Festival Ballet Theatre to present gala show

Two female dancers who came out of Fountain Valley’s Southland Ballet Academy and its affiliated Festival Ballet Theatre will be among 14 guests dancing in FBT’s “Gala of the Stars” performance in Irvine next month.

Jamie Kopit and Sareen Tchekmedyian — both Huntington Beach natives who now dance respectively as corps de ballet members with the American Ballet Theatre in New York and the Sarasota Ballet in Florida — will take part in FBT’s gala show at the Irvine Barclay Theatre at 8 p.m. Aug. 17, company officials announced.

FBT Artistic Director Salwa Rizkalla said the 14 guest dancers would perform at least eight pieces of classical, contemporary and modern dance.

“We are very excited to host these all-star dancers and present their amazing talents to our local audiences,” Rizkalla said in a prepared statement. “They bring a variety of styles and backgrounds to the program, which will certainly keep the audience glued to their seats.”

Her nonprofit ballet company has had to raise money through sponsorships to pay for the guest dancers to travel to Orange County from as far away as Germany and the Czech Republic, and is seeking additional sponsors.

While Tchekmedyian will be the sole dancer from the Sarasota Ballet, three others from the ABT will join Kopit for the O.C. gala: Skylar Brandt, Veronika Part and Cory Stearns.

Fabrice Calmels of the Joffrey Ballet and Carla Korbes of the Pacific Northwest Ballet will make return visits to Orange County as guests of the Festival Ballet Theatre. Calmels and Korbes will perform as a duo in “After the Rain,” choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon.

The rest of the roster appearing for the first time as guests of the FBT includes: Daniel Ulbricht of the New York City Ballet; April Ball and Stephan Bourgon of Les Ballets de Monte Carlo; Daniel Camargo of the Stuttgart Ballet; Mari Kawanishi and Alexander Shpak of the Staats Ballet Berlin; and Rebecca King of the Prague State Opera Ballet.

Tickets for the gala range from $35 to $55, and VIP tickets — which covers premium seating, a pre-gala dinner and drinks — are priced at $150 each. To buy tickets or sponsorships, visit

Twitter: @ImranVittachi