On the Town: Dancing up a storm at the Ford

While some had no choice but to stand due to a sell-out, standing-room-only house, even those with seats at the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre took to their feet in a standing ovation following the Pacific Ballet Dance Theatre’s “Dance in the USA” performance Friday evening.

The show, created and directed by PBDT’s Founder, Artistic Director and Choreographer Natasha Middleton, with the assistance of Edward Arno, saw the Burbank-born dance company, formerly known as the Media City Ballet, offer up a mid-summer-night salute to the songwriters, composers and recording artists who have influenced American dance over the past century.

From the rags of Scott Joplin to the pop of the late Michael Jackson, Friday’s performance saw dancers kick it up to an eclectic mix that included the music of Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Irving Berlin, Aaron Copeland, Tommy Dorsey, Bill Haley, Elvis Presley, Benny Goodman, the Doors, Simon and Garfunkel, Nancy Sinatra, the Beach Boys, Ray Charles, the B-52s, Donna Summer and the Eagles.

Appearing in principal roles for the performance, which was dedicated to the men and women currently serving in the United States armed forces, were the stunning Carrie Lee Riggins of the New York City Ballet, who appeared in the 2010 Oscar-nominated film, “Black Swan”; Chris Trousdale, of the Disney Channel’s popular show, “Shake It Up”; and Alexander Fost, who was seen in season eight of Fox’s “So You Think You Can Dance.” Rounding out the lead cast were Tatiana A’ Virmond, April Mcleod-Baker, Allan McCormick and Jekyns Palaezr.

Among the evening’s soloists and demi-soloists were Laura Alexich, Amara Baptist, Albertossy Esponoza, Kristine Gregorian, Michael Hamilton, Robin Tedeau Freire, Jennifer Sherry, Jeremiah Tatum, Brett Newton, Andrew Claus, Philippe Leipzig, Lauren Frias, Hanna Hart, Princess Romero and Tonya Vivian.

Friday’s performance also included the talents of the company’s corps de ballet, made up of Ruzanna Avetisyan, Charlotte Harrop, Ani Hovhannisyan, Oscar Reyna, Natalya Shoaf and Tina Yedgarian, and appearances by Hollywood Hotshots swing dancers Bboy Peru, Katie Mae Harrington, Stefanie Klausman and Minn Vo and apprentices Laura Collins, Naylia Deveaux, Raymond Meadows, Pamela Ortega, Aeva So and Maddie Weerts.

Others who made Friday’s performance a night to remember by their work, support and presence included Ruben Tonoyan, Stephanie Pease, Joe Cruz, Tom Robin, Priscilla Cruz, Jim Smith, Liz Nankin, Keiko Moreno, Joe Cruz Jr., Marcus LaMantagne, Grant Tovmasian, Yaroslav Altunin, Chris Komashko, Kellsy MacKilligan, Haley Mintz, Ryan and Brandon Connole, Greag Pease, Roland Armstorff, Bridget Barstow, Nicholas Erin, Tom Pease, Andre van Niekerk, Ken Applegate, Richard Friedman, Shirley Chan, Andrew Garsten, Helen McDonagh, Wayne Miller, Chris and Suzanne Weerts and the company’s executive director, Cynthia Pease.

For more information on the Pacific Ballet Dance Theatre’s upcoming performances, click on www.pacificballetdancetheatre.org

DAVID LAURELL can be reached by e-mail dlaurell@aol.com or (818) 563-1007.

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