Westside Ballet Presents ‘Grace and Grit,’ a Drive-In Film Event at Santa Monica College

Are you looking for an opportunity to safely go outside your home and enjoy the arts?

Westside Ballet of Santa Monica is presenting “Grace and Grit – Dance in the Time of Covid” as a drive-in film event at 7:30 and 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, October 9-10, at the Santa Monica College Bundy Campus, East Parking Lot, 3171 S. Bundy Drive (90066). Tickets are $50 per car and can be purchased at www.westsideballet.com.  

Martine Harley, Westside Ballet’s Artistic Director, says, “This spring, the Covid crisis abruptly halted all preparations for performances, and with it, critical funding for the arts in our community––and around the world. But dance is a living, diverse and adaptive art form, so we wanted to find a way to not only preserve Westside Ballet’s legacy, but also celebrate and sustain the arts in our great city of Santa Monica.”

The movie features Barak Ballet (a preeminent contemporary dance company founded by Westside Ballet alumna Melissa Barak); Santa Monica College’s diverse dance companies Global Motion and Synapse; the award-winning Ballet Folklórico Flor de Mayo; and Westside Ballet’s own dancers and accomplished alumni.

Segments include pieces by acclaimed choreographers Melissa Barak, Jae Young Lee, Jackie Lopez, Sophie Monat, Raquel Ramirez and Sri Susilowati.

Lucia Connolly, who grew up in Pacific Palisades and dances with the Joffrey Ballet danced on ‘Grace and Grit.’

The project highlights several extraordinary professional alumni including Melissa Barak (New York City Ballet, Barak Ballet), Molly Novak (Boston Ballet), international ballet star Joy Womack — and Pacific Palisades native Lucia Connolly, who joined the Joffrey Ballet in Chicago in 2016. She studied at Westside School of Ballet until joining the School of American Ballet in 2014.

Connolly was in town for many months when the Joffrey was on furlough during Covid-19. She taught online classes for Westside and danced a beautiful solo by the beach that will be shown in the film. (Visit: http://joffrey.org/connolly)

Also dancing in the film is Palisadian Mirabelle Weinbach, who graduated from Brentwood School this spring and was accepted to Princeton.

“To me, the idea of ‘Grace and Grit’ reflects the resiliency of the arts community during this time,” Weinbach said. “Though no one imagined we’d ever be dancing on film as opposed to on stage, the same inclination to share our love of dance makes this transition natural, given the circumstances. To be a part of the ‘Grace and Grit’ film project is rewarding because it reminds me of the strength of our Westside Ballet family. Seeing us all united in the Defilé and in Serenade affirms what I already know from my 13 years at Westside: ballet (and dance in general) is a way to find and share the wonders of the arts, which is exactly the intention of the ‘Grace and Grit’ event.”

This event is in conjunction with Santa Monica College’s Public Policy Institute Annual Arts Forum and the SMC Dance Department. Filming and editing on some pieces was done by AFI graduate student Nitzan Levinson.

The community can also help Westside Ballet’s “1500 Angels” Crisis Relief Campaign here:  https://westsideballet.com/save-our-school/


Mirabelle Weinbach
Photo: Todd Lechtick


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