One day he goes off looking for Atlantis and she tries to find him.
Each encounters many characters ~ good and bad ~along their separate journeys ~ mermaids, fish, the Atlantean Queen, portrayed by Tina Yedgarian, Lunesta the Queen of the Tides, played by Kristine Gregoria, a dragon and the evil octopus ~ Octavia, performed by Natalya Shoaf.
Evelyn Fischer, 9, played a Glitter Fish and was a member of the School of Fish.
“They were really fun and I liked the way the music went to it and how the dance all came together,” she said.
The multi-media production incorporates recorded music by such composers as Philip Glass, John Williams and Sergei Prokofiev along with lighting effects and changing backdrops that are projected on a rear screen. Jazz choreography was created by Allan McCormick in the segment for Octavia’s Lair and wind choreography was that of Grant Tovmasian during The Storm scene.
Jan Pfeiffer’s daughter Sayuri Pfeiffer played a coal miner in the opening segment and a Glow Fish. He was impressed with the choreography, he said.
“I think Stephanie did a fantastic job. Some of the highlights were my daughter’s dance segments but I also thought the Octavia character was wonderful. The costumes and the choreography were really interesting.”
Nadia Habashy came to see niece’s daughter in the show.
“I liked it, everything~ the lights ~ the music was perfect,” she said.
Producing a show like this is harder than it looks, said Andrei Tremaine, Middleton’s father and former dancer with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. The lighting effects and the backdrops have to be carefully orchestrated so it works cohesively with the dancing on stage.
“The director has to sit down and plan it out,” he said. “There are many things that are done behind the scenes to get the timing right. And her choice of music was very good…some of it is music I haven’t heard before but it fits. She has done a great job.”
The professionalism of the dance recitals has continued to impress Cindy Pease, the choreographer’s mother, over the years her daughter has taken classes there, she said. Stephanie started with Middleton when she was 5.
“Natasha maximizes the talents of the younger children and she really puts on a themed professional show and this is the training they get so when they get older ~ I’d say at least one-third of Natasha’s students go on to professional dance companies ~ they are then qualified to perform in shows
because they have realized the experience of working with a company in a professional manner,” Cindy Pease said.
The Media City Dance training takes them from the school level to the junior ballet company and later to the professional ballet company ~ the Pacific Ballet Dance Theatre, she added.
Friday night’s production was dedicated to Paul Maure, a former teacher of the Burbank studio, who died in January. He also danced with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo.