California Contemporary Ballet Overcomes Casting Obstacles to Present 14th Season of “The Snow Queen” Ballet

Los Angeles Area Dance Company Produces Original Ballet; Guest Performer from Hungary Added to Cast

Los Angeles, CA, December 12, 2011 --( The series of rehearsals for California Contemporary Ballet’s “The Snow Queen” Ballet ( have been underway for over five hours, and for Isabella Bunting of Glendale, her most challenging rehearsal of the day lays ahead of her. With flaming red hair and a presence that suggests a level of maturity well beyond her thirteen years, Bunting is about to perform one of the most challenging roles in the ballet, a delightful holiday favorite performed to sold-out audiences in Glendale for the past thirteen years. This year’s Snow Queen performances will be on December 16, 17, and 18 at the Glendale Community College Theater.

The role of Princess is normally performed by one of the professional ballerinas employed by the Company. In fact, many advanced and professional-level dancers auditioned for the coveted role this year. However, Artistic Director, Erin Holt explains, “Since this is an original ballet with new choreography, we usually teach the role to a professional just as we would to a student. Isabella is working hard and proving she can handle the challenging role. She is light and works extremely well with her partner Nick.”

Reprising the role of Prince for a second year to Isabella’s Princess is Nicholas Zerman of Altadena. He effortlessly lifts Bunting high above his head in a spin and then gently places her back onto her toes. “It’s a difficult lift, but we’ve got it,” he says with a wide grin.

As the production’s choreographer and Artistic Director, Holt has faced many challenges during the 14-year run of the ballet. Many professional dancers seek out opportunities to perform in the myriad Nutcracker productions, rather than face the challenges of learning new choreography required for an original ballet. After all, most good ballet dancers are already familiar with many sections of the Nutcracker before ever stepping into rehearsal. This certainly makes rehearsals faster for the dancer and easier for a director to produce.

However, this previous familiarity is clearly not the case for any dancer who chooses to audition for “The Snow Queen,” where all of the choreography is new and the roles unknown. Holt states “Some dancers are intimidated by the vast amount of new material they have to learn and some dancers don’t feel they have the time to dedicate to the learning process.” Still, Holt boasts that the Company gets plenty of interest from professional talent looking for new opportunities. “We offer dancers the rare opportunity to be involved with something new.”

This year joining the cast is professional dancer, Zsolt Banki recently arrived in California from Hungary, where he was a graduate of the Hungarian Dance Academy and was voted Best Hungarian Dancer in 2007. He was the lead choreographer for the popular show “So You Think You Can Dance”, which actually originated in Hungary. This season, he joins “The Snow Queen” performing the principal roles of Reindeer and the Crow. States Mr. Banki “I enjoy living in Los Angeles very much and am learning a great deal about American culture. I particularly like the California Contemporary Ballet’s version of 'The Snow Queen,' as it is a very popular story in Hungary.”

With a beautiful original musical score composed by Randall Michael Tobin and set against a beloved Hans Christian Andersen story, audiences have the chance to meet a young girl and boy with lessons to learn, exotic creatures performing aerial ballet, gymnastic gypsies, forest animals such as the Reindeer and the Crows, and magical characters such as the Enchantress and the Guardian Angel.

“The Snow Queen” by California Contemporary Ballet will be performed at Glendale Community College on Friday, December 16 at 7:30pm; Saturday, December 17 at 2:00pm and 7:30pm; and Sunday, December 18 at 2:00pm. Tickets can be purchased at Tickets purchased in advance: $25 for adults, $20 for child; tickets purchase at the door: $30 for adults, $25 for child. Group rates available. For more information, call California DanceArts 818-790-7924.

California Contemporary Ballet, ( established by Erin Holt, the company’s visionary Choreographer and Artistic Director, is one of Southern California’s burgeoning dance companies. The company is established as a professional company featuring the talent of 5-7 career dancers performing a unique brand of classical and contemporary dance works. They are a non-profit company, providing its members with the opportunity to perform an exciting repertory of innovative and original dance projects performed in concerts, theatre and festivals throughout Southern California. The company’s annual signature ballet,“The Snow Queen”, ( is a delightful winter production each December starring the career members of California Contemporary Ballet, accompanied by the California Contemporary Youth Ballet, and select dancers from the community, resulting in a cast of 60-70 dancers.

California DanceArts
Erin Holt