Oakland Ballet founder Ronn Guidi is back full tilt. My report in the Chronicle today:
“Ronn Guidi rises from the restaurant table, leg suddenly stretching into full d?velopp? as he recounts a rehearsal with the famous choreographer Leonide Massine.
“You see, half the dancers were doing this,” Guidi demonstrates with a sweeping arm, nearly knocking into the next table. “And half were doing this. And I said to Massine, ‘Which is it?’ And he turned to me and said, ‘Ronn, it’s not the steps. It’s the integrity behind the movement.’ ”
Guidi is somewhere between 70 and 73 years old – he says he’s lost track – but with his spry frame, wiry black hair and thick beard, he could pass for someone in his 50s. His face is wild-eyed and puckish, as it always is when he talks about the glory days of the Oakland Ballet, but today he looks especially excited. He’s about to attempt a remarkable resurrection. Forty-two years after founding the Oakland Ballet, 20 years after raising it to unlikely international repute, nine years after suddenly retiring, and seven years after watching his beloved creation begin a steady slide toward death, Guidi is bringing the Oakland Ballet back.
The resuscitation started cautiously, with four performances of his “Nutcracker” last year, danced by a swiftly assembled ensemble of Oakland Ballet alumni and other freelance dancers. But with those shows well attended and cash-flow positive, Guidi says he’s ready to go full tilt. The new Oakland Ballet Company will give its inaugural performance at the Paramount Theatre on Oct. 20, under the auspices of the Ronn Guidi Foundation for the Performing Arts.
The program will include a reconstruction of Vaslav Nijinksy’s 1912 watershed “Afternoon of a Faun,” Marc Wilde’s “Bolero” and Guidi’s own “Trois Gymnopedies” and “Carnaval d’Aix.” Then, in December, “Nutcracker” will return for six performances before touring to Lake Tahoe. All shows will feature live music from the Oakland East Bay Symphony. Rehearsals will be at the Oakland Ballet Academy, where Guidi still teaches 13 classes a week.
Twelve dancers have been hired, and further auditions will soon be announced. Chevron and Target have signed as major sponsors. The city of Oakland’s Cultural Funding Program has also pitched in on the $80,000 currently secured toward a $350,000 fundraising goal.
“I want to work in the black, no deficit spending,” Guidi says. With that caveat, he’s looking further into the future. “Nutcracker” dates have been reserved at the Paramount for 2008. Guidi plans to program smaller March shows to begin rebuilding a subscription base. His most cherished goal is a 2009 festival marking the 100th anniversary of Serge Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, the groundbreaking company whose masterpieces Guidi so lovingly brought back to life.”
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