Teri Schmidt is a tireless volunteer and an amazing dance mom to Festival Ballet Theatre company dancer Skye Schmidt. In this post, she writes about the difference between Festival Ballet Theatre and Southland Ballet Academy and the importance of volunteering.


Skye Schmidt and Teri Schmidt | Festival Ballet Theatre

Skye Schmidt as the March Hare in Alice in Wonderland poses with her mom, Teri, after the Festival Ballet Theatre show at the Irvine Barclay Theatre.

How does Festival Ballet Theatre (FBT) differ from Southland Ballet Academy (SBA)?

SBA is a dance school, recognized nationally as among the top in the US. It is a business established by Salwa Rizkalla in 1983. Dance schools typically involve a dancer’s education and one dance recital at year-end in which all dancers participate. It is home to FBT.

What is Festival Ballet Theatre (FBT)?

FBT is a non-profit dance company that presents professional productions in a reputable community theater, with professional costumes and props, company dancers, and national and international guest artists. It reaches a community audience and performs education outreach community service. Salwa Rizkalla established FBT in 1988 to provide performance opportunities for serious dancers to learn to perform on a professional level and to learn the classic full-length ballets, such as The Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake, and Giselle. While SBA is the home of FBT, both organizations are completely separate – their missions, structures, and finances.

As a non-profit, professional dance company, FBT productions are open to all dancers who audition for and are accepted for parts. SBA dancers are conveniently located and trained to audition for and participate in FBT productions. While Salwa tries to design FBT productions to include as many young dancers as possible, she has the responsibility to maintain a professional ballet company to be booked in a reputable theater, to attract star guest artists, and to attract a broader community audience. The Nutcracker is the perfect production to feature children of many ages. FBT’s Nutcracker currently presents 15 performances that provide a great opportunity for performers to hone and maintain their skills.

What is the benefit to SBA dancers to participate in FBT productions?

SBA dancers are able to:
• perform in professional productions and develop their performance skills
• dance beside and be inspired by national and international ballet stars
• learn the classic full-length ballets and contemporary ballets
• gain confidence and become accomplished as a dancer and performer
• learn to be responsible and dependable
• experience the real world of dance
• live a very exciting and unique childhood resulting in a special, life-long memories

Why does FBT need volunteer support?

Most non-profit organizations need volunteer support. For dance companies, ticket sales typically cover about 70 percent of all costs, and fundraisers and volunteers make up the difference. FBT’s budget covers the cost of the theater, marketing/advertising, costumes, props, and their storage, company dancers, rehearsal assistants, and guest artists, and minimal administrative support.

Why volunteer for FBT?

FBT needs many volunteers to be successful and to continue. It is a labor of love for many, including Salwa Rizkalla, who has donated much of her time to FBT since 1988 and rehearsal space and administrative staff time. All extra-curricular activities for children, whether soccer, swim team, baseball, scouting, require parental volunteer support. Volunteering broadens our world as a person. It allows us to get involved, meet people, and share the FBT experience with our children. Please ask how you can participate in supporting FBT.