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Mikhailovsky Ballet's Adrian Blake Mitchell Hosts 'Dance Talks' & Master Class For Westside Ballet

An alumnus of the ballet school, Mitchell offered to teach a class to support Westside Ballet's boys' ballet program.

Mikhailovsky Ballet's Adrian Blake Mitchell Hosts 'Dance Talks' & Master Class For Westside Ballet

Adrian Blake Mitchell, professional male ballet dancer at the Mikhailovsky Ballet Company, will livestream both a Master Class and also will host Westside Ballet's 'Dance Talks' series - Zooming from St. Petersburg on President's Day, Monday February 15, in honor of Black History Month and to support Westside Ballet's ongoing Crisis Relief Fund.

An alumnus of the ballet school, Mitchell offered to teach a class to support Westside Ballet's boys' ballet program--and as well to share his professional ballet journey as a part of Westside Ballet's newest installment in their 'Dance Talks' series. The Master Class will run from 9:30-10:50am on the President's Day National Holiday and will be offered at $15 for participants not currently enrolled at Westside School of Ballet. Although especially curtailed for young male dancers, Mitchell's class is open to intermediate and advanced ballet dancers of all ages and sex.

"For my Master Class, I'm very excited to be back at Westside, even virtually, to be working with the boys at the same school where I first attended an all boys class," says Mitchell. "I plan to emphasize coordination, strength and clarity of movement, a few things I found to be incredibly important as a professional dancer."

For his "Dance Talks," immediately following the Master Class at 11:10am, Mitchell will share his journey to professional life and his involvement with Westside Ballet's Diversity & Inclusion Committee. Mitchell founded a scholarship fund in his name with the new nonprofit 'Dance in Color.' His team has offered scholarships to 2 current dancers of color at Westside School of Ballet. The talk will be free with donations accepted.

Born in Texas, Mitchell began his serious ballet training at the age of 14 in Los Angeles with Yuri Grigoriev and at Westside Ballet under the direction of Yvonne Mounsey. From 2010-2012, he studied at the Houston Ballet Academy and the Gelsey Kirkland Academy in New York City where he worked with the American ballerina herself - as well as Irina Kolpakova, Vladilen Semenov, and Rinat Imaev - and received extensive acting training from Pilar Garcia.

From 2012-2014, Mitchell studied at the Ellison Ballet Professional training program under the tutelage of Edward Ellison to whom he credits much of his artistic and technical growth. In 2014 he was invited to join the graduating class of the Vaganova Academy in St. Petersburg, Russia, one of the world's oldest and most prestigious institutions. Here Mitchell performed numerous soloist roles on the stages of the Mariinsky Theatre and the Kremlin Palace and worked under the instruction of Nikolai Tsiskaridze, Farukh Ruzhimatov and Alexey Illyin.

Since 2015, Mitchell has been a member of the Mikhailovsky Ballet Company, one of the last imperial theaters of Russia. On the stage of the Mikhailovsky he has performed featured roles such as Tybalt in Romeo and Juliet, Espada in Don Quixote, and The High Brahmin in La Bayadere. He is also one of the primary interpreters of the contemporary repertoire, performing the principal role in Nacho Duato's White Darkness - as well as the principal roles in Duato's Duende, Prelude and Multiplicity in forms of Silence and Emptiness. Mitchell has also been featured in Vogue Paris, and modeled for British Designer Gareth Pugh.

From his involvement in Westside Ballet's Diversity & Inclusion Committee, Mitchell knew Westside launched a Crisis Relief Campaign, '1500 Angels,' in March of 2020, and is still needing supplemental support from alumni and community supporters and patrons of the arts -- until a post-pandemic world can support live performances and indoor dance classes. The school is still losing thousands of dollars every month. Westside Ballet is Los Angeles' oldest and most successful public ballet school, celebrating its 54th anniversary.

"I'm thrilled to be appearing on Westside's 'Dance Talks,' series, following my first masterclass at Westside Ballet," shares Mitchell. " It will be great to share some of my experiences as a professional dancer, and also to commemorate Black History Month in the midst of the colossal shifts we are seeing in the Social Justice Movement."

Westside's "Dance Talk" series first kicked off at the school's studios in November, 2014, with alumna Jenna Elfman. Ms. Clegg says: "We created the Dance Talks series to spread the message about the value of dance and other classical arts, and what that can bring to the community and especially our children."

The series moved online in Spring 2020, with esteemed alumni--such as: Tiler Peck, the renowned New York City Ballet Principal; Melissa Barak (former dancer with New York City Ballet and Artistic Director of Barak Ballet); Nicole Haskins (Smuin Contemporary Ballet); Giorgia Martelloni-Zabriskie (Dance Theatre of Harlem, Balletto di Roma); Molly Novak (Boston Ballet); Broadway star Ashley Griffin; and Abigail Simon (An American in Paris, American Ballet Theater, Joffrey Ballet)--giving talks about choreography and professional dance experiences. Associate Artistic Director, Francine Kessler Lavac, has invited several esteemed ballet influencers to the mix, such as: Jeri Gaile, also an alumna and the current Director of The Music Center Spotlight Program; Victoria Morgan, artistic director of the Cincinnati Ballet; and quantum physicist and ballerina, Dr. Merritt Moore.

Community Engagement

According to Executive Director Allegra Clegg (founder Yvonne Mounsey's daughter), engaging with the community is a priority for Westside Ballet. "Since our inception, we have offered affordable performances and donated thousands of tickets to deserving community organizations. We also offer the free 'Dance Talks' enrichment series throughout the year in which guest lecturers give informal talks on the many attributes of dance in a child's life. In the 2019-2020 academic year, prior to the pandemic, we were pleased to announce a new partnership with the Boys and Girls Club in Santa Monica where we offered ballet class as part of their after school program."

The Community Outreach program continued through the 2020-2021 (albeit unusual) school year. An open ballet class is offered to children ages 6 to 11 years old at Westside's outdoor dance studio, which commenced November 15th for an initial five week offering. The goal is to bring the joy of movement and beauty of the arts to a diverse community that has curiosity for classical ballet.

Every Holiday Season, approximately one thousand elementary grade students in the Santa Monica-Malibu and the Los Angeles Unified School districts are treated to private, abbreviated presentations of The Nutcracker. The company also offers preview performance to local Veterans and members of many charities and organizations such as: PAL (Santa Monica Police Activities League), Taking the Reins, Neighborhood Youth Association, Allies for Every Child, Vet Tix, Venice Family Clinic, Everybody Dance, A Place called Home, Community Corp of Santa Monica, Virginia Avenue Park, and Boys and Girls Clubs of Santa Monica.

Adrian Blake Mitchell's Master Class will be live on Zoom, Monday February 15th, 9:30-10:50am. Participants can sign up here: https://westsideballet.com/online-master-class-dance-talks/

Mr. Mitchell will host Westside Ballet's "Dance Talk" series following the above, on Zoom, Monday February 15th, 11:10am-12pm. Participants can participate for free via this Zoom link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/88311808793?pwd=ajVnbmM4Rk8zR3FGbGpUMjJ2ajVaZz09 (passcode: 231453)

Donations to Westside Ballet's Crisis Relief Fund: https://westsideballet.com/save-our-school/

Westside Ballet's Diversity & Inclusion Committee: https://westsideballet.com/the-company/westside-ballets-statement-on-diversity-and-inclusion/


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