Rancho Santa Fe resident espouses suicide prevention in dance video
When Kirsten Bloom Allen was 2, she and her mother were at home watching a televised production of the Tchaikovsky ballet, “Swan Lake.”
The Rancho Santa Fe resident said her mother later told her that her daughter danced through the entire production.
“She just was blown away that it held a 2-year-old’s attention for two hours straight and I was just transfixed,” Allen said. “At the age of 2, I told her I wanted to be a ballerina.”
Allen took her first dance class when she was 5.
“Being in the ballet studio felt like the most beautiful place I had ever seen,” she said. “And I’ve been in the ballet studio ever since.”
Allen estimates she has more than 2,000 performances to her credit. She has been featured as principal dancer throughout the U.S. as well as in China, Bermuda and Canada.
She has appeared at venerated venues such as the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., the Lincoln Center in New York City and the Chinese National Theatre in Beijing.
She gave a private solo performance of the classical ballet “Giselle” for President George H. W. Bush and the First Lady, Barbara Bush.
“It was an incredible experience,” she said in an interview at the Ballet Arte studio in Solana Beach where she practices daily. “It was probably my most notable performance.”
Most ballerinas who have had professional careers spanning three decades would be ready to closet their tights and tutus.
Not Allen: .“I’m 46 and proud of it, but I still feel like I’m in my 20s.
Propelled by that energy, she is exploring new creative possibilities through Arc Entertainment Company, which she founded in 2018.
“I felt like I wanted to do something that was uniquely mine with dance and do something different with the art form of ballet,” she said. “Arc Entertainment Company really was born out of a love of two things for me.
“Obviously, I love ballet and have tremendous respect for that art form, but I also really dig rock music. I thought, ‘Why not combine these two things I love, ballet and rock.’”
Featuring dance at rock concerts is one of three avenues Arc is exploring. The company also strives to make dance-oriented music videos and to merge dance with cinema in collaboration with filmmaker Jason O. Silva.
In the latter vein, Arc released a short film Nov. 15. Titled “A Reason to Fight,” the approximately 5-minute production features Allen dancing along with Tigran Sargsyan and Magnus Christoffersen to music by acclaimed rock band Disturbed.
“Our message in the video is to fight depression, addiction and hopelessness with art, and it really speaks to suicide prevention, which unfortunately around the holidays does seem to be more of an issue,” Allen said.
“We’ve created a narrative through dance in this video that tells the story of the human inner struggle. We all are fighting our fight inside, internally, but (we need) to never give up, stay strong, find that inner strength and never lose hope.”
The video can be viewed on Arc Entertainment’s website, arcentertainmentcompany.com.
Previous endeavors for Arc Entertainment include choreographed performances as the opening acts for revered rock bands, The Wallflowers and Jefferson Starship.
“It was so interesting because (the concertgoers) weren’t expecting to see ballet ... but the audience was so engaged. They really seemed to appreciate having that visual enhancement of dance on the stage.
“I had several audience members approach me at both concerts afterwards and say they had never seen ballet before and they had no idea how much they loved it.”
That, she said, is Arc’s goal: “to get dance out there, make it accessible (and) give it a new platform to shine.”
Whatever platform Allen is on, former Sacramento Ballet board President Bob Slater has no doubt it will gleam.
Slater was on the Sacramento company’s board for 10 years and served two years as president while Allen was there.
“I have always been a huge fan of the work she does,” he said. “When you see her dance, it’s magical, it’s powerful, it’s inspiring. She creates emotion beyond the dance steps. It’s absolutely magical to experience one of her performances.”
Though not a dancer himself, Slater has a heightened appreciation for the rigors of ballet, being an orthopedic surgeon.
“I spend my days helping patients to function a little bit better, and then to have the opportunity to see how spectacular these dancers are in using all the parts of their bodies, it’s really uplifting and it makes my spirit soar,” he said. “It’s amazing to think how with the right training, the right skills and the passion, one can move the skeleton so elegantly. It’s absolutely inspiring.”
Incidently, Ballet Arte operated by Sara Viale and Erlends Zieminch, does feature, in addition to the standard ballet barre and other equipment, a plastic skeleton dangling in an alcove.
Nicknamed Albert, the studio’s instructors demonstrate to their students how their limbs are supposed to function when executing a dance move. Allen said she’s been training there since 2013.
“This is the best ballet training facility in San Diego by far,” she says. “They just know what they are doing.”
She moved to Rancho Santa Fe in 2009, and took a hiatus from dancing while giving birth to her two sons, Benjamin, 9, and Nate, 7.
She spent the early years of her life in Kansas, and lived in Florida from when she was 10 to 18. She started dancing professionally at 16 with the company now known as the Orlando Ballet.
She then decided to move to California when she was 21. She was signed by the Sacramento company, where she was principal ballerina for about 15 years.
“We did about 100 shows a year, which is quite a lot of dancing,” she said. “I danced my heart out.”
She also experienced opportunities with other prominent companies, notably New York-based Suzanne Farrell Ballet.
While forging ahead with Arc Entertainment’s projects, Allen still returns occasionally to the ballet stage. She will be performing the Grande Pas de Deux from “The Nutcracker Suite” in Los Angeles at a special event Dec. 14 with Sterling Baca, a principal male dancer with the Pennsylvania Ballet.
In talking about the upcoming performance, she professed that, even with her many experiences in contemporary dance as well as her new directions in rock and cinema, she loves the romantic classics most of all.
“I would say my favorite role to dance is Juliet in Romeo and Juliet,” she said. “I love the dramatic ballets and when you’re dancing a dramatic ballet and given a dramatic role, you’re not just a dancer — you’re an actor. You have to tell a story with no words — just your body and your movements and your face and your eyes, and for me, that is my favorite part of dancing. ...
“Every time I danced Juliet, every time I danced Giselle, every time I danced Swan Lake, I would take my final position. ... In all of these end moments, I can still feel it right now, I start to cry. The moment takes over,” she said as she wiped a tear from her cheek. “It’s really a special place to be in to be able to put that out there and feel like I’m hopefully touching someone in the audience or someone is feeling what I’m feeling.”
Those moments, according to Allen, embody the communicative power of dance.
“It gives us a sense of community, it takes us to our level of humanity and it connects us by just letting us be who we are inside and allowing yourself to be vulnerable enough to feel what you feel.”
Information about Kirsten Bloom Allen and Arc Entertainment Company is available at:
YouTube: ARC Entertainment Company
Facebook: ARC Entertainment Company