Pasadena Dance Theatre, like most arts organizations, is hoping to make it through the COVID-19 pandemic. To do so, the Pasadena fixture is hosting an online fundraising auction through 6 p.m. Saturday, September 5.
Donors have contributed more than 90 items, from vacation spots to designer jewelry, toys, gift cards, private dance lessons and online conversations and group classes.
“We have a lot of really great items,” said Jessamyn Vedro, an instructor and long-time dancer. “The value is up there. We have items that exceed $15,000. We have vacation homes, rentals and we’ve also ensured that almost all the items are redeemable through the end of 2021.”
Winning bidders will enjoy their purchases and knowing they helped sustain a well-loved performing arts institution.
“We’re hoping that people will be generous and recognize the value of the Pasadena Dance Theatre to the community. We do regularly host auctions as part of our fundraising efforts,” said Vedro, who is an attorney.
“We’ve done them in years past. We have done some online auctions, but they culminate in in-person gala fundraisers as well. Because of COVID, we can’t do that, really. We are focusing on trying to make the online auction a greater fundraising source this year. We don’t have that in-person event possibility anymore.”
Continuing its mission
The Pasadena Dance Theatre is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to support, foster and advance the art of dance through professional performance and educational programs.
It opened its current facility in Central Pasadena in 1997, under the artistic leadership of Cynthia Young and Laurence Blake. The facility houses Pasadena Dance Theatre’s Conservatory training program and provides rehearsal space for its professional company. Students trained in its conservatory continue to dance, choreograph and teach professionally around the world.
“We’ve had a lot of students who have had professional ballet careers,” Vedro said. “There are others who still count PDT as one of the most important aspects of their young lives, even if they didn’t go on to be dancers for their profession.”
One such person is Vedro. She trained at PDT starting at age 8 and is still involved 30 years later.
“Literally, it’s the most important organization in my life,” Vedro said. “I see that in students who are currently studying at PDT. It’s made such a huge impact on them.”
For Vedro, it instilled the confidence she needed years later to become a lawyer.
“Ballet gives you a confidence that there’s something you know that’s unique,” she said. “That isn’t something everybody knows. That is beautiful. They can’t take that away from you.”
The theater’s professional company annually hosts a production of “The Nutcracker,” as well as full-scale productions of classical ballets such as “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” “Graduation Ball” and “La Fille Mal Gardee,” and new works like Cynthia Young’s “Beauty and the Beast” and “Cinderella.”
“We have an annual ‘Nutcracker’ that has included up to 80 children every year,” Vedro said.
“We’ve done full-length performances of classical ballets as well as chamber dance performances and contemporary ballets. We do a lot of outreach into the community, too.”
For example, “The Nutcracker” offers a chance for school children in Los Angeles County to see “what’s maybe the first ballet they’ve ever seen in their lives,” she added.
“This year, we’re not able to do a live ‘Nutcracker,’” she said. “We’ve had to cancel our whole season. However, in order to provide the excitement and value to our student and professional dancers, we are planning and implementing a virtual ‘Nutcracker’ this year. We’re still working out the details at this time. It will be exciting, new, different and reimagined.”
The performance will still involve students in the conservatory—with safety measures in place. The organization has planned an outdoor production in spring 2021 of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”
“Hopefully we can have live performances with social distancing in an outdoor venue come April/May of next year,” she said.
PDT has been hosting online classes since the shutdown, so it could continue to educate students in dance.
“Everything pivoted to a Zoom environment,” Vedro said. “We offered all of our ordinary classes and put together a fully virtual summer intensive program for the conservatory that included guest teachers from the American Ballet Theater and the Houston Ballet. It was really exciting and special because we were able to get teachers who aren’t local to impart their wisdom and experience to our students.”
PDT’s students have been “real troopers” through the pandemic, Vedro said. They’ve all set up spaces in their homes to practice and hone their craft. The fall, all-virtual trimester for preprofessional adult is open and a threshold division for 3 to 7 is starting now.
“We’ve been pleased to note that these students have improved in many, many ways, notwithstanding the challenges we’re all facing,” she said. “They were all really proud of their efforts. We’re trying to put extra effort into our fundraising, so we can provide these opportunities to students who have been working so hard to push through this and not let it get them down. We want to model ourselves on their resilience.”
Pasadena Dance Theatre
For the auction, visit biddingowl.com and search for Pasadena Dance Theatre.