New professional ballet companies don’t come along every day, so the emergence of Bay Pointe Ballet in South San Francisco is worth noting. Saul Marziali talks to Artistic Director Bruce Steivel, former director of the ballet company of the Stadtheater Bern, Hong Kong Ballet and the Universal Ballet of Korea, about the company and school
CD: How did the company and school start?
BS: Bay Pointe Ballet was conceived in April of 2013 by several dedicated members of the arts community. Its purpose is to promote family oriented entertainment to the public along with a high level of training in the school. The 32 professional dancers are primarily from the Bay Area and the faculty consists of dancers from the company along with other members of the dance community holding a degree in dance.
CD: How is the first season going?
BS: Our first performing season is a short one. We performed my production of “The Nutcracker” in December, with beautiful and elaborate sets and costumes by Russian designer Alexandre Vassiliev, and have a New Work Series to be held in June. It has been a busy year, though, with the company moving into new premises, purchasing the sets and costumes for “The Nutcracker” and opening a full array of classes. Our ticket sales for the premiere performances were well beyond our expected goal.
CD: You have an impressive looking summer workshop this year…
BS: Yes, Bay Pointe Ballet is moving ahead at a rapid pace and has several new offerings for the summer. In association with Christiana Stefanou, the ballet mistress of the Greek National Ballet we are holding a two week summer workshop with master teachers Maina Gielgud, Christiana and myself to be held in Athens, Greece. In addition to this we are holding a 4-week intensive course in our studios in South San Francisco with teachers from Greece, Russia, China, USA and Italy.
CD: These are difficult times for dance. What is the situation for ballet in San Francisco, and how are audiences?
BS: As usual, ballet is struggling all over the country. The full length story ballets continue to draw an audience but the triple bill programs are still hard to sell. Here in San Francisco we have the San Francisco Ballet, Smuin Ballet and many smaller companies all vying for the same audience. But we are lucky here in the fact the public is arts oriented and supportive of the arts. Many communities outside the metropolitan areas do not have the same support.
CD: Looking ahead, do you have a precise vision for the school and company?
BS: Yes I have a clear vision of where I would like the company to be in three years. The most important things are to be able to offer dancers a lengthy contract, increase the school population and involve the community as much as possible. I have an outreach program planned for next season and three series of performances along with the second New Works Series and a tour. The school is growing every day and we hope to have 200 students by September. Bay Pointe Ballet is striving to become a first rate regional company with the highest level of training in the school.
CD: Could you share anything about your future projects and dreams?
BS: It’s really linked to the previous answer. My dream for Bay Pointe Ballet is to be able to offer dancers a full 38-week contract with comparable union salaries, touring possibilities and a school placing its students in other professional environments and companies.
Bay Pointe Ballet’s “New Works Series” is at the Bay Pointe Ballet studios, 271 Wattis Way, South San Francisco on June 7 at 7.00pm. Tickets available via http://baypointeballet.org/season/newworks.php
For details of Bay Pointe Ballet’s school, summer intensives, open adult classes, see www.baypointeballet.org.