New World Ballet hosts dance fest with international flavor
Since 2012, when former Dance Theatre of Harlem performer Victor Temple moved his New World Ballet company and school from Arcata to Santa Rosa, he has sought opportunities to show off his students’ talents.
This Sunday, he steps up their exposure with “Dancing at Dusk,” a dance festival with an international flavor, on the south lawn at Spreckels Performing Arts Center in Rohnert Park.
“We’ve invited dance groups from all over to represent different kinds of music,” Temple said. “I got the best acts I know of to come together and perform. These are all people I’ve worked with. A lot of them haven’t performed in two years.”
The event will feature a variety of international styles by different choreographers, including Afro Brazilian by Dandha Da Hora, West African by Alseny Soumah, Cuban salsa and bachata by Manuel Suarez and classical and contemporary dance by Temple.
Temple’s 12-dancer New World Ballet group will perform, and the guest choreographers will bring their own dancers, too, he said. The opening ceremonies for the evening will spotlight Native American Pomo dancers.
“We’re getting rid of the stereotypes of what classical ballet should be,” Temple said. “We’re starting to see more diversity in dance.”
At the outdoor event, visitors also are invited to dance to live music by SambaDa. Dinner will be catered by Sally Tomatoes and is included in the ticket price. Part festival, part fundraiser, the event even includes a silent auction.
Visitors are advised to abide by current health department guidelines for masking and social distancing at the event. Hand sanitizer will be available.
After the long process of establishing the New World Ballet school, Temple aims to build a local audience for performances.
“We’ve had about 1,200 students go through our school in the past nine years. We’ve never turned anyone away for lack of payment,” Temple said.
The festival will feature dancer Teryn Trent, 21, of Santa Rosa, who graduated from Santa Rosa High School in 2017 and this year graduated from Butler University in Indianapolis, Indiana.
“When he came to me, he was 14,” Temple said of Trent. “As a high school student, he wasn’t doing well. Then he started studying with me and he started performing. His grades improved, and he got into Butler.”
Temple, 50, has lived his own success story. After studying at the Chicago City Ballet School, he performed with the Dance Theatre of Harlem for four years, then was invited to China to choreograph and teach contemporary ballet and hip-hop.
After four years in China, Temple returned to the U.S. and performed with the Oakland Ballet for three years. While there, he made a guest appearance with the New World Ballet in Arcata. When the director retired in 2005, Temple took over the company.
“Classical ballet, when done properly, is very difficult,” Temple said. “I let my students know that if they can do this, they do anything. This training gives kids a sense of drive, confidence and goals.”
You can reach Staff Writer Dan Taylor at firstname.lastname@example.org or 707-521-5243. On Twitter @danarts.
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