Compiled by René Daveluy. Central West Ballet is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization and all contributions are tax-deductible.
Central West Ballet was founded by Mrs. Juline Schmitz in 1987 under the name Bravo! Repertory Dance Theatre, with Mrs. Gretchen Vogelzang as its Founding Artistic Director. The current name of the company was established in 1997 to reflect the growth of the company within the Central Valley. Central West Ballet was associated with Regional Dance America (RDA) during its development as a strong regional ballet company.The Company is now looking toward its future evolution. Central West Ballet is a nonprofit dance company dedicated to inspiring excellence in dance and infusing passion that fosters a high quality, financially supported, professional dance company. For more than twenty years, Central West Ballet has conducted an extensive educational approach to its Seasons. Providing educational and entertaining outreach programs to our five county service area schools, special student performances and thorough lecture demonstrations have immersed school children to the art of dance. Each year, school students are brought to the Gallo Center for the Arts to attend live performances of a full-length or repertory program, including an interactive presentation by the Artistic Director. Central West Ballet is currently expanding its programs to include additional outreach initiatives. Through our grants program, we, along with our sponsors, are able to offer tickets to underprivileged children and families.
Its founding Artistic Director, Gretchen Vogelzang, became a driving force behind many new works created or staged on the company. On this road to excellence, the Company acquired an Honor Status within the Regional Dance America Association (RDA), paving the way for Modesto to have its own recognized dance institution. On its Tenth Anniversary, the name of the company was changed to Central West Ballet to reflect the growing reach of the company in the Central Valley. In 2001, after fifteen years of fulfilling creativity and strong leadership, Gretchen Vogelzang moved to Virginia to become President of the RDA. From 2001 to 2004, Central West Ballet’s artistic directorships included tenures by Karen Burns and Coleen Patterson.
Modesto’s cultural history changed in 1987, when Juline Schmitz, Founder of Juline • School of Dance and Gretchen Vogelzang took on the pioneering job of establishing a ballet company for the city and the greater Central Valley. Already an instant hit in the community, Juline • School of Dance was in its twelfth year of existence at the inception of Bravo! Repertory Dance Theatre, geared toward giving local dance talent opportunities for advanced training and performance experience. In a short time, this exciting dance troupe quickly established itself as a distinctive youth ballet company. From its full scale Nutcracker to other full-length ballets such as The Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella and Coppélia, the company became an integral part of other community performing arts groups in Modesto.
Since 2004, René Daveluy and Leslie Ann Larson, both former professional dancers, have led Central West Ballet to new heights. As Artistic Director, Mr. Daveluy has brought to Central West Ballet a new vitality and a fresh outlook for the future. With Ms. Larson as Ballet Mistress, they have shared their resources with Modesto’s community to further the Company's artistic growth on the dance scene and attracting a growing number of key professionals in the business, suggesting the establishment of Central West Ballet as a new company on the national circuit. In March 2006, Mr. Daveluy received the Award for Excellence in Dance from the Stanislaus Arts Council. Over the last decade, Central West Ballet has continued its road to fulfillment with enhanced quality production values and increased budget operations. Central West Ballet carries great potential for the city of Modesto. As a cultural ambassador, Central West Ballet completes the identity of Modesto with a distinctive energy. The company grows along with its community, and celebrates the unique qualities of California's Central Valley.