When it comes to the arts, wielding true power goes beyond money and moxie. It means forging ahead while others doubt and stepping in when you’re most needed. Meet the Orange County players who are doing just that, and putting the region’s culture conscience first.
Football may seem an unlikely transition to a life in ballet. But Charles Maple, a leading name in ballet instruction, took up the dance genre to help strengthen a knee after he was sidelined while playing tight end. He never went back to the pigskin. “It was athletic and poetic, and I wasn’t getting knocked around like in football,” he muses. He grew up in Pasadena but joined the School of American Ballet in New York at age 18. That led to 10 years with the American Ballet Theatre, where Maple became a soloist, traveled the world, and worked with great choreographers such as Mikhail Baryshnikov and Lucia Chase. “Baryshnikov was such a charismatic performer, it naturally rubbed off on the rest of us,” Maple recalls. Then came a lengthy stint with the internationally known Ballet Basel in Switzerland. “It was an amazing life,” Maple says. “We were young, traveling to great cities, making people happy.” He returned to Southern California in 1995, and found himself in demand for master classes and teaching summer intensives at the American Ballet Theatre. When Ballet Pacifica closed in 2007, he took over its 13,000-square-foot set of studios in Irvine and opened Maple Conservatory of Dance (mapleconservatory.com) with Kathy Crade. “We started with only a few students, but now we’re up to 250,” he says. “We start them at age 4 with pre-ballet. Serious training begins at 7 or 8. It really takes about 10 years to develop a professional dancer.” Many students have gone on to join acclaimed dance troupes, including American Ballet Theatre. As for the future of Maple? “We want to be known as more than just a regional conservatory.”
View Full Article | Written by: Jerry Hicks | Photo: Angela Marklew | December 6, 2013