Pacific Ballet Dance Theatre to present ‘Joys of the season’ at Pepperdine

Another Christmas tradition is finally returning to Malibu after the pandemic — the annual holiday dance and ballet performance at Pepperdine. 

Under the direction of Director and Choreographer Natasha Middleton, the Pacific Ballet Dance Theatre (PBDT) will be giving two holiday dance performances at Pepperdine University on Dec. 10 and 11, under the auspices of the Lisa Smith Wengler Center for the Arts, at the Smothers Theatre.

Instead of performing “The Nutcracker” ballet in its entirety — which was the Pepperdine tradition before the pandemic — PBDT decided to spice things up a bit with a show featuring selections from “The Nutcracker,” “Les Patineurs (The Skater’s Waltz)” and “The Little Match Girl.” 

“We’re very excited to be a part of the Malibu area by performing at Pepperdine for the first time,” Natasha said in a phone interview. “We were invited by a patron of Pepperdine and hope to work more with the university’s dance department, although we’re just getting to know each other.”

“Joys of the Season” will present excerpts from “The Nutcracker” that include the sugarplum fairies, nutcracker prince, land of snow, land of sweets and the waltz of the flowers. While Nutcracker and Skater’s Waltz will feature classic ballet style, “The Little Match Girl” portion is choreographed by Middleton to be something different.

“There will be a touch of Old Irish and English dancing, with a lot of acrobatics and even some fusion hip-hop,” Middleton described. “There are a lot of different characters and very upbeat music. It’ll be a fun experience for the whole family.”

“Joys of the Season” is a two-hour show that includes an intermission. The production is a multimedia presentation with backdrops and film projections that show things like the growing of a Christmas tree and snowflakes falling. 

Pacific Ballet Dance Theatre is a nonprofit organization with a school and a professional ballet company based out of Media City Dance in Burbank, where the rehearsal hall is located. 

“We’ve performed many different ballets at many different venues, mostly in LA, but also around other parts of California like Fresno and Lancaster,” Middleton said. “We’re high-end entertainers known for storytelling and bringing productions to people who wouldn’t normally see a ballet … We want the audience to sit back and enjoy, and be engaged by the choreography.” 

PBDT has 15 full-on dance company members that are soloists and principals, as well as seven apprentices — all of whom will be performing at Pepperdine, plus a couple of guest artists. The talented and diverse cast comes from around the U.S. and the world, including Japan, Mexico, Italy, Brazil, Armenia, and Brazil.

When asked what the dancers did during the pandemic and how they spend their time during the off-seasons, Middleton said they work as actors, dance instructors, models for dance attire, waiters, and even bankers.

She comes by the music, acting and ballet genes honestly enough — her father, a surviving member of the elite Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, was the original founder of PBDT. Her mother was a San Francisco Opera soprano, her grandmother was also in the Ballet Russe, and her aunt, Yvonne de Carlo, was Lily on “The Munsters.”

“Joys of the Season” will be performed by the Pacific Ballet Dance Theatre on Saturday, Dec. 10, at 8 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 11, at 2:30 p.m. Both performances will take place at the Smothers Theatre at Pepperdine University (24255 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu).

Tickets can be purchased at www.pacificballetdancetheatre.com or from the Pepperdine University Box Office, (310) 506-4522, open Tuesday through Friday from noon to 5 p.m.

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