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Backstage at the Ballet

For this story, we go backstage with the Los Angeles Ballet as the dancers prepare for opening night of the company's first major full-length dramatic work, "Giselle."

At the heart of Los Angeles Ballet’s production of "Giselle" are its artistic directors, the husband-and-wife team of Thordal Christensen and Colleen Neary. From performance and choreography to management and staging, they bring a combined 60-plus
years of experience and accomplishments to the company.

Christensen’s training is rooted in the Royal Danish Theater and the School of American Ballet in New York City. He has performed a vast array of roles with three world-class ballet companies. In 1999 he became artistic director for the Royal Danish
Theater, one of the youngest in the company’s history, growing the company’s success, attendance and support.

Colleen Neary’s career spans performance, teaching and staging. Trained at the School of American Ballet and Harkness House, Neary went on to become a soloist with the New York City Ballet and one of George Balanchine’s star ballerinas. She also worked
closely with Rudolf Nureyev and Maurice Bejart. In 1992 she became the Ballet Mistress and teacher for the Royal Danish Theater. She is a member of the George Balanchine Trust, where she continues to be a guardian of Balanchine’s style and choreography.

Neary and Christensen’s vision and talents led one reviewer to write: “Here is the real proof of the company’s excellence — a group of dancers so disciplined and filled with the spirit of the work. The Los Angeles Ballet’s 'Giselle' showcases the
emergence of a world-class company currently at the top of its game.”

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