For ever so long, Southern California has been exporting talented ballet dancers. American Ballet Theatre's Misty Copeland, New York City Ballet's Darci Kistler and Tiler Peck, San Francisco Ballet's Jennifer Stahl – they're all SoCal dancers who left to dance professionally. L.A. native Melissa Barak followed that path, training here at Yvonne Mounsey's Westside Ballet before leaving for New York and joining New York City Ballet, where she danced for nine years, honing her talents as a choreographer. But during that decade, L.A.'s ballet landscape began to change and Barak made a U-turn, leaving New York to dance with Los Angeles Ballet before launching her own contemporary Barak Ballet here. Barak Ballet debuted last year with a sold-out performance at Santa Monica's Broad Theater. The chamber company returns with a program that includes Barak's latest, set to a commissioned score by High School Musical composer David Lawrence, plus a new work from Darrell Grand Moultrie, whose powerful duet for two women was a highlight at Barak Ballet debut. The program also reprises Sentir em Nos from Frank Chaves and Barak's For Two. Opportunities such as Barak Ballet allow local ballet dancers to stay here and dance – making Melissa Barak the poster child for how times are changing for L.A. ballet dancers, for the better. Broad Stage, 1310 11th St., Santa Monica; Thu., June 19, 8 p.m.; $35-$95 (top price includes a reception). (800) 595-4849,

Thu., June 19, 8 p.m., 2014
(Expired: 06/19/14)

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