Formerly Bravo! Repertory Dance Theatre, Central West Ballet has inspired generations of dancers since 1987. A jewel of California’s Central Valley and resident company of the Gallo Center for the Arts in Modesto, Central West Ballet is a full service ballet company producing complete yearly seasons, including the major classical full lengths in the repertoire. The Company also performs contemporary neoclassical dance programs and story ballets, which has included renowned chreographers Val Caniparoli, Ronn Guidi and George Balanchine. The Central West Ballet Academy provides solid dance syllabi for young students and offers a training track towards company membership.
A resident company of the Gallo Center for the Arts in Modesto, California, Central West Ballet is an exciting company of versatile dancers that produces yearound performances, reaching a large population in California's Central Valley. Established in 1987 with Gretchen L. Vogelzang as its founding Artistic DIrector, the company was subsequently guided under the tenures the Artistic Directors Karen Burns, Bill Lark and Coleen Patterson. Since 2004, Artistic Director René Daveluy and Ballet Mistress Leslie Ann Larson have led the way. Under their leadership, 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 and popular story ballets such as Peter Pan, Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Dracula and Frankenstein. The Company has also 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), offer serious minded students opportunities to train with an eye towards performance. Central West Ballet believes in the importance of educational outreach programs to expose everyone to the arts. Since 2018, Executive Director Karin Reenstierna has developped and diversified Central West Ballet's outreach programs and Academy operations to include Sensory dance classes for children on the autism spectrum, as well as performances for the deaf and hard of hearing community and special Nutcracker Sensory access performances. Reenstierna has also worked on several important State and National grants to expand CWB's productions and operations.
Modesto’s cultural history changed in 1987, when Juline Schmitz, Gretchen L. Vogelzang and Debbie Bertucci established 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. Founding Artistic Director, Gretchen L. Vogelzang, became the driving force behind many new works created or staged on the company. Under her artistic leadership, the company went 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. 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 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.