Trainees “Tour” to Gualala

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One of the cool parts of the San Francisco Ballet School Trainee program is that we get to travel around the Bay Area to perform at high schools and colleges.  Recently, however, we travelled to Gualala on a mini-tour!  You may wonder, “Where is Gualala?” Sounds like the name of some tropical island, right?  In actuality, Gualala, California is a beautiful little town on the Mendocino coast.

I happen to be very familiar with Gualala! I have been visiting the north coast for my birthday ever since I was two, and my family recently bought property up there, which makes me practically local!  I was thrilled to get to show the other trainees what I truly consider to be my second home.

After about a three-hour drive up curvy HWY 1 (thank goodness no one was sick!), we reached the Gualala Arts Center.  The center is in the middle of the redwood forest, so the name “Dancing in the Redwoods” really was an apt title for our performance!  We were greeted with coffee, tea, food, and welcoming smiles from our hosts, Irma and Sus.  It must be said that our hosts took incredible care of us!  Coffee, tea, fruit, and granola bars were available all day, the temperature on the stage was regulated for our comfort, and they even had an ice machine so that I could ice my foot between shows!

The theater wasn’t the only place we were taken care of; we were assigned to different host families who acted as our “parents” for the weekend.  They allowed us to stay in their lovely homes, made us breakfast in the morning, drove us to the theater, and made bagged lunches with homemade treats! This trip would not have been possible without their amazing support!

Our host families were among the many who came to see the performances at the Arts Center.  We were surprised and gratified to see how well-attended our performances were, and how much the audience genuinely enjoyed themselves.  Several people approached me to say that “Dancing in the Redwoods” MUST become and annual event!

For me, the highlight of the weekend was not that much of my extended family got to watch me dance, or that everyone loved the show, or that I got to spend a glorious few days on the lovely Mendocino coast; it was getting to meet a 4 year-old girl who was absolutely enchanted by the performance, and thought we were all like rock stars. She was exactly the same age that I was when I first discovered ballet.  In her that day, I recognized that instant realization of, “THAT’S what I want to do!”  Maybe one day she will be performing on the Gualala Arts stage as a trainee with the San Francisco Ballet School!

Photo by Alexander Reneff-Olson

Photo by Alexander Reneff-Olson

Photo by Alexander Reneff-Olson

Photo by Alexander Reneff-Olson

 

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2 Comments

  1. avatar Elizabeth
    Posted November 17, 2011 at 8:56 am | Permalink

    What an amazing experience!

  2. avatar Sophia
    Posted November 28, 2011 at 9:37 pm | Permalink

    We were lucky enough to attend one of these performances at the Gualala Arts Center and were just amazed. We do hope that this can be an annual event. What a treat for our little community to get to witness such a beautiful performance. It was fun to read your perspective on the experience as well.

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