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Dance Festival honors West Side Story creators

By BARBARA DIAMOND

The Dance Festival gala held May 18 at [seven-degrees] was an homage to the musical “West Side Story,” created by composer Leonard Bernstein, choreographer Jerome Robbinsand lyricist Stephen Sondheim, based on Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet.”

A sold-out crowd at “West Coast Story” was treated to an evening of dance, drama and music.

“We have the most fun gala – it’s all entertainment,” said Joy Dittberner, festival executive director. “This was our fifth gala and we are so happy it was sold out. We are no longer the best kept secret in Laguna.”

The gala is the prelude to the annual dance festival, which will be kicked off this year by Complexions Contemporary Ballet company’s one-night-only performance on October 5 of “Stardust,” a dance tribute to the late David Bowie, featuring many of the singers’ most beloved hits.

The Orange County Register

Most Influential 2016: Jodie Gates

Laguna Beach resident Jodie Gates is a former ballet star. She was a celebrated principal dancer with the Joffrey Ballet, Frankfurt Ballet and Pennsylvania Ballet. The Sacramento native also works closely with choreographer William Forsythe, setting his dances on companies around the world. Gates is an accomplished choreographer who has created more than 60 works. She founded the Laguna Dance Festival more than a decade ago.

Gates left a tenured position at UC Irvine to become the founding director of an innovative dance school at the University of Southern California. The Glorya Kaufman School of Dance, which christened its new building earlier this year, is one of the most significant and innovative dance schools in the country. Forsythe is among its distinguished faculty members.