Proclaiming that two arts are better than one, Ballet Pacifica and Pacific Chorale celebrated their first-ever appearance together at the Orange County Performing Arts Center.
At a post-performance reception staged Sunday by the boards of both organizations at the Westin South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa, supporters of the choral ensemble and ballet company toasted their unusual partnership. Ballet Pacifica boosters had double reason to celebrate: The performance marked the first time the company had danced at the center.
"What a beautiful collaboration," said Betsy Moulton, event chairwoman and president of the Pacific Chorale Guild, after seeing the show. Programs featuring ballet companies and chorales are rare, she said.
"There's not a lot of literature that combines choral music and dancing."
Mary Lyons, chairman emeritus of the Pacific Chorale board, said both groups benefited from the joint effort.
"Choruses sound wonderful, but they tend to be visually blah," she said. "This changed all of that."
Although Ballet Pacifica had danced with the chorale before, this was the first time the company performed an entire program with the ensemble.
"It's very exciting for (the dancers) to work with another group," said Molly Lynch, artistic director of Ballet Pacifica. "It's not done very often with an entire program like this. The breath of the singers and dancers seemed to meld well together."
Dancers also benefited from the experience of performing at the center, a larger venue than the Irvine Barclay Theatre, where they usually dance.
Sandt Litchfield, who danced the role of the Count in "The Unicorn, the Gorgon and the Manticore," said he enjoyed his first time on the center's stage.
"I expected it to be pretty overwhelming, but I was actually more calm tonight than I was during rehearsal," Litchfield said.
Dancers prepared for their performance with the chorale by listening to a tape.
"The tape is always the same, but when it's live, every performance can be slightly different," Litchfield said. "That's the magic."
The reception, which included a buffet of vegetables, cheeses and sweets, was held by the boards to thank their supporters. During the evening, Lynch updated the group on Ballet Pacifica's plans to start a conservatory in Irvine by late spring.
Among the guests were John Alexander, artistic director and conductor of Pacific Chorale; Anne Nutt, chairwoman of the board of Ballet Pacifica; John and Elizabeth Stahr; Tom and Marilyn Nielson; Marshall Rutter; Melly Sutherland; Tania Barton; Jay and Kate St. Clair; Greg Silberman; Terry Knowles; Marilyn Lynch, and Nancy Locke.