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Tea and beautiful ballerinas

Tippy Toes Tea for the Santa Clarita Ballet Company raised funds to benefit Performing Arts Center

Posted: June 13, 2009 8:35 p.m.
Updated: June 14, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Members of the Santa Clarita Ballet Company wait to surprise little girls with tiaras and other treats at the annual Tippy Toes Tea. The event was held at the Placerita Canyon home of Ed and Wendy Winquest.

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The spacious backyard of the Placerita Canyon home of Ed and Wendy Winquest became a fantasy land of ballerinas and family storybook characters recently as it hosted the sixth annual Tippy Toes Tea to benefit the Santa Clarita Ballet Company.

Elizabeth Teagle was among the hordes of volunteers serving tea sandwiches and desserts as well as pouring pots and pots of tea to the 200-plus guests.

"This is such a beautiful event," she said. "This event means a lot to the kids who enjoy coming year after year. The children idolize these ballerinas and one day dream of being in those shoes."

Mothers, grandmothers and little girls, in colorful spring dresses and hats that ranged from elaborate to simple, sat at linen-covered umbrella tables scattered about the patio and spacious yard.

More than 400 guests were served at the two seatings of the tea, one held at 11 a.m. and the other at 3 p.m.

The nonprofit Santa Clarita Ballet Company was founded by Corrine Glover, who serves as the executive director and Carol Guidry, the artistic director. The annual tea to benefit the Company, which was founded in 1995, has actually had several incarnations and been held on and off since the founding of the company. Previous locations include the Piru Mansion and the Conservatory Gardens at the Castaic Lake Water Agency.

The event helps fund the twice a year programming of the Company which annually stages "The Nutcracker Ballet" in December and various ballets from the Company's repertoire in its June shows.

Pam Sosa, one of the Santa Clarita Ballet Academy teachers, choreographed "Alice in Wonderland" which was performed last year. A teacher at the ballet school for four years, she was attending her third tea.

"I love to watch the children's faces," she said. "They get so excited for everything. To them it is so real."

The tea included a "best hat" contest for mothers and daughters, with prizes awarded at each tea for the best hats.

Ballerinas and others costumed as characters from "The Tales of Beatrix Potter" wandered throughout the yard interacting with the star-struck little girls.

Bloom, the fantasy character of Robbi Morgan Walberg, served as the day's emcee. She also presented a short ballet "class" for all the children.

"I am a huge fan of ballet, my daughter is a ballerina as well, and I grew up in a dancing school. So my heart is to give back to the dance world," she said. "This is such a good opportunity because I love the little ones - because the little ones, they believe. They believe in the fantasy of the whole thing. They all want to dance and they all love the ballerinas serving at the tea."

Walberg, dressed in a colorful costume with fairy wings, donates her time each year to appear at the event.

She gathered groups of little girls on stage and gave them a short lesson on a demi-plié ("that means bend your knees half-way," Walberg instructed) and port de bras ("that means the movement of your arms," she said.)

Glover said the June show, which will be held Saturday at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. at the Santa Clarita Performing Arts Center, will include new costumes for the "Tales of Beatrix Potter."

"We're restaging the ballet after all these years and redoing all the costumes," she said.

Guidry said in addition to "Tales of Beatrix Potter" the program will include "Serenade" and "G Song."

"It is going to be mixed rep program which will show the kaleidoscope of what we're capable of," she said. "We're going to present ‘Tales of Beatrix Potter' which I believe we are mounting for the fourth time. It's the first ballet I did when I joined the Santa Clarita Ballet. We embellish it every time and this year we are going to have new and better costumes.

Guidry, the principal choreographer for the Company said that "Serenade" will also have new costumes.

"I'm really happy to be revisiting that piece. I have to say I'm really enjoying it, I forgot how much I liked it," she said. "The music is so beautiful."

In addition, the Company will also preform Guidry's "G Song" which was performed last year.

"We're going to revisit ‘G Song' for the audience who may have missed it last year," Guidry said. "It's going to be a fun and eclectic program. Fun and entertaining to romantic to irreverent and modern."

The highlight of the Tippy Toes Tea was the moment when all the little girls were gathered on the lawn in front of the stage, asked to close their eyes and the ballerinas of the company emerged from the side of the stage to place tiny tiaras on the head of each girl. Colorful candy suckers were also distributed.

With the tea (or lemonade for the little girls), scones, sandwiches and desserts consumed, the dance lesson over, the ballet performances applauded and each little girl now an official ballerina with her own tiara, it was time to depart the Tippy Toes Tea fantasy.

"It is all just a sweet, sweet event," said Bloom.

For more information about the Santa Clarita Ballet Company visit www.santaclaritaballet.net.

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