• Diablo Ballet - March 6, 2018


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    For this week's #TinaTuesday, I had the amazing opportunity to sit with Lauren Jonas, Artistic Director and co-founder of Diablo Ballet in Walnut Creek.  First, let me give you a little background on Lauren.  Lauren started taking ballet when she was just 6 years old.  By the time she was a Senior in high school, she was determined to start on her dream of becoming a professional dancer, so she finished high school early and began the journey that brought her to where she is now.   Her experience includes working with the Milwaukee Ballet, the New Mexico Ballet and the Oakland Ballet, as well as being one of only five Americans chosen to tour with the Moscow Ballet. (Wow!)  Then, in 1993 she started planning Diablo Ballet with co-founder Ashraf Habibullah, and officially opened their doors in 1994.  Their mission became their desire to enhance the arts and arts education, through the world of professional dance, in the East Bay. 

    Today, Diablo Ballet is an award-winning, internationally recognized, professional dance company committed to enriching, inspiring, and educating children and adults through the art of dance. Diablo Ballet was founded in 1993 to address the absence of a professional ballet company in the region. The Company consists of 10 employed dancers (5 Men and 5 Women) who have performed throughout the United States, Europe, and South America.  The dancers practice 5 1/2 hours a day, 5 days a week and I've got to tell you, just watching them was exhausting but, also beautiful.  Diablo Ballet presents exciting dance performances featuring classical and contemporary works, educational and outreach programs, and productions on tour. The Company has received an enthusiastic public response, critical acclaim, and international recognition.  

    One of the other amazing things that sets Diablo Ballet apart is their PEEK Outreach Programs (Performing Arts Education & Enrichment for Kids), which is the only arts education program of its kind that is offered by a professional dance company in the Bay Area. The PEEK Outreach Program provides in-school creative movement curriculum designed to teach students to express their feelings through movement and teamwork.  Another big deal for them happened in 2015, when Diablo Ballet was one of just eight state-wide organizations to receive funding from the California Arts Council to bring its PEEK Extension arts education to at-risk teenagers within the Contra Costa County juvenile justice system.  Both programs allow youth & teens the creative tools to utilize body language and facial expressions, as a means of coping with situational challenges.  PEEK, which is based on the California Visual and Performing Arts Standards, has reached over 68,000 under-served children and at-risk teens since 1995. The curricula has been endorsed by federal, state and local policy-makers, including the State Assembly for “Successfully imparting inspiring young people to become actively involved in all that life has to offer.” Its goals are for students to develop self-esteem by expressing their emotions and experiences through original movement (body language and facial expression); build soft skills such as self-confidence and an increased sense of courage by cooperating with others and working in a group to present a story that has a beginning, middle, and an end, using creative movement rather than words; learn and develop hard skills such as problem-solving, compromise, and positive communication through physical activity and working together in teams.  

    This year Diablo Ballet is celebrating their 24th Anniversary. (woot, woot)  On March 22nd, Diablo Ballet will celebrate their 24th Anniversary Performance starting at the Lesher Center for the Arts with a performance by the Diablo Ballet dancers, immediately followed by a Gala at Scott's Garden.  If you'd like to join Diablo Ballet for their 24th Anniversary Celebrations (funds raised goes to support their outstanding PEEK Outreach Programs) visit their website ... https://diabloballet.org/anniversary-gala/.  Thank you Lauren, for educating me on Diablo Ballet and all of the amazing things you are doing to bring arts education to underserved youth.  You are amazing!

    *Photo Credit - Aris Bernales 
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