Mia N. ’24 and Finn H. ’29, members of the Pacific Festival Ballet (PFB), the resident ballet company at the Bank of America Performing Arts Center in Thousand Oaks, performed in their film, A Holiday Angel,which was produced in lieu of the company’s annual production of Nutcracker. The film premiered on December 12 as a drive-in experience outside Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza.
Mia, who began dancing at the age of three, is in the company’s pre-professional program and performed one of the lead roles alongside professional dancers from the New York City Ballet, Cincinnati Ballet, and Broadway shows. These dancers, former members of PFB who have come home for the duration of the pandemic, were excited to be able to perform during these unusual times, and this presented Mia with the unique opportunity to watch and learn from these exceptional dancers up close.
Fourth Grader Finn started taking dance in First Grade with Viewpoint Dance teacher Gabrielle Brown, a former soloist with American Ballet Theater. She recognized his talent and enthusiasm for dance early on and encouraged him to take dance outside of school. Starting in Third Grade, he began dancing with California Dance Theater, the school affiliated with PFB. Finn’s mother, Fifth Grade teacher Vanessa Harrington, said, “He loves to dance and already dreams of performing on Broadway. To be able to work with professional dancers at his young age was amazing. He would come home from his socially-distanced rehearsals eager to try out what he had seen the older dancers do. This experience was transformational.”
As the young leads, Mia and Finn were central to the story of A Holiday Angel, which tells the tale of a family celebrating a quarantined Christmas. When a crystal angel placed on the mantle comes to life, she asks to take the children on a journey around the world on Christmas Eve. The children see beauty wherever they visit, and upon returning home, they share a message of unity and hope. Created by PFB Artistic Director Kim Maselli, the ballet is a holiday celebration for 2020.
Mia found the whole experience to be one of the silver linings of the pandemic. She said, “The professional dancers were so supportive, and I feel like the luckiest girl ever to be able to perform and bring joy at this time when so many people are struggling, and truly it is wonderful to be able to dance at all.”