Barak Ballet’s Showcases Dance Premiere

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Barack dancers perform “Carry Me Anew,” a piece by Ma Cong, in a premiere in 2019. The dancers will perform the piece on July 9 and 10.
Photo: Cheryl Mann

Barak Ballet returns to the Board Theater in Santa Monica on July 9 and 10. The phenomenal dance company will feature a world premiere by Artistic Director Melissa Barak.

In a 2018 L.A. Times story (“The Guide to Dance in L.A.: 12 Standout Companies to Know”) it was noted, “The ballets of Los Angeles native Melissa Barak exhibit the style and energy of George Balanchine and the New York City Ballet, where Barak performed.”

The company has received rave reviews, such as this one in 2019 in the L.A. Dance Chronicle “Barak Ballet astonished the audience with their individual and combined brilliance made up of artist with superior technical and emotional talent.”

Barak’s inspiration for choreography comes from music and “it’s also the dancers themselves and their unique gifts.”

She said qualities she looks for in dancers is athleticism, musicality, sensuality and intelligence.

Barak said people love watching ballet because “it’s a visual art form that encompasses a wide spectrum of creativity, so inspiration is never in short supply.”

Melissa Barak is the artistic director of Barak Ballet.
Photo: Jin Lee

At this July show, “I will be premiering a new work to music by Michael Nyman,” Barak said. “I love this music, it’s so fun and uplifting and I feel that’s a vibe we desperately need at the moment given the past couple years.”

Barak was eight years old when she began dancing at Westside Ballet in Santa Monica.

She decided on her future career, “once I started to train at Westside and began performing in their annual productions.”

Exceptionally talented, at the age of 17, she continued her dancing in New York City at the School of American Ballet.

Two years later, she was offered a contract with the New York City Ballet, where she danced from 1998 to 2007.

Barak was asked about the difference between the dance scene in the two major cities.

“When I moved to New York City, I discovered people frequented the ballet – sometimes weekly—and even nightly,” Barak said. “I was floored. Dance culture is a real thing in New York.”

While with the New York City Ballet, she danced Fairy Carabosse from Sleeping Beauty, Coffee from the Nutcracker, and Russian pas de deux from Swan Lake.

Barak was invited by the director of the New York City Ballet Peter Martins, to participate in the inaugural NY Choreographic Institute.

Martins was so impressed with her piece, that he commissioned her to choreograph a ballet for American Ballet workshop performance, and Barak’s piece “Telemann Overture Suite,” was critically acclaimed.

That success let Martins to ask Barak, 22, for another piece, this time for the company.

When Barak heard that Los Angeles Ballet was starting in 2006, “It really piqued my interest. I thought it would be a great opportunity to join a burgeoning ballet company in my beloved hometown.”

She returned to Los Angeles and its new ballet company in 2007, and danced lead roles in Balanchine’s Serenade, Kammermusik No. 2, and Stravinsky Violin Concerto. 

Even as she continued to dance, her choreography was in demand. She created new works for Richmond Ballet, American Repertory Ballet, Sacramento Ballet, Los Angeles Ballet, National Choreographer’s Initiative, and several New York Choreographic Institutes.

In 2009 and 2010, she was invited to return to the New York City Ballet where she created two more works, A Simple Symphony and Call Me Ben.

Barak started her company in March 2013 because, “I wanted to embark on a vision I always had for ballet.”

She wanted to promote culture where “dancers were part of the creative process, not just mere bodies or material. A company that wasn’t cookie cutter, where individuality was celebrated.”

She decided on the name Barak Ballet, because “I like my last name. I felt Barak Ballet had a good ring to it.”
It was a highly successfully start and Barak was named as a L.A. Times “Face to Watch” in 2013 and 2014.

Shows are Saturday, July 9, at 8 p.m. and on Sunday, July 10, at 2 p.m. at the Broad Stage SMC Performing Arts Center, 1310 11th Street, Santa Monica. For tickets visit: barakballet.org.

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