Pasadena City Ballet Dances Its Way to 60th Anniversary, Celebrates Artistic Directors' 20-Year Mark

Published : Friday, June 14, 2019 | 5:04 AM

Tania Grafos, Diane De Franco Browne, Zoe Vidalakis

Pasadena City Ballet celebrates 60 years of arts and dance education and the artistic directors’ 20th anniversary on Saturday.

The group will perform “Deja Revue,” a show-within-a-show featuring the best ballet, contemporary, hip-hop, character, and tap pieces from the last two decades.

The three women artistic directors, Zoe Vidalakis Tania Grafos and Diane De Franco Browne bought the school 20 years ago and never looked back. That’s because they feel strongly that an arts education should be integrated into standard curriculum.

“Ballet and dance in general have become such an expansive form of expression for children, for boys and girls,” said Zoe Vidalakis one of the directors of the Pasadena City Ballet. “I think it is something that helps them at school and it enables them to manage their time effectively.”

Dance builds confidence in young people.

In the 20 years Vidalakis, De Franco Browne and Grafos have been the directors there have been significant advancements in technology, the arts and in community. The three women bought the business from Elly  and enhanced it by offering a range of new dance options. Today the school offers character and hip hop in addition to jazz, tap and theatrical styles.

“In whatever profession, it’s something that enables them,” Vidalakis said. “It enables them to be active learners because when you’re in a classroom and you’re getting choreography or movement thrown at you, you have to internalize it on the spot, and then perform it. You can’t go home read about it and take a test on it a week later.”

The timing was good for the Pasadena City Ballet. There were only 10,000 to 12,000 dance studios when Vidalakis and her partners came in. Now she estimates there are 55,000, and that is mainly attributable to media.

TV Shows Build Awareness of Dance

Shows like “Dancing with the Stars” and “So You Think You Can Dance” have enhanced the scope, Vidalakis said. She said while the school is not based on contests, awareness of dance in general is being built from network TV shows.

“We have benefitted in the sense that dance is something more people think about. It has helped with boys as well,”  We are not a competition school, it’s not our philosophy.”

The philosophy is to create a strong foundation and work with the community.

Pasadena Civic Ballet Center is the school and Pasadena City Ballet Company is the non-profit entity for the more serious dancers attending multiple times a week, she said. Outreach in the community is one of the outfit’s goals.

“We didn’t have any challenges when we first came in but we were fortunate the former owner Elly Charlotte Van-Dyke had the school and the location and we were blessed to take over,” Vidalakis said. “Thankfully we were able to take that foundation and flourish.

“It was a risk but we’re still here 20 years later,” she said.

Saturday’s performance will also feature professional alumni and guest artists.

To purchase tickets go to Pasadena Civic tickets. For more, click here.

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