In the summertime, ballet aficionados from Orange County and beyond are treated to a show like no other with Festival Ballet Theatre’s Annual Gala of the Stars. Now on its 10th year, the Gala brings together world-renowned dancers to the local stage, performing alongside local talent. “I had the idea to gather second companies, trainees and guest artists together to perform for Orange County audiences,” shared Salwa Rizkalla, Festival Ballet Theatre Founder, and Artistic Director. It was initially held in May, which turned out to be a challenge for guest performers, who were in the middle of their season. That’s when Salwa came up with the idea to combine the Gala event with the summer intensive and use the amazing young talent that is nurtured here, alongside the established dancers to put on a festival to celebrate the three weeks of intensive training. The summer date for the Gala of the Stars and Inspired Young Dancer celebration turned out to be very successful! The double feature was a way for Salwa and Festival Ballet Theatre to share the joy of dance and passion for the arts and to this day, continues to inspire future dancers and audiences in Orange County.

This year, on August 18th, Festival Ballet Theatre will be presenting the Gala at Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall in Costa Mesa, instead of their usual venue at the Irvine Barclay Theatre. “We have the privilege of being at The Irvine Barclay Theatre for our season.  They have provided us with a great intimate venue and wonderful support for our shows.” This year is the first time the Gala will be held at another venue. Adds Salwa, “Having the Gala at Segerstrom will give us the opportunity to be in front of a new larger audience.”

Finding guest artists to perform at the Gala is one of the biggest tasks. Salwa shares that she usually starts with a large list of dancers from a variety of companies. Availability plays a large part in who ends up in the show.  The guest artists do enjoy coming to Festival Ballet Theatre’s Gala of the Stars, because it gives them an opportunity to mingle with their peers that they would not normally have a chance to meet before or perform with.  Salwa adds with a smile: “They also enjoy coming to Orange County because of the beaches and the hospitality of Festival Ballet Theatre.”

The following exceptional artists have confirmed their participation in the 2017 Gala:

Misty Copeland, American Ballet Theatre

Alexandre Hammoudi, American Ballet Theatre

Ashley Bouder, New York City Ballet

Gonzalo Garcia, New York City Ballet

Lauren Cuthbertson, The Royal Ballet

Ryoichi Hirano, The Royal Ballet

Laura Morera, The Royal Ballet

Eric Underwood, The Royal Ballet

Yuan Yuan Tan, San Francisco Ballet

Vitor Luiz, San Francisco Ballet

Misty Copeland and Alexandre Hammoudi Guest Artists in Gala of the Stars | Festival Ballet Theatre

Misty Copeland and Alexandre Hammoudi from American Ballet Theatre are two of the guest artists performing at Festival Ballet Theatre’s Gala of the Stars

The Gala of the Stars will have three acts of stunning performances showcasing the stars of today and tomorrow. In the first act, young protégés will demonstrate their talent as a final step in their three weeks of intensive training with distinguished instructors including Jean-Yves Esquerre, Artistic Director of the Dutch National Ballet Academy, Christopher Powney, Artistic Director of The Royal Ballet School, Larissa Saveliev, Founder and Artistic Director of Youth America Grand Prix and Patrick Armand, Associate Director of San Francisco Ballet School. Two acts follow featuring the most prestigious stars of today. Orange County audiences will be treated to rarely seen repertoire from Kenneth MacMillan, Yuri Possokhov, Liam Scarlett, Christopher Wheeldon, Wayne McGregor and George Balanchine.

To learn more about the Gala of the Stars and Inspired Young Dancer event and for ticket information, click here.