Ballet Repertory Theatre opens 36th season

Huntington Beach's Ballet Repertory Theatre will open its 36th season this weekend by staging the technically challenging "La Bayadère" at Golden West College.

For the second time in four seasons, the hometown company with a shoestring budget will present its rendition of the full-length ballet — which the Frenchman Marius Petipa first choreographed in St. Petersburg, Russia, in 1877 — and usually is performed by the world's most prestigious ballet houses.

"Obviously we don't have glamorous sets, but the story is complete — everything is intact," said Terri Sellars, who has restaged a Kirov Ballet version of the tragic love story set in ancient India.

Sellars, who with her husband Anthony shares the title of the company's artistic director, said she pared the ballet down to two acts while staying true to the story and without compromising on its technical challenges.

In Act II of "La Bayadère" (which translates from French into "The Temple Dancer"), the Ballet Repertory Theatre will install a 40-foot ramp to stage the ballet's most surreal but complicated scene: the "Kingdom of the Shades" dance. The girls who make up the company's corps de ballet will perform 42 arabesques as they descend the ramp.

"It has to be perfectly together and precise for it to work," said Sylvie Nguyen, a parent who volunteers as the press liaison with the Ballet Repertory Theatre Assn., the company's nonprofit fundraising arm.

By the sound of it, this production will be yet another communal labor of love put on by the all-volunteer company. Its mission is to provide the community with a ballet experience at an affordable price, as well as give aspiring ballet dancers an opportunity to perform in a professional environment.

Terri Sellars, for one, designed the costumes and enlisted six other volunteers to help with last-minute sewing jobs, adjustments and alterations.

Established in 1977, the company relies on ticket receipts from its three productions per season, plus money collected by the association.

When the Ballet Repertory Theatre first staged "La Bayadère" in 2009, the budget was only $9,000 — and it won't be spending much more on this year's production, the Sellars noted.

Their son, Christopher, who is now a soloist with the acclaimed Ballet West in Salt Lake City, will fly in from Utah as a guest artist to dance the role of Prince Solor in both the Saturday and Sunday shows.

BRT principal dancers Geneva Caponi and Penelope Koulos will alternate in the role of Nikiya, and principal dancers Caitlyn Lowry and Marlea Otis will alternate in the role of Gamzatti.

The Sellars also run the Orange County Dance Center at 16161 Springdale St.

Twitter: @ImranVittachi

If You Go

What: Ballet Repertory Theatre's "La Bayadère"

Where: Golden West College Mainstage Theater, 15744 Golden West St., Huntington Beach

When: 7 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday

How much: $18 general admission; $13 for students with I.D., seniors and children under 12

To buy tickets: call (714) 895-8150, go to, or visit the box office from 2 to 5 p.m. Thursday and Friday or one hour before showtime

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