Media City Ballet Presents ‘An Evening of Khachaturian’

Wednesday, July 16, 2008; Posted: 2:46 PM – by BWW News Desk

Media City Ballet, Natasha Middleton, Artistic Director, will present “An Evening of Khachaturian:  The Composer and His Ballets,” featuring Principal Dancers, Arsen Serobian, Gabrielle Palmatier, Amara Baptist, Edgar Nikolyan, Felicia Guzman, Ellen Rosa and Stephen Nelson, along with Soloists and Corps Dancers from Media City Ballet.  Jenkyns Pelaez will appear as a Guest Artist.  Actress Elmarie Wendel will produce the show.  The performance will be presented at the Alex Theatre; 216 North Brand Boulevard; Glendale, CA  91203 on Saturday, August 16, 2008 at 7:30 p.m.

Natasha Middleton, along with Ruben Tonoyan, Associate Director and Ballet Master for Media City Ballet, will co-direct the performance which will feature selections from Gayaneh, Spartacus and Masquerade, in celebration of the late much loved iconic Armenian composer, Aram Khachaturian.  This production is dedicated to philanthropist Mrs. May Hannon.

Composer Aram Khachaturian is author of the worldwide known ballets Gayane and Spartacus and of the symphonic suite, Masquerade.  The creation of these pieces not only raised Armenian national ballet to the world level, but also noticeably enriched the treasure house of the world musical-dramatic art.  Khachaturian’s music is noted for its modal, harmonic, melodic and orchestral generosity, all of which are connected with a broad gamma of thoughts and feelings in his scores.

Gayane means happiness and is a celebration of life events in which composer Aram Khachaturian wanted the folk songs and dancing melodies to be integrated and inseparable from the whole of the ballet. Gayane is the story of a young Armenian woman whose patriotic convictions are in conflict with her personal feelings upon discovering her husband has committed treason. The Gayane score includes the famous Saber Dance.  The late filmmaker Stanley Kubrick used the Adagio from Gayane for his film, 2001: A Space Odyssey. Likewise, filmmaker Joel Coen used music from Gayane in his film, The Hudsucker Proxy.

The well-known tale of Spartacus is written in modern language, with application of contemporary methods of the musical-theatre form.  The main characters in the ballet are represented with specific and repeated musical themes.  The storyline concerns the ultimately unsuccessful revolt of the slaves led by Spartacus, a Thracian slave and gladiator, against the Roman Empire in the years 73 – 71 BC.  Music from Khachaturian’s Spartacus was most recently heard in the film, Ice Age:  The Meltdown.

Masquerade was written for the 25th anniversary of the Russian Revolution.  It is a symphonic suite in the tradition of lavish classical Russian music.  Natasha Middleton will stage the piece to enhance the fantasy and put a modern face on this elaborate party, featuring eccentric costuming.  The plot concerns a missing bracelet and a woman named Nina who is falsely accused of giving the bracelet to Prince Zvezditch,  As a result, Nina’s husband, who thinks she is cheating on him, poisons her at the end of the ballet, only to realize she was innocent.  The bracelet had actually been stolen by the Baroness and given to the Prince, who later gave it back to Nina.  Natasha Middleton said:  “Theatergoers who enjoy Phantom of the Opera, will enjoy Masquerade, as there are similarities in style.”

This production is sponsored in part by the generous support of The Frank & Rigmor Peloso Trust Fund, The James A. Doolittle Foundation, Macy*s, Los Angeles County Arts Commission, Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael Antonovich, The Alex Theatre, Glendale News-Press, Burbank Leader, Mrs. May Hannon, The William H. Hannon Foundation and

Tickets are $20.00, $38.00 and $48.00 each and may be purchased online at or, or by calling  at 818-249-1428 or the Alex Box Office at 818-243-ALEX (2539).  Discounts are available for Groups of 15 or more, Seniors, Students and Children under 12.  For information on Discounted Family Packs and Group Sales, please call the Alex Theatre at 818-243-7700, ext. 216. For further information about Media City Ballet, please visit the websites, and .

Principal roles will be danced by Arsen Serobian (of North Hollywood who will dance the title role in Spartacus); Gabrielle Palmatier (of Hermosa Beach who will dance the role of Aegina in Spartacus); Amara Baptist (of Sunland who will dance the title role in Gayane); Edgar Nikolyan (of Granada Hills who will dance the role of Armen in Gayane); Felicia Guzman (of Reseda who will dance the role of Nune in Gayane); Ellen Rosa (of Los Angeles who will dance the role of Nina in Masquerade) and Stephen Nelson (of Hollywood who will dance the role of Prince Zvezditch in Masquerade).  Guest Artist, Jenkyns Pelaez, (of Oakland, CA) will appear as Crassus in Spartacus.

Other members of the cast of the show will include:  Rozanna Avetisyan (of Glendale); Mary Bankson (of Toluca Lake); Lauren Farrell (of North Hollywood); Alexander Fost (of Alhambra); Robson Tadeu dos Santos Freire (of Venice); Kristine Gregorian (of Hollywood); Philippe Leipzig (of Studio City); Moses Navarro (of Burbank); Kevin Nazarian (of Glendale); Jessica Strobel (of Granada Hills); Andee Tims (of Studio City); and Tina Yedgarian (of La Crescenta).

Natasha Middleton (Artistic Director/Choreographer, Media City Ballet) danced as a Prima Ballerina with the Pacific Ballet Theatre and was a member of the Joffrey II Ballet Company in New York City, before taking on the responsibilities of Artistic Director of Burbank-based Media City Ballet.  Her grandmother, Elena Wortova, was a Soloist in the original Ballet Russe, which included other legendary dancers like George Balanchine, and Vaslav Nijinsky. Middleton’s father, Andrei Tremaine, was a Principal Dancer with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo.  Natasha Middleton studied under the direction of her father and one of the Bolshoi Ballet’s original ballerinas, Alexandra Baldina Kozlov, as well as with David Howard, Patricia Standard in Los Angeles, Rosella Hightower in France, and Stella Mann in London.  Middleton is also the Owner/Director of the Media Dance Centre, located in the Media Village in Burbank.  She recently choreographed the upcoming motion picture, HangingOutHookingUpFallingInLove, written and directed by Barra Grant, which features numerous members of Media City Ballet Company.  Middleton is a resident of Burbank, CA.

Ruben Tonoyan (Associate Director and Ballet Master for Media City Ballet and Choreographer) was a Soloist with the Armenian National Opera Ballet for 23 years.  He began his training at the age of eight with the Armenian National Academy of Ballet.  He continued his training at the Kirov Ballet School and the Vaganova Academy in St. Petersburg, Russia.  After graduation, he returned to his native Armenia where he danced numerous ballets, including the leading role in Khachaturian’s Gayane.  He has since toured around the world performing in such ballets as Giselle, Carmen, Swan Lake, Othello and The Nutcracker.  He has also performed with the National TV Contemporary Ballet for about 10 years.  Tonoyan is a resident of Glendale, CA.

Aram Khachaturian (Composer) was a Soviet-Armenian composer whose works were often influenced by Armenian folk music.  He was born on June 6, 1903 in Tbilisi, Georgia, Imperial Russia to a poor Armenian family. Although Khachaturian had almost no musical education, he showed such great talent that he was admitted to the Gnessin Institute where he studied cello, and in 1925, he entered composition class there.  By 1929, he transferred to the Moscow Conservatory where he studied under Nikolai Myaskovsky.  In the 1930s he married the composer Nina Makarova.  By 1951, he became a professor at the Gnessin State Musical and Pedagogical Institute and the Moscow Conservatory.  Aram Khachaturian, along with composers Sergei Prokofiev and Dmitri Shostakovich, became known as the so-called “titans” of Soviet music, each enjoying worldwide reputations as some of the leading composers of the 20th century.  Aside from his ballets, Khachaturian was a prolific composer of a wide variety of music, including orchestral works, vocal scores, concertos and chamber music, to name a few.  He died on May 1, 1978 in Moscow.