Centra West Ballet celebrates its 30th Anniversary this season. We are proud of each generation of dancers who have made the Company a success for three decades. Board Members, Artistic and Executive staffs and community Volunteers have supported countless young artists and we express much gratitude to all who have dedicated time and resources to achieve the dreams of many.
Central West Ballet's 2017-2018 season marks the Company's 30th Anniversary. A resident company of the Gallo Center for the Arts in Modesto, California, this exciting company of versatile dancers produces yearound performances and reaches a large population in California's Central Valley. Established in 1987 by founding Artistic Director Gretchen Vogelzang and by Juline Schmitz, founding Director of Juline School of Dance, the company was subsequently under the artistic directorships of Karen Burns, Bill Lark and Coleen Patterson. Since 2004, Artistic Director René Daveluy, Ballet Mistress Leslie Ann Larson and Executive Director Cynthia Coughlin have led the way. Under René Daveluy's directorship, Central West Ballet has produced and furthered a growing number of full-length classics, such as Romeo and Juliet, Swan Lake, Coppelia, The Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Giselle, popular story ballets such as Peter Pan and Legend of Sleepy Hollow and performed ballets by George Balanchine, Val Caniparoli and Ronn Guidi. In 2010, the company branched off and moved into its own dedicated studios on Pentecost Drive, North Modesto. Additionally, the Central West Ballet Academy (established in 2014), and CWB II (a trainee company established in 2015), offers serious minded students opportunities to train with an eye toward performance. Central West Ballet believes in the importance of educational outreach to expose all factions of our community to the arts.
Modesto’s cultural history changed in 1987, when Mrs. Juline Schmitz, Founder of Juline • School of Dance, Mrs. Gretchen Vogelzang and Mrs. Debbie Bertucci took on the pioneering job of establishing a ballet company for Modesto and the greater Central Valley. Already an instant hit in the community, Juline • School of Dance was in its twelfth year of existence at the inception of Bravo! Repertory Dance Theatre, geared toward giving local dance talent opportunities for advanced training and performance experience. In a short time, this exciting dance troupe quickly established itself as a distinctive youth ballet company. From its full scale Nutcracker to other full-length ballets such as The Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella and Coppélia, the company became an integral part of other community performing arts groups in Modesto. Its founding Artistic Director, Mrs. Gretchen Vogelzang, became the driving force behind many new works created or staged on the company. On this road to excellence, the Company acquired an Honor Status within the Regional Dance America Association (RDA), paving the way for Modesto to have its own recognized dance institution. On its Tenth Anniversary, the name of the company was changed to Central West Ballet to reflect the growing reach of the company in the Central Valley. In the early 2000s, following the passing of Mrs. Juline Schmitz, Mrs. Debbie Bertucci became the Director of Juline • School of Dance. In 2001, after fifteen years of fulfilling creativity and strong leadership, Gretchen Vogelzang moved to Virginia to become President of the RDA. From 2001 to 2004, Central West Ballet’s artistic directorships included tenures by Karen Burns and Coleen Patterson.