First Takes - Making the Pointe



Pre-schoolers through teens shimmy into their costumes and sit patiently while their hair is pulled back and spritzed to a shine. The dancers radiate exuberance and delight, even though the dress-rehearsal audience holds only a handful of curious parents. They glide across the stage, some still with an awkward step, the toddlers not yet gaining full command of their bodies to maintain the grace of the older dancers. The youngest ones giggle as they run for their costume changes.

Backstage, the dressing room is a flurry of fabric, from the deep colors of fall leaves to the pastels of spring flowers, while a sea of tights-covered legs and neatly kept hair buns bounce through. A stage-mother’s voice echoes from stage left, calling the next wave of dancers, and a new group of bright smiles takes center stage.

Desert Youth Ballet, a company that performs The Nutcracker each December with the Moscow Classical Ballet, hosts smaller performances throughout the year to support their school, owned by Valerie Mahabir. But the annual gala and performance in April are the school’s big fundraising events. Money from ticket sales covers production costs and goes into scholarship funds to supplement the education of girls and boys who would otherwise be unable to attend the prestigious school.

Under Mahabir’s vision and direction, the school has been a launching ground for dancers from the Coachella Valley for more than 15 years. With her guidance — she herself trained at the Royal Academy of Dance in London — students have gone on to dance with companies across the globe, including the American Ballet Theatre and her alma mater across the Atlantic.

Whether or not they are bound for professional careers, each student is required to show intense commitment to the art. Nights and weekends are filled with practice and the study of ballet. “It takes a total passion for what they’re doing,” Mahabir says.

As the dress rehearsal curtain goes down, the scattered audience members offer a resounding ovation.
— Samantha Comby

Desert Youth Ballet presents Nutcracker Tea Suite on Dec. 3. Call 341-0122.

Palm Springs Life

Related Articles

Palm Springs Horoscope - September 2014

Libras have been challenged over the past year to define a balance in many areas of their life. Neither manipulation nor polite nudging is working.

McCallum Theatre Presents Palm Desert International Dance Festival

On the heels of a successful first venture, the McCallum Theatre is presenting its second annual Palm Desert International Dance Festival, Nov. 6-15.

What to Do Labor Day Weekend in Greater Palm Springs

Labor Day Weekend marks the symbolic close to summer, but it's also a long weekend filled with music, food, and a host of activities in Greater Palm Springs.

"Top Rock" Commands Stage at Hard Rock Hotel Palm Springs

"Top Rock" brings a brash, rockin' musical tribute to the Hard Rock Hotel Palm Springs on Friday and Saturday nights through September.

Palm Springs Horoscope - August 2014

Just persevere through these tough times, and know that the hard way will become the right road in 2015.

Promotions + Contests

90 Days of Summer Romantic Palm Springs Getaway 2014

90 Days of Summer Romantic Palm Springs Getaway 2014

Experience the beauty, romance and excitement of the Palm Springs area when you enter to be the lucky winner of this romantic couple’s getaway
90 DAYS OF SUMMER Instagram Contest 2014

90 DAYS OF SUMMER Instagram Contest 2014

Win a fabulous Palm Springs weekend!

Win a fabulous Palm Springs weekend!

Each month, a first place winner will be selected to win a fabulous Palm Springs weekend!And, each month, three additional runners up will be selected to win a wonderful Palm Springs area Dining certificate!
2013/14 Best of the Best

2013/14 Best of the Best

Palm Springs Life’s annual Best of the Best. Readers tell us who their choice is for the “Best of the Best” of the Coachella Valley in over 40 categories.
Cartoon Caption Contest

Cartoon Caption Contest

Each month, we provide a vintage 1950’s cartoon illustrated by Alice Rovinsky. You are invited to submit a caption or vote for your favorite caption.
Enter to Win A Celebrate Dance Experience!

Enter to Win A Celebrate Dance Experience!

Enter just once for a chance to win tickets to one of the second annual Palm Desert International Dance Festival performances.