Posted on September 17, 2018
The Maple Youth Ballet performs at the 17th annual Irvine Global Village Festival on Saturday, Sept. 22, at the Orange County Great Park.
This free all-day event features more than 100 performances representing cultures from around the world; international cuisine; kids’ crafts and activities; cultural and religious exhibits; and an international marketplace.
The Maple Youth ballet performs at 12:45 PM on the Chinese American Musical Association stage near the new balloon lawn. The Young Dancers will perform Tarantella, the Junior Company will perform Animated Garden from Le Corsaire and the Senior Company will perform excerpts from Cinderella and other works. Come out and enjoy this free performance by the Maple Youth Ballet Junior & Senior Company and the Maple Youth Ballet Young Dancers!
Posted on September 5, 2018
The Maple Youth Ballet will be performing at the Festival of Children at South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa September 16 at 2:00 PM.
Young Dancers will be performing Tarantella, and the Junior Company will perform Animated Garden from Le Corsaire. Come out for this free performance by the Maple Youth Ballet Junior Company and the Maple Youth Ballet Young Dancers!
Festival of Children
September 16, 2018 @ 2:00 pm – 2:30 pm
South Coast Plaza, Carousel Court
3333 Bristol St
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Posted on August 31, 2018
Open to the entire community!
Come Join Us For Our 2018 Nutcracker Auditions
Sensational dancers, award winning choreography, thrilling special effects, opulent sets and costumes and a magnificent 55′ growing Christmas tree make this production the holiday crown jewel of Southern California. Artistic Director, Charles Maple, has choreographed a splendid full-length production of E.T.A. Hoffman’s time honored classic. This is the perfect holiday fare for all ages!
Check in 30 minutes before audition time
1:30 PM – Ages 7 – 13*
Girls who are proficient en pointe may attend the 2:30 PM audition.
2:30PM – Ages 13+
Ladies must be prepared to dance en pointe.
All dancers should be warmed up before this audition. We recommend taking the 11:30 AM open class before the audition if no other class is available.
Performance Dates December 14, 15, & 16.
Posted on March 13, 2018
Charles’ Cinderella Blog
Before I began to choreograph Cinderella, I looked at tradition and non-traditional versions of the ballet and noted the elements I enjoyed and those that I found to be missing. I then pieced together a synopsis of the ballet for Maple Youth Ballet based on those thoughts.
The concept of Cinderella can be traced back centuries and individual elements of the story can be found in almost every culture of the world. Told by bards and entertainers from the ancient world, the story has passed from culture to culture and age to age. With each transition it has been altered, embellished and reworked to make it more immediate to its audience. It is impossible to know the exact number of tales (some are replicas of each other, while others have changed so much they are barely recognizable), but it has been estimated there are at least 3,000 variations on the theme of Cinderella worldwide.
The Cinderella story is perhaps one of the most well-known fairy tales in our culture. The version most Americans know best first appeared in Frenchman Charles Perrault’s Tales of Mother Goose, a collection of fairy tales for children, in 1697. The popular Walt Disney animation was based on this version. Perrault simply wrote down a story that had been well–known all over the world for more than 1,000 years. The story is known as “Ashputtle” in France, “Yeh-Shen” in China, “Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters” in Africa and “Vasilisa the Beautiful” in Russia.
A few important details stay the same in all of the stories. The Cinderella character’s mother has usually passed away, and the father has remarried. She is forced to perform menial tasks for her stepmothers and stepsisters, like starting fires and cleaning. In some stories, the girl’s name (Cinderella or Ashputtle) refers to her daily chore of cleaning up the cinders and ashes. The stories usually mention the stepmother and stepsisters’ jealousy of Cinderella’s natural beauty and gentle personality. Then, when a prince or king begins searching for a wife, competition develops between the sisters. Because of Cinderella’s kindness, though, she is given help from fantasy-like people: a fairy godmother, magical animals, etc.
So with all of this information I set out to begin the process of actually piecing the different elements of the ballet together. Now, I do not consider myself to be a great choreographer; I would prefer to think of myself as an arranger of dances. I gather ideas, see what I like, change the order of things around a bit and see what happens. Ideas can come to me from all sorts of places; watching other ballets, from the suggestions of the dancers, the recent winter Olympics, even people walking on the street, cartoons, musicals, and so on. Very often an inadvertent move by a dancer or a flash of inspiration provides an unexpected solution to a choreographic problem. It is not necessarily the originality of the steps that is important. Someone, somewhere has already done almost everything that the human body is capable of doing. Instead, it is the way the moves come together and create an effect that is important to me. It begins with conjuring up wonderful characters from our dancers. That step helps me focus the choreography to be both understandable and enjoyable.
I was never drawn to the idea of having the two stepsisters portrayed by men, as is tradition in the British pantomime. As my ideas came together, and as I had to deal with the number of dancers available to me within Maple Youth Ballet, I was drawn to having the stepsisters and the more menacing stepmother danced by real women.
I also found the father figure to be an awkward character who should have been doing more to protect Cinderella, so I decided to dispose of him altogether and leave Cinderella a stronger girl, able to deal with her nightmare family alone. She did, however, need some friends to share her life with so after some thought, I settled on a cat and a mouse.
I decided to do away with the fairy godmother and instead used the concept that Cinderella’s mother is the spirit driving the ballet forward.
A scene that always bothered me in the traditional interpretations of the ballet was the obligatory dances for the four seasons. It was not the dancing but the fact that the seasons had nothing to do with the story that bothered me. Also the scene took Cinderella away from her house before the magical transition of the pumpkin into a carriage. I do have a dance for three fairies, but they are only there to abet the spirit mother.
Having settled on the story, I now had to come up with the plotting of the choreography and the actual steps. I normally like to work from the beginning to the end of a ballet in sequence, but that was not to be. It always takes a while for the elements to sort themselves out and more often than not when two large chunks of choreography meet there has to be some adjustments made!
I chose to use young dancers from the Maple Conservatory of Dance in this production as I believe the opportunity to perform is a valuable part of their dance education was well as an enhancement to the ballet.
In Cinderella, I wanted to maintain the magic of a fairytale, combined with good dancing, an easily followed story line, humor and romance. I trust that by our opening the correct balance will have been achieved. The dancers have been remarkable in the process and each successive rehearsal has brought more and more individual dimension and understanding to the work as it fully takes on a life of its own. What I ultimately hope for in this production is to express the poetic love of Cinderella and the Prince, the birth and blossoming of that love, the obstacles in its path and finally, the dream fulfilled. I can’t wait to see the results on stage.
Posted on January 31, 2017
Maple Conservatory of Dance is offering a comprehensive world-class summer ballet intensive for adult dancers ages 20 and older. This intensive will cover Ballet Technique, Pointe, Variations, Pas de Deux, Conditioning, Repertoire, and conclude with a performance. Tuition includes welcome reception on June 25th, all classes and DVD of in studio showing. Space is Limited – Enroll Today! 949-660-9930
Date: June 25, 2017 through June 30, 2017
Posted on November 5, 2016
Nutcracker was not a rip-roaring success at its premiere in St. Petersburg, Russia in 1892. The art critic Konstantin Skalkovsky wrote in 1899, “Generally speaking, The Nutcracker was staged mainly for children; for the dancers it contains very little; for art — exactly nothing. Even its music was rather weak. As the dance writer Anatole Chujoy pointed out later on, the Nutcracker ballet remained in the Russian repertory for over 37 years! However, even today, audiences in Russia as well as in Europe are less excited than their American counterparts about The Nutcracker.
So why do Americans love this ballet? The Nutcracker fits into a made-to-order tradition concocted by a country too young to have many traditions of its own. The first full production of The Nutcracker in the U.S. was presented in 1944 by the San Francisco Ballet when ballet was still struggling to gain a foothold in our American culture. Since then, The Nutcracker has become not only the most popular ballet, but one of the most performed ballets in the world.
Ironically, there are dark psychological undertones to the original E. T. A. Hoffmann fairy tale on which the Nutcracker ballet is based. These nuances are rarely brought to the surface in most Nutcracker ballets. What unfolds on stage is the American ideal of a happy and stable family in the style of a Norman Rockwell painting. The famous choreographer, George Balanchine, followed this story closely and was able to capture the American ideal. But not everyone followed the original Nutcracker story. Nutcracker productions have even been set in Harlem!
Balanchine’s Nutcracker production was first performed in February (not December) in 1954 at New York’s City Center. Its setting is at the cozy, middle-class home of the Stahlbaum family in the late 19th century. Hints of darkness emerge in the character of Herr Drosselmeyer, the mysterious guest whose gift of a nutcracker sets the story in motion. But the overall mood is one of loving harmony, which is a scene that pervades most other American Nutcracker productions, no matter how much they diverge from the literary details of the original Nutcracker story.
Perhaps The Nutcracker endures because it conjures cozy holiday memories, the perfect Christmas celebration or the perfect arabesque, all frozen in time. Though The Nutcracker is a classical ballet with strong traditions to which many choreographers adhere, some choreographers have developed modern versions of this ballet.
This December, the Maple Youth Ballet will present its own twist to the Nutcracker. As Maple Youth Ballet’s Artistic Director, I have created a Nutcracker production centered on Clara, a young girl who dreams of becoming a ballerina. Herr Drosselmyer is a ballet master and a magician. He presents Clara with two presents, a Nutcracker and a pair of pointe shoes. Later that night, in her dream she sees herself grown up and dancing with her Nutcracker prince in a performance at the Palace of Sweets. Interestingly enough the original production that would become the present Maple Youth Ballet was first choreographed in 1997 with a young and yet to be discovered, Misty Copeland as Clara and yours truly as the Prince and Choreographer. Misty is now a principal dancer with American Ballet Theatre and her story of dreaming and becoming a ballerina did come true.
Is this like a Christmas Norman Rockwell painting? Is this still an American tradition? Absolutely! The Maple Youth Ballet’s Nutcracker production is a “ballet about ballet” and about the passion to dance. It is a message that lives in the heart, soul and the dreams of every young dancer.
Posted on November 3, 2016
What an amazing fall we have already had in the conservatory. There is a great energy in all of our conservatory classes and in the expansion of our open class program here at the Maple Conservatory of Dance. For the first time ever, we have added Contemporary Jazz and Hip-Hop Dance classes to our schedule, and have also more-than-doubled the number of open adult ballet classes we had previously offered. Our adult open dance classes are designed for dancers 13 years and older and are taught at all levels from Beginning Fundamentals to Professional.
We understand that it is difficult to find high quality dance classes for Adult Dancers, so we have brought together the industry’s best instructors in Ballet, Contemporary Jazz, Modern, and Hip-Hop into our Conservatory right here in Orange County. As a result there is no longer a need to travel to Los Angeles or Hollywood for this kind of world-class instruction. Our goal has always been to provide and maintain the highest international standards in all of our dance instruction.
Please join us for class sometime, dance is our passion and we want to share that passion with you by having you love where you dance.
Posted on October 20, 2016
Chris de la Torre
Dancin’ in Heaven
As a child I always wanted to be a ballerina, like many other little girls. But it was more expensive than gymnastics so that’s where I ended up. Once I started college, I was able to take dance again and I realized that it was, in fact, where I should have been all along. Gymnastics was fun but it never provided the peace of soul ballet does, which is the most important reason on why I dance.
I love the workout as well. Ballet also presents me with a well-defined set of goals (which are seemingly endless and unattainable at times) and a sense of accomplishment. Ballet is so all consuming; when I dance the rest of the world goes away and all there is is the music, the movement and me. It’s the best “drug” I know of — an escape, a panacea for my soul, so to speak. I pray I will never have to find out what life would be like without ballet.
So why do I dance at Maple Conservatory? The facility is great, the support amazing, but mostly the incredible teachers. I don’t think there’s anywhere else I could go and find such an accomplished staff with their level of expertise and experience that truly care about their adult students and their desire to improve and succeed. I doubt there is anywhere else adults could go and learn from teachers who are familiar with the world’s greatest training curriculum and who give such great tips and corrections. We are truly blessed.
Thank you for the Maple Conservatory and for helping us keep our ballet dreams alive!
Why Do I Do It? Because It’s There
Why does a man in his late 70’s take ballet? As I twirl…more accurately…careen across center floor, my arms quasi-extended like twigs on a plumb tree. Both male and female younger dancers scatter ahead of me as leaves before the wind. I can hear my wife (a younger woman than I with some ballet training) moan audibly with embarrassment from behind the observation window. “Why do you do it?” she asks me on the way home, forgetting that she has asked this question 50 times before. I answer as always, “Because it’s there.” I can tell by the blank expression on her face that, as usual, this answer is unsatisfactory.
So why do I do it? Perhaps it is because, as I have become older, I have pondered more closely those things that are important to me. High on the list are health, friends and beauty. One correlate of health, of course, is the ability to move. This ability for me, I sense, has become under serious attack as the years progress. Whether it’s a loss of muscle tissue, nervous connections, or joints that harden and lose their range of motion, the end result is a slippery slope down which my body seems to slide towards a point of immobility; a point on earth that resembles more and more that point of singularity in the black hole at the center of our galaxy from which there is no escape.
Well, if we can’t escape, we may be able to dawdle a while before we get there. “But how to do it?” that is the question. A big piece of the answer comes to us in an old adage, which is particularly applicable to nerves and muscles, “Use them or lose them!” In other words, we need to exercise. But random attempts are not sufficient for this daunting task. We need a well thought-out, comprehensive system…one that challenges all the muscles of the body; that stretches all the joints including the spine; and that pulls the body up and away from that point of singularity. But haven’t I just described ballet? Yes, I could do weight lifting, Pilates or yoga, but for me, ballet incorporates all the moves I need and more.
Along with ballet, come the other values I hold so dear—beauty and friends. There is the beauty of great music played by artists of amazing skill. There is beauty in observing the teaching process as the ballet masters skillfully share their hard won knowledge and creativity with others, who learn and perceptively improve. There is the beauty of healthy people of all ages moving symmetrically through space in time to the natural rhythm and the symbolic meaning of the music. Invariably, these people share a bond of common focus, purpose and enjoyment, which generate an underling a feeling of friendship. In turn, they are gracious in accepting less capable.
Dance Is Magic
Dance is magic. You can dance in beautiful melody such as waltz, tango, etc. and imagine you are a princess dancing all night. You can jump and feel like a bird flying in the sky so free and you can turn like a rolling stone, so powerful and speedy. Ballet gave me a colorful and happy childhood brought me pass through difficult teenage years and even now, I can forget all my distress and frustration while I am dancing.
As an adult student now, I always thought how lucky I am. I am still dancing on the floor and still learning in the class. Every time I come to class I find something new, something different in the routine, even though they are the same steps and the same elements.
I have been in Charles Maple’s class for a long time. Charles is the most wonderful teacher I have ever met. He taught me and urged me to get better and better. For that I am deeply appreciative. He teaches students with passion and patience. His instruction is so clear and precise. In his class, there is always full of fun and cheer.
I would like to say that as a ballet dancer, life has become beautiful and joyful.
I’m Living My Dream
God in His kindness, goodness and mercy has given me the chance at this senior stage of life to now have the wonderful teaching of ballet that I so desired when I was 12 years old.
I grew up in Long Island, New York until I was16 years old. I started taking ballet at age 5 and by age 12 I began begging my parents to further my skills, wanting to take class from André Eglevsky. We had only one car and my mother stayed home. I’m very reminiscent of those days, being one of three children, not being allowed to travel on the bus alone that distance and financially it was not possible, you see, so dancing was not an option at that time.
I stopped taking class until we moved to California. At 17 or 18 years old I was able to pay for my own lessons and I returned to dancing under the teaching of Lila Zali. I loved every minute. But by then, I was too old and not having a ballet body of any type or height; just an unquenchable passion to improve and dance to the best of my ability.
I continued to take classes while raising a family, stopping here and there as the family needs came first. Now, after 30 years of marriage my husband and I are empty nesters. Through the years, God has opened the door to use the abilities He has given me, and I have gone on to direct, produce and choreograph many musicals, skits and other things for the youth ministries and women’s ministries at my church. I am thankful to take my passion for dance and use it for the glory of God.
At the age of 21, I gave my heart to Jesus. He is the real passion of my life and He’s given me the chance to make my dream come true with the fabulous teaching at the Maple Conservatory. Thank you so much for the adult classes. I am truly blessed. Thank you, and God bless you.
Gigi Volk“To me, an adult who loves ballet, dancing for a teacher who enjoys working with adults is like the feeling of love returned to you. That’s Maple Conservatory’s adult classes.”
I started dancing, like many adults, at a very young age. We lived in LA and my mom worked full-time, so a van from the ballet school would actually come to our house and picks me up. She did it primarily to keep me occupied while she was at work, and also as a form of “charm school” to help me rid of my awkwardness and tomboy ways. In fact, she got really serious about having me go to ballet when I decided to join a Powder Puff football league. I have no sisters, just two brother and a sports nut dad, so I thought football would help me fit in with the boys. My mom felt otherwise and she was right.
I started to fall in love with ballet when I was finishing sixth grade and getting ready to go into junior high school. And unfortunately for me, that was when my mom fell out of love with ballet. She was concerned that ballet was going to take up too much of my time for academics (maybe) and that it would make my thighs big (which just the opposite is true!). So she pulled me out right when many of the components — flexibility, port de corp, etc. — were starting to fall into place. The teacher even pleaded with my mom not to pull me out because I was one of her most promising students. It fell on deaf ears. I didn’t come back to dance again until my junior year in high school when I joined the modern dance club and fell in love with dance all over again.
I ended up going to the Univeristy of California at Irvine for the dance program because I could finally make my own decisions in life (and in dance), but my mother was horrified and wouldn’t pay for my education. So I paid for college myself and graduated from UCI way back when Eugene Loring was still the Chairperson of the dance department. El Gabriel was there too and Molly Lynch was a grad student. I was put into remedial ballet when I entered college and bought my first pair of pointe shoes as an 18 year old college student because I had fallen so far behind in my ballet training.
Now as a mature adult dancer, I’ve never let ballet out of my life again. I take as many classes as work (and family) permit and like [Conservatory parent] Wendy Coates, I made the Nutcracker a family affair. Both my boys were gymnasts when they were young so we did Nutcrackers together while my husband worked backstage hauling sets around. I especially love the Maple Conservatory because of the caliber of teachers for adult dancers. Charles and Tong are my favorite teachers because they know how to speak to adults about movement, placement, proper port de bras (which I’d forgotten from my early training), and you both appear genuinely pleased when we get even the simple things right. I appreciate that you push us, but you also keep the class more dance”-y” and expressive, rather than too academic. I hate classes where the teachers are so academic and the movements so static that by the time you get to center work and you’ve hardly moved from where you began.
We adults have so much less natural ability than kids & teenagers who can be shaped and molded. It takes a special kind of a teacher to be able to teach adults because we’re not very inspiring to look at. But among the few who genuinely like teaching adults (like Charles, Tong, Rosemary McCarter and Paul Maure), the excitement and joy they exhibit in watching us dance makes us want to dance even better. I don’t know what they are seeing, but it comes off to us that they like what it is and we’re grateful beyond words.
To me, an adult who loves ballet, dancing for a teacher who enjoys working with adults is like the feeling of love returned to you. That’s the Maple Conservatory’s adult classes (and just a tiny handful of other studios).
Why Do I Dance?
I’m sure my family and friends consider my fascination with this art form a definition of who I am. But the reality is that dance has meant different things to me at different times in my life. As a young child, and very much an introvert, dancing gave me the opportunity to express myself without verbally communicating with others. As an adolescent, my enjoyable hobby turned into an obsession. I was driven to take classes everyday in an effort to improve but I finally faced the fact that dance would not be one of my professional pursuits.
As a young adult, struggling with a weight problem, it provided me with a pleasant form of exercise and an avenue for restoring my self-esteem. In middle age I developed a hip problem that sidelined me from the ballet studio for approximately two years and I resigned myself to the fact that my dancing days were over. I took up walking, swimming, and working out in the gym, but somehow these activities did not feed my soul the way that dancing had done in the past. Intensive physical therapy and my introduction to Pilates provided me with pathways that allowed me to return to the barre and the friendships that I had made in the ballet world.
To be dancing now, as a senior citizen, is truly amazing and it brings me nothing but pure joy. It is a wonderful workout for my body and mind and it is a complete departure from my job as an elementary school principal. As I stand in the corner of the room waiting for my turn to move across the floor, I look at the conservatory dancers in front of me and I try to imprint their images in my mind so that I might replicate their timing, head placement and nuances of style. When it is my turn in the queue I join my group. My heart beats with a rush of adrenaline, the connections in my brain snap and crackle as I struggle to remember the intricate combination, my body tenses, ready to execute the technical demands, and my senses absorb the music as I wait for the perfect moment to launch out into time and space.
Dancing reminds me of a fireworks display. Those rockets that are most spectacular soar into the night sky, pause for an instant and burst into the air with a plethora of sounds and colors. The audience gasps in delight and then realizes that the magical moment has passed, not to be repeated. At other times during the night there is an occasional rocket that streaks into the sky but instead of exploding with vibrant sounds and colors, fizzles, and drops soundlessly into the darkness. Taking my preparation to execute the combination, I hope that I will be able to bring everything together in perfect harmony: technique, musicality, stage presence, and emotion to replicate the brilliance and energy of the successful rocket launch rather than the one that fizzles and flares out. When I hear Charles shout out “delicious!” or “I’ll buy that!” I know that I have succeeded, and I race back to the corner to try it one more time.
Ballet for me is truly an addiction, a constant quest for perfection, an expression of my soul, and the rush that is associated with the elusive moments of dance that I have come to crave and identify as “being alive.”
Closing Words From Charles
And so, there you have it! These are wonderful and inspiring words from some of our adult students who love to dance. If you ever wanted to begin learning ballet, I guarantee that you can still learn to dance ballet beautifully, no matter your age. We will teach you! (Though we can’t guarantee that you will become the next principal dancer of the New York City Ballet or American Ballet Theatre.) Dance is a language, and ballet has a very specific vocabulary from which you can learn on many levels — from the intellectual, to the purely kinetic.
The interesting thing about ballet is that the range in your dancing is only limited by the range of your imagination. Even if the physiological realities are most visible, think of the beauty contained in a simple gesture of a dancer’s hand in simple a port de bra. The possibilities are limitless.
At the Maple Conservatory of Dance we offer a strong adult ballet program and we care about our adult students and understand their passion to dance. We know that the dance is in all of you and our top-notch faculty has the professional background to help you bring it forth into the real world.
If you are itching for a class, today is the perfect day to begin. The journey begins with your first step.