The Alameda Civic Ballet was founded in 2003 by Abra Rudisill as a nonprofit charitable organization. With its debut performance of Degas Dancers, a work inspired by the paintings of French Impressionist Edgar Degas, Alameda Civic Ballet laid the foundation for establishing itself as a respected performing arts organization in Alameda and the East Bay.
The Alameda Civic Ballet’s debut performance of Degas Dancers took place in June 2003 in Alameda’s Kofman Theater. Alameda Civic Ballet was also invited to perform Degas Dancers in November 2003 at the Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco, in conjunction with The Degas Sculpture Exhibit. In December 2003, the company presented its premiere performance of Act 2 Nutcracker Excerpts. In February 2004, the company was honored to be part of the Alameda Education Foundation Mardi Gras Gala and won rave reviews for its festive Les Bons Temps (The Good Times) set to the infectious music Of the Bay Area’s Zydeco/Cajun King, Tom Rigney. The company presented Spring performances in 2004 and 2005, featuring an eclectic mix of Ballet, Modern, Salsa, Can Can, and contemporary pieces. In December 2004, the company performed Nutcracker Highlights at five sold-out shows.
In April, 2009, Alameda Civic Ballet presented The Impressionists featuring selections from Degas Dancers and Monet’s Garden, choreographed by Artistic Director Abra Rudisill and inspired by the artistry of the French Impressionists. The Company also performed Vive la Dance, a visualization of the paintings of Renoir, and the festive Le Cancan recreating the lively colorful style of Toulouse-Lautrec. The dancers included professional ballet dancers, apprentices and students of the Alameda Ballet Academy. An article by Karin Jensen of the Alameda Sun discusses her conversation with Abra Rudisill about creating this performance and working with art docents in the Alameda Unified School District to bring art to students.
December 2009 was the fifth anniversary of the full-length performance of the Nutcracker in the historic Kofman Theater in Alameda, California. Once again this glorious holiday and dance tradition entertained sold-out audiences who have come to see this as a heartwarming holiday tradition for the East Bay community. This performance built on years of success providing young dancers with valuable experience performing alongside professional dancers. These including dancers who have performed professionally with American Ballet Theatre, Ballet Hawaii, Nevada Dance Theater, Oakland Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Lines Ballet, San Francisco Opera Ballet and San Francisco Ballet, as well as aspiring students from other dance schools in the Bay Area.
Since its founding in February of 2003, the Alameda Civic Ballet continues to grow and create a strong and respected identity within the community. Our vision of creating and presenting quality and community accessible ballet performances, while providing young dancers with valuable arts education by training and performing with professional dancers.I
Artistic Director Abra Rudisill
The early years
Born in Brooklyn, New York, Ms. Rudisill began dancing at the age of six in Altoona, Pa. She was formally trained at Ballet Del Monte Sol in Santa Fe New Mexico under the direction of Louise Licklider, a former New York City Ballet dancer. At the age of 16, after working with guest teachers Alexander Minz, Anna Marie and David Holmes, she decided on a career as a professional dancer with the encouragement of her teachers.
After moving to San Francisco and spending a brief time at San Francisco Ballet School, she joined the San Francisco Dance Theater under the direction of Penelope Johnson and Jody White, where a creative and supportive confluence of teachers, choreographers and dancers influenced her burgeoning artistry. She then won a scholarship to the Joffrey Ballet Summer Program in San Antonio, Texas and later traveled to New York City where she studied with Robert Denvers and David Howard.
Beginning a career in ballet
While in New York, she was invited by Starr Danias and Douglas Wassell to join the Pavlova Celebration, a company dedicated to the performance of works choreographed on and for Anna Pavlova. Touring nationally and internationally with the company, she had the opportunity to work with Irene Fokine, Ruth Page, Alexander Gudunov, and Clark Tippet.
A move to the Bay and Oakland Ballet
In 1982, at the invitation of artistic director Ronn Guidi, Ms. Rudisill joined Oakland Ballet. With the support and tutelage of Mr. Guidi, Howard Sayette, and Betsy Erickson, Abra became a prima ballerina of the company. She was blessed with an opportunity to dance in a unique repertoire that included ballets by John Butler, Lew Christensen, Agnes De Mille, Michel Fokine, Frederic Franklin, Kurt Joos, Eugene Loring, Jose Limon, Leonide Massine, Bronislava Nijinska, May O’Donnel, Anna Sokolov, Anthony Tudor, and Charles Weidman.
In addition to having many roles created for her by Mr. Guidi, her favorite being Juliet which earned the accolades of “world class Juliet” and “the definitive Juliet” by critics! , Abra has also enjoyed working with contemporary and modern choreographers Mario Alonso, Carlos Carvajal, Val Canaparoli, Remy Charlip, Betsy Erickson, Emily Keeler, Alonzo King and Michael Lowe.
In 1998, Ms. Rudisill was nominated for an Izzie Award in Outstanding Achievement in Individual Performance for her role as Caroline in Anthony Tudor’s Lilac Garden. In 2002 Abra retired from Oakland Ballet after serving twenty years as a principal ballerina and ballet mistress. Ms. Rudisill was presented with a Shining Stars in the Arts Award for excellence in dance performance, scholarship programs, and mentoring youth by the Alameda City Arts Council in May of 2004.