Photo credit: Bryanna Bradley Photography.
The Los Angeles ballet scene has grown tremendously over the past decade and it's drawing dancers from all over the world, who are investing in the flourishing arts scene. Los Angeles Ballet principal dancers and spouses, Petra Conti and Eris Nezha, moved to Southern California almost a year ago and they have big plans ahead.
First on their list is Conti's first dance concert called Petra Conti & Friends: I’m Gonna Live Forever at Zipper Hall in Downtown L.A. on Saturday, May 18. The show focuses on her personal journey, including her battle with kidney cancer in 2016. Nezha, Erik Thordal-Christensen of Oklahoma City Ballet and JeongKon Kim of Los Angeles Ballet will be dancing alongside Conti. The Dream Orchestra Ensemble, conducted by Artistic Director Daniel Suk, will be providing live music for the evening.
Dance Network sat down with the dance duo to talk about plans for planting their roots here in L.A. as well as this week’s concert that went from a small idea to something very grand.
“The concert came about because of the connection we have with the orchestra director, Daniel,” explained Conti. “I thought at the beginning it was going to be something small and then it became something huge. It will be 10 dance pieces. I will be in nine of the pieces.”
Conti and Nezha will be performing one of their signature pieces, Blackstone, which was created by Italian choreographer Gianluca Schiavoni. One exciting element, which will add another layer to the dancers' performances, is live music.
"The orchestra will be onstage with us — side by side. The theatre is a concert hall, so we will be together with the musicians," said Nezha. "The biggest challenge in putting this together was the staging — how do we make this possible? We come from La Scala and Boston Ballet, where there is always live music. L.A. needs this."
The plan is to develop the show on a larger scale and Conti already has scheduled two more dates for November 2019 and February 2020 in L.A. County. The long-term goal is to create a worldwide tour.
Conti and Nezha love the creativity that Southern California has afforded them. They are looking forward to taking advantage of the opportunities they have to work with a variety of artists in the entertainment and dance industry.
“Our dream is to build a theatre that can handle an orchestra, opera and ballet. We need it,” Ezha said enthusiastically. “We are excited because we just started. We can see the artists walking the streets. We feel the energy and passion here.”
They also have a ballet academy on their radar, one that includes contemporary ballet teachings that include the gymnastics tricks that are expected of dancers in 2019. The commercial dance world has had an impact on classical ballet and its teachings.
“Our idea is to rewrite and recreate the methodology of ballet technique as well as how to run a school. The hardest task for a dancer is to be able to dance every style. You are expected to know Balanchine, Jerome Robbins and gymnastics for contemporary ballet,” Conti said. “We want to work with a friend of ours who is not only trained in ballet, but also, rhythmic gymnastics.”
Conti and Ezha are ready to tackle their ambitious dance goals and they are thrilled to be doing it in an area that is ripe for reinvention when it comes to ballet.
“We have been inspired a lot here,” Conti proudly summed up. “I want to be a Los Angeles ballerina.”
For more information on Petra Conti & Friends: I’m Gonna Live Forever, visit the Dream Orchestra website.
Don’t miss Dance Network’s ‘To The Pointe’ interview with ballerina Alison Stroming: