Northern California Ballet
Trudi Angel, artistic director of Northern California Ballet, is passionate about live performing arts. She says watching a ballet, play or symphony live is a totally different experience than watching a performance on television.
“I think they’ll enjoy it if they will just come. It’s amazing when I leave the theater and people stop me and say, ‘This was great. I really liked it. I had no idea.'”
But Northern California Ballet (NCB) wasn’t always in a position to stage full-scale ballets. It was strictly a dance school when Angel, a former professional dancer, came on board and created the nonprofit performing company.
The school continues, offering pre-ballet classes to children as young as 4, as well as classical ballet classes for children age 6 and older.
Those dancers who are still going strong in their mid-teens generally enter the performing company. Currently the company has 22 members, ages 15-24. Most of the members are from the Paradise area, while others come from as far away as Walnut Creek and Redding.
Although Angel says it’s difficult for a school and company to compete with the talent and instruction that are available in bigger cities, NCB does so by bringing in numerous guest instructors.
Angel says it’s not necessarily her intention to create professional dancers. Her first goal is to create a place for young people to learn to dance and earn high self-esteem.
“I have found that most of our students, whether they are company dancers or not, are very good scholastically,” Angel explained. “I think one of the things that we found is that the discipline really helps them in so many ways.”
While the students benefit from the instruction and structure, the community benefits from the company’s performances. NCB mounts two full-scale ballets each year—The Nutcracker for the holidays as well as a spring production. Bringing in guest artists to perform with the company adds to the professional quality of the productions.
Such productions are not cheap, and they are the primary reason why the company is structured as a nonprofit organization.
“We do rely on donations, and we rely on community support—heavily,” Angel said. “Sacramento Ballet does their Nutcracker on a $120,000 budget. We do our Nutcracker on a $10,000 budget. But we have to compete. You can drive to Sacramento is less than two hours. A lot of ours is done by donations and by volunteer labor.”
Northern California Ballet accepts monetary contributions as well as donations for its annual rummage sale in August. The organization is always looking for people who can help with costumes, set construction and other production areas.
Later this month, NCB will stage Giselle, a ballet that Angel describes as one of the best ever created. The production features traditional choreography that emphasizes the artistic development and talent of the people on stage.
“I think Giselle is the best ballet in any repertoire,” Angel enthused. “Giselle is a story that is charming, but it is not shallow. It has a lot of depth to it. The ballerina doesn’t just have to be an accomplished dancer; she also has to be a superb actress.”
Sacramento guest artist Rome Saladino, known to local audiences as the Nutcracker Prince, takes on the role of Albrecht. Elizabeth Maxwell, a junior at Paradise High School who has trained with NCB for the past 11 years, performs the title role.
Performances will be held May 18 at 7:15 p.m. and May 19 at 2:15 and 7:15 p.m. Tickets are available in Paradise at the Paradise Performing Arts Center, PIP and The Country Touch, as well as all local branches of Butte Community Bank.
Angel encourages everyone to come out and enjoy the magic of a live ballet performance, even those who may not be familiar with the story of Giselle.
“Just because you don’t know the name, don’t let that deter you. See it and you’ll walk away happy that you came."