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For photos and interviews: Contact Elizabeth Farmen (714) 962-5440


International Ballet Stars Dance in Festival Ballet Theatre’s The Nutcracker

Create holiday memories for your family by sharing the magic of the cherished classic, The Nutcracker.

Fountain Valley, CA (November 1, 2018) — Celebrating 30 years of artistic excellence, Festival Ballet Theatre (FBT), Orange County’s resident professional ballet company, will present the family favorite production of The Nutcracker, December 8 – 24, 2018 at the Irvine Barclay Theatre in Irvine, California.

Festival Ballet Theatre’s family-friendly, breathtaking production features superb colorful scenery and dazzling costumes, which make this age-old tradition sparkle like new. Be swept away by Tchaikovsky’s iconic score as the Sugar Plum Fairy, our heroine Clara, dancing toys, mischievous mice, sparkling snowflakes, waltzing flowers and a cast of hundreds take you on a magical journey to mystical lands. This full-length traditional production is choreographed and directed by Festival Ballet Theatre’s Artistic Director, Salwa Rizkalla, and features world- renowned guest artists, FBT’s professional company dancers, and exceptional young talent from across the Southland.

The beautiful Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier are a highlight of Clara’s adventure – FBT’s spectacular guest artists. The beautiful Sugar Plum Fairy will be danced by: Tara Ghassemieh (Festival Ballet Theatre), Maria Kochetkova (former San Francisco Ballet), Sara Mearns (New York City Ballet), Teresa Reichlen (New York City Ballet) and Beckanne Sisk (Ballet West). The handsome Cavalier will be danced by: Jared Angle (New York City Ballet), Fabrice Calmels (Joffrey Ballet), Vitor Luiz (San Francisco Ballet) and Chase O’Connell (Ballet West).

Festival Ballet Theatre’s holiday celebration The Nutcracker is made even more magical with sets and costumes by Simon Pastukh and Galina Solovyeva.

Esteemed Guest Artists And Performance Dates: Teresa Reichlen – New York City Ballet Fabrice Calmels – Joffrey Ballet Saturday, December 8, 2018 @ 2:00 PM Saturday, December 8, 2018 @ 7:00 PM Sunday, December 9, 2018 @ 1:00 PM

Tara Ghassemieh – Festival Ballet Theatre Company Dancer Vitor Luiz – San Francisco Ballet Friday, December 14, 2018 @ 7:00 PM

Maria Kochetkova – Former San Francisco Ballet Vitor Luiz – San Francisco Ballet Saturday, December 15, 2018 @ 2:00 PM Saturday, December 15, 2018 @ 7:00 PM Sunday, December 16, 2018 @ 1:00 PM Sunday, December 16, 2018 @ 6:00 PM

PAGE_BREAK: PageBreakBeckanne Sisk – Ballet West Chase O’Connell – Ballet West Friday, December 21, 2018 @ 2:00 PM Friday, December 21, 2018 @ 7:00 PM Saturday, December 22, 2018 @ 2:00 PM Saturday, December 22, 2018 @ 7:00 PM

Sara Mearns – New York City Ballet Jared Angle – New York City Ballet Sunday, December 23, 2018 @ 1:00 PM Sunday, December 23, 2018 @ 6:00 PM Monday, December 24, 2018 @ 11:00 AM

Please note: Guest artists may be subject to change

Tickets: $45 – $60

Nutcracker Tea Party

Nutcracker attendees may purchase in addition to their Nutcracker tickets a very special seasonal treat; The Nutcracker Tea Party. While adults sip a glass of champagne, children will be gathered to listen to the story of The Nutcracker and be visited by some of the characters from the ballet. The elegant sit-down tea will be prepared by Chef Laurent of White House Catering and include delicious finger sandwiches, sweet treats, tea and lemonade. Photo opportunities and a party favor are included for each guest. Please check the website for the Nutcracker Tea Party times.

Nutcracker Tea Party Cost: Adults & Seniors – additional $30 Students & Children Under 21 – additional $25


For Calendar Section

Who: Festival Ballet Theatre

What: The Nutcracker

Saturday, December 8 at 2:00pm; 7:00pm
Sunday, December 9 at 1:00pm
Friday, December 14 at 7:00pm
Saturday, December 15 at 2:00pm; 7:00pm
Sunday, December 16 at 1:00pm; 6:00pm
Friday, December 21 at 2:00pm; 7:00pm
Saturday, December 22 at 2:00pm; 7:00pm
Sunday, December 23 at 1:00pm; 6:00pm
Monday, December 24 at 11:00am

Nutcracker Tickets: $45 – $60 and can be purchased at or by calling 949.854.4646 x1.; Nutcracker Tea Party: $25 – $30 additional

Related Events

Nutcracker Luncheon Fundraiser Sunday, December 2nd at 11:00 am Where: Waterfront Hilton Beach Resort in Huntington Beach, California. For information on tickets and events around The Nutcracker, please visit

Nutcracker Outreach Events Throughout November and December, Festival Ballet Theatre will be collaborating to present community Nutcracker holiday events with the following organizations: Arts Teach Dawson Cole, Laguna Beach Boys & Girls Club Newport Beach Library Pacific Symphony Orchestra Pretend City

About Festival Ballet Theatre (FBT) Festival Ballet Theatre is a nonprofit organization founded in 1988 by Salwa Rizkalla. Its mission is to enrich Orange County’s artistic and economic vitality, to inspire love and appreciation for dance, and to invigorate ballet by:

• Presenting a season of exhilarating classical and contemporary performances,

• Providing a nurturing environment for dancers and choreographers,

• Offering stimulating educational outreach programs. For more information, visit

About Salwa Rizkalla
Artistic Director Artistic Director Salwa Rizkalla has contributed to the Orange County community for more than 30 years by presenting excellence in dance performance through Festival Ballet Theatre and providing top-tier classical ballet training at Southland Ballet Academy.

During her professional dancing career, Ms. Rizkalla graced the stage in leading roles in well-known classical ballets as well as contemporary pieces. She had the privilege of working under the direction of world-renowned choreographers Leonid Lavrovsky and Serge Lifar. As a young dancer, Ms. Rizkalla trained in the Vaganova method and studied with Russian ballet masters. As the culmination of her training, Ms. Rizkalla completed a Bachelor of Arts degree in Ballet Pedagogy. She established Southland Ballet Academy in 1983 and debuted Festival Ballet Theatre in 1988. In addition to teaching and directing, Ms. Rizkalla was a faculty member of several area institutions.

Many arts organizations have recognized her service. The Orange County Music and Arts Administrators and Orange County Performing Arts Center jointly presented her the Orange County Arts Educator of the Year Award for Secondary Dance (2003); Youth America Grand Prix awarded Ms. Rizkalla Outstanding Teacher accolades since its inception; and Arts Orange County recognized Ms. Rizkalla with the Helena Modjeska Cultural Legacy Award (2014). Ms. Rizkalla was named one of OC’s 100 Most Influential in 2017 by the OC Register.

Ms. Rizkalla has been honored to impact the lives of hundreds of students and their families through her teaching. She is proud to be a dedicated educator, an energetic promoter of the arts, and an active participant in the cultural life of her community.



Elizabeth Farmen 714.309.1280

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