Diablo Ballet Celebrates 30th season with “Stars & Stripes Jubilee”

Thirty years of success as a ballet company is most decidedly something to celebrate, and this coming weekend (March 22-23) Diablo Ballet will mark this landmark anniversary with a “Stars & Stripes Jubilee” program.

Lauren Jonas, the company’s longtime artistic director and cofounder, reflected that it has taken all of those thirty years to arrive at this ideal place the company now finds itself. And, indeed, one look at this multi-faceted boutique company based in Walnut Creek, all Jonas has accomplished, you can’t help but marvel.

I’ve long been a fan of Diablo Ballet, an award-winning, internationally recognized professional dance company, committed to enriching, inspiring, and educating children and adults through the art of dance. The company offers free adaptive-dance classes through their “Dance for Parkinson’s” program. Their PEEK Outreach Programs have reached over 75,000 school children since 1995 and at-risk teenage girls and boys incarcerated in the Juvenile Justice System. This last one, I found so inspiring when I learned about it in 2016, that it prompted me to immediately establish the Classical Girl Giving Program (more on that HERE), making Diablo Ballet and its PEEK program its first recipient.

PEEK Program with Rosselyn Ramirez leading

Now, about “Stars & Stripes Jubilee,” premiering on Friday at Walnut Creek’s Lesher Center for the Arts. The program features George Balanchine’s classic ballet, Stars & Stripes, inspired by John Philip Sousa. Also on the program: Forward Thinking by former company dancer Michael Wells, performed to live music composed by Justin Levitt; Amanda Farris’ playful and jazzy Elevator Operator; Sean Kelly’s Pas de Deux from Sinuosity, and finally, the lively Pas d’Action from La Bayadère. It’s sure to be a fun show, buzzing with the great energy Diablo Ballet dancers always provide.

“Stars & Stripes,” George Balanchine. Dancers Olivia Powell & Lucas Tischler. Photo by Rosselyn Ramirez

In 1994, Diablo Ballet was established with eight dancers. They now have eighteen dancers performing in this weekend’s production, including trainees from a program launched, alongside a ballet school, in 2019. Yet another coup for the endlessly energetic Jonas. “It’s so wild that it’s been thirty years,” she mused during our conversation. “I never take it for granted.”

I asked her what might still be on her to-do list for the company, after all she’s accomplished. Her response was swift. “Buying a building, so we can have the company, school and administration all in one place.” With Jonas at the helm, who has no plans for retiring any time soon, I’ve a hunch it’s going to happen.

“Sleeping Beauty’s Wedding”, choreographed by Penny Saunders, photo by Ted Helminski

Tickets for “Stars and Stripes Jubilee” (Friday March 22 at 6pm and Saturday March 23 at 2pm) are on sale through the Lesher Center for the Arts ticket office. Purchases can be made online, by calling (925) 943-SHOW or in person at the ticket office.


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