Leslie Ann Larson is Principal Ballet Mistress of Central West Ballet's. Following a fulfilling career with two main ballet companies, the Oakland Ballet (Under Director Ronn Guidi) and Ballet West (Under Directors John Hart and Jonas Kåge), Larson has taken to the important position of Ballet Mistress with an ease reminiscent of the greatest names in the business. The responsibilities of Ballet Masters in all ballet companies are simply put, the difference between success or failure. A Ballet Master is the second in command and is closest to the artists of the Company. Larson is the perfect example of genuine leadership, capable of bringing entire programs to the stage. The expertise of Larson's technical knowledge and abilities make her a ballet company's greatest asset.
Leslie Ann Larson is currently Ballet Mistress for Central West Ballet. Ms. Larson’s versatility has enabled Central West Ballet to reach high professional standards for its status in California’s Central Valley. Ms. Larson has the keen ability to bring to fulfillment any full-length ballet or contemporary work to the stage. This includes such ballets as The Sleeping Beauty, Romeo & Juliet, Peter Pan, Cinderella, Les Sylphides, The Nutcracker, Coppélia, Swan Lake Act II, the Scherzo and Pas de Deux from Ashton’s The Dream, a new version of The Red Shoes, the Grand Pas Classique, and other works such as Val Caniparoli's Violin, and René Daveluy's Romancing the Stage, 1001 Nights, Existence, House of Folk, Of Faeries and Elves, A Ballet for Marie, Festive Overture, Canvas Emotions and Nature’s Rite.
Born in Oregon, Leslie Ann Larson received her early dance training in Medford from Mary Margaret Mullen. She then trained at The Dance Laboratory Seattle, Washington under Fleming Halby of the Royal Danish Ballet and Charles Bennett of the American Ballet Theatre. She was also mentored by the great Flamenco Artist Sara De Luis. She then continued her training at The Joffrey Ballet School in New York under Alumni Francesca Corkle and Trinette Singleton. In 1985, Ms. Larson joined the Oakland Ballet under the direction of Ronn Guidi. Ms. Larson established herself as a strong performer in such ballets as Leonide Massine’s La Boutique Fantasque, Antony Tudor’s The Lilac Garden, Agnes De Mille’s Fall River Legend, Kurt Joos’ The Green Table, as well as Bronislava Nijinska’s Les Noces and Les Biches. In 1989, Ms. Larson joined Ballet West in Salt Lake City under the direction of John Hart CBE and under Jonas Kåge. In her 15 years with Ballet West, Leslie Ann Larson made her mark in roles such as the Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker, as the Lead in Antony Tudor’s The Leaves are Fading, as Princess Florine in the Blue Bird pas de deux from The Sleeping Beauty, as The First Sylph in Peter Schaufuss’ La Sylphide, as Adele in Ronald Hynd’s Rosalinda and as a Principal in Balanchine’s Who Cares? and in the 2nd theme pas de deux from The Four Temperaments. She has also danced Lead roles in the best of the contemporary repertoire, most notably in Hans Van Manen’s Polish Pieces, Val Caniparoli’s Lambarena and Book of Alleged Dances, Christopher Bruce’s Ghost Dances, William Forsythe’s ... in the middle, somewhat elevated and as the Roasted Swan in John Butler’s Carmina Burana.
Leslie Ann Larson is among the very best of the new generation of Ballet Mistresses in the business. A consummate professional, she is widely recognized by her peers for her rock solid experience in getting any show up to the highest standards and performance ready quality. Her professionalism and solid integrity makes her an invaluable part of any size ballet company and an indispensable second in command for an Artistic Director. In her five years with Central West Ballet, Ms. Larson has enabled the company to reach true professionalism and make this young talented company rival many long established ballet companies in classical and contemporary dance. Her resources and knowledge of every aspect of a ballet company’s daily work make her the very best choice in team work and leadership.
An American Master
Central West Ballet is proud to be presenting works by renowned American choreographer Val Caniparoli for its Creations program. A prolific artist, Val Caniparoli continues to be an original creative presence on the American dance scene. His capacity for introspective movement is just one side of his broad range in choreography. Decades of successful exploration in the field places Val Caniparoli among the American Masters of 21st Century choreography. "Val has a unique ability to create his works with the craftsmanship of classic choreographers in dance history," says Artistic Director René Daveluy, "that is why he is a true American Master". Daveluy says that this quality not only shows in the finished product, but in the studio process as well.
Val Caniparoli’s versatility has made him one of the most sought after American choreographers in the United States and abroad.He has contributed to the repertories of more than thirty-five dance companies, including Pacific Northwest Ballet, Boston Ballet, Northern Ballet Theatre, Pennsylvania Ballet, Royal Winnipeg Ballet, Ballet West (Resident Choreographer 1993-97), Washington Ballet, Israel Ballet, Cincinnati Ballet, Singapore Dance Theatre, Atlanta Ballet, State Theatre Ballet of South Africa and Tulsa Ballet, where he has been resident choreographer since 2001. Val Caniparoli is most closely associated with San Francisco Ballet, his artistic home for over thirty years.
Caniparoli began his career under the artistic directorship of Lew Christensen, and in the 1980s was appointed resident choreographer of San Francisco Ballet. He continues to choreograph for the company under Artistic Director Helgi Tomasson. Caniparoli has created a body of work that is rooted in classicism but influenced by all forms of movement.His extensive knowledge and appreciation of music is reflected in the range of composers that have inspired his choreography: Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion (Béla Bartók), Gustav’s Rooster (Hoven Droven), The Bridge (Dmitri Shostakovich), boink! (Juan Garcia Esquivel), Aria (George Frederic Handel), Open Veins (Robert Moran), Prawn watching (MichaelNyman), Torque (Michael Torke), Jaybird Lounge (Uri Caine), Hamlet and Ophelia, Pas de Deux (Bohuslav Martinu), Bird’s Nest (Charlie Parker), Death of a Moth (Carlos Surinach), Going for Baroque (Antonio Vivaldi), Aquilarco (Giovanni Sollima), Book of Alleged Dances (John Adams), Aubade (Francis Poulenc), Slow (Graham Fitkin), Djangology (Django Reinhardt), Vivace (Franz Schubert), and his signature work, Lambarena (Johann Sebastian Bach and traditional African rhythms and music), which is performed by 16 companies and has become an international sensation. His latest work for the San Francisco Ballet, Ibsen's House, is a profound contemporary ballet on Henrik Ibsen's plays. Lady of the Camellias, choreographed in 1994 and co-produced by Ballet Florida and Ballet West, was Caniparoli’s first full-length work. He has also choreographed The Nutcracker (2001) for Cincinnati Ballet and for Louisville Ballet (2009), as well as A Cinderella Story, danced to themes by Richard Rodgers, for Royal Winnipeg Ballet (2004).
The recipient of ten grants for choreography from the National Endowment for the Arts, Caniparoli was also awarded an artist fellowship from the California Arts Council in 1991. He has twice received the Choo-San Goh Award from the Choo-San Goh and H. Robert Magee Foundation: in 1994 for Lambarena, choreographed for San Francisco Ballet, and in 1997 for Open Veins, created for Atlanta Ballet. Lambarena was also nominated for the Benois de la Danse Award from the International Dance Association at a gala at the National Theater of Warsaw, Poland, in 1997. Dance Bay Area acknowledged Caniparoli’s contributions to the local dance scene with an Isadora Duncan Award (or Izzy - and twice for Outstanding Choreography) for Sustained Achievement in 1996. He was also honored to have been selected to choreograph a pas de deux for Evelyn Hart and Rex Harrington for the Royal Jubilee Gala for Queen Elizabeth in Toronto. Born in Renton, Washington, Caniparoli opted for a professional dance career after studying music and theatre at Washington State University. In 1972, he received a Ford Foundation Scholarship to attend San Francisco Ballet School. He performed with San Francisco Opera Ballet before joining San Francisco Ballet in 1973. He continues to perform with the company as a principal character dancer.
RENÉ DAVELUY ~ ARTISTIC DIRECTOR