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Life and Arts

Celebrating a decade of dance

As both a celestial and geographic pole, the axis mundi is a point of connection between the heavens and earth where compass points meet. It is a place where lines of communication freely pass between higher and lower realms, giving those on the lower realm the opportunity to ascend, and from where those on the higher realm disseminate blessings.

This past Friday evening, to celebrate their 10th anniversary, the Media City Ballet (MCB) opened those lines of communications and bestowed the blessings of their talent upon longtime supporters and new-found friends by performing “Axis Mundi: A Global Multi-Cultural Celebration of Ballet Dance” at the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre.

The company, formed in Burbank a decade ago by Natasha Middleton who serves as the company’s artistic director and choreographer, has become Southern California’s leading dance company specializing in the tradition and style of the Ballets Russes. While Media City Ballet is dedicated to providing Burbank and surrounding communities with quality productions, utilizing the talents of the local community as well as professionals, Media City Youth Ballet trains young dancers to prepare for the organization’s professional company.

Welcomed by Middleton, the company’s executive director, Cindy Pease and members of the organization’s board of directors, Adrianos Facchetti, Roland Armstorff, Carlos Castro, Patricia McCauley, Tom Pease, Brent Young, Vicki Applegate, Andrè B. Van Niekerk, Doug Fitz-Simmons, Bridget Barstow, Natalie Middleton and Ed Salsbury, benefactors and VIPs enjoyed a pre-performance reception.


Among the notables in attendance were Mayor Jess Talamantes who presented the company with a commendation honoring their anniversary, his wife, Sandy Talamantes, Dorothy Matsie and Andrei Tremaine of Ballet Russe, the company’s associate artistic director, Ruben Tonoyan, and Burbank-based actress and stuntwoman Julie Michaels, best known for her portrayal of Denise opposite Patrick Swayze’s character in the 1989 film “Road House.” Accompanied by her 7-year old daughter, Victoria Piemonte, Michaels was introduced to the Media City Ballet while searching for a company her daughter could train with. “I attended one of their performances and was speechless,” said Michaels. “Their level of professionalism was beyond anything I had ever seen in Southern California dance.”

Among those who performed on Friday evening were Natalie Kramer, Gabrielle Palmatier, Richard Gilkerson, Tatiana A’Virmond, Annia Hidalgo, Enton Hoxha, Vardan Khachatryan, Edgar Nikolyan, Antoinette Peloso, Jesus Solorio, Albertossy Espinoza, Robson Tadeu Freire, Kristine Gregorian, Meagen Mendoza, Candice Sanchez, Lauren Farrell, Michael A. Hamilton, Nick Müller, Moses Navarro, Heather Blodget, Irena Gharibyan, Jessica Haganey, Hannah Hart, Ezra Shipin, Audrey Young, Alexandria Wong, Ian Waschak, Jody Balsam, Nayila Duveux, Danielle Haber, Charlotte Harrop, Ani Hovannisian, Philippe Leipzig, Raymond Meadows, Mario Perez, Oscar Reyna, Tina Yedgarian, Carly Young and members of Glendale’s Zvartnots Dance Ensemble Karapet Jereiyan, Arthur Akopyan, Shant Avadisian, Narbeh Khachikyan, Vardan Dagstayan and Henry Ovsepyan.

Others who made Friday’s celebratory performance a success by their creativity, support and presence included Regine Astier, Edward Arno, Danyol Jaye, Julie Westbrooke, Stephanie Pease, Miriam Gootman, Chisato DeBose, Elizabeth Baldwin, Robert and Josephine Barbera, Rebecca Carson, Steve Moyer, Suzanne Dunwell representing Assemblyman Mike Gatto and Elizabeth Peterson.

For more information about Media City Ballet and their upcoming performances you can visit their website at