The experience of training in classical ballet often has a profound and lasting effect in the lives of dancers, though many ultimately pursue careers outside the dance world.
That’s the message behind Westside School of Ballet’s new “Dance Talks” series, featuring a lineup of successful alumnae who will talk to community youth about the positive impact disciplined dance training has had on their lives.
The series kicks off on Saturday, Nov. 15, with speaker Jenna Elfman, well-known for her starring role in TV series “Dharma and Greg,” and currently a guest judge for “So You Think You Can Dance.”
Elfman, who started ballet training at five years old, shares, “All of that training, it just gave me this confidence and professionalism that I take with me everywhere. As a dancer you can never take anything for granted. You always have to be working it. Ballet training sets that standard to me of being competent. So no matter who you touch you’re demonstrating competency. It makes the world better.”
Upcoming “Dance Talks” speakers include women from all walks of life — a chiropractor, an attorney, a stay-at-home mom, and a professional ballerina or two — all bringing their unique perspective on the influence of dance training in their adult and professional lives.
Allegra Clegg, Westside Ballet Executive Director, said they 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.
Clegg, while not slated to speak in the series, certainly could be. The daughter of New York City Ballet legend and Westside Ballet founder Yvonne Mounsey, Clegg grew up in ballet class and performing in Nutcrackers, before eventually going on to become a successful film producer.
Speaking from her own experience, she talks about the ways in which she believes classical arts training impacts kids.
“It gives them discipline, a sense of pride. It teaches them values they don’t yet understand but it becomes a part of them, and when they grow up, whether they become a performer, a teacher, a lawyer or a doctor, there is something in them that is different,” Clegg said. “When they enter that door and go to ballet class it’s not just a ballet class – it’s a life lesson.”
“Dance Talks” with Jenna Elfman will be held on Saturday, Nov. 15, from 6-7 pm at Westside School of Ballet, 1709 Stewart Street, Santa Monica.
The event will be followed by light refreshments. Participation is free but space is limited and an RSVP is required. Interested community members should respond to email@example.com by 3 pm Friday, Nov. 14.