Home #Hwoodtimes Love, Lust & Betrayal – The Pacific Ballet Dance Theatre brings its...

Love, Lust & Betrayal – The Pacific Ballet Dance Theatre brings its adaptation of Carmen to the Southern California Stage.

Photo 1 - (l to r) Grigori Arakelyan as Don José and Elen Harutyunyan as Carmen CARMEN ACT 1 TAVERN PASTIA - (Photo: Cheryl Mann)

By Erica Meadows & Rob Steiner

Thousand Oaks, CA (The Hollywood Times) 9/26/18 – The Pacific Ballet Dance Theatre under the direction of Natasha Middleton kicked off its 17th season with a dynamic & sensual rendition of Bizet’s Carmen.

(l to r) Gregori Arakelyan (Don José) and Elen Harutyunyan (Carmen) – (Photo: Cheryl Mann)

Elen Harutyunyan plays the flirtatious & mercurial Carmen with effortless movements of seduction & grace, embodying the woman that no man could resist. The pas de deuxs with her suitors were moments to get lost in, that she complemented with her technique & projection. Carmen herself is a force of beauty, poise & femme fatale and Harutyunyan captures all of this in her performance.

Carmen’s suitors & cast members include Grigori Arakelyan as the smitten Don José­, Preston Swovelin as the dashing hot to trot toréador Escamillo & Alexander Fost of ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ fame as Remendado the smuggler. Highlights also include ballroom champions Nataliia & Oleg Lopareva in an exciting pas de deux of their own.

Preston Swovelin as Escamillo (Photo: Cheryl Mann)

Middleton’s ingenuity as director & choreographer began with the arrangement by Rodion Shcherdin. The orchestration was banned by the Bolshoi Ballet in the mid-60s for being too erotic, inspiring her to bring its provocative themes to the stage.  Her storytelling was enchanting & playful all at once, against the simplistic yet vibrant & colorful digital background behind them. The several group numbers with the toreadors & gypsies all had a wild frenzy of choreographed chaos that kept your senses piqued no matter which part of the stage you focused on. One particular seductive number featuring all the women in a chair dance was seamlessly woven into the fabric of classical Russian ballet & 19th century Spain with both an elegant and dominant feel.

The PBDT’s Carmen ran for three performances in Lancaster & Redondo Beach & culminated at the Thousand Oaks Civic Center on September 23rd. Be sure to check the PBDT website for upcoming works which include performances set to the music of Aram Katchaturian & his famous Sabre Dance.


Damara Titmus (Micaëla) (Photo: Cheryl Mann)

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Valerie Milano is the well-connected Senior Editor and Entertainment Critic at, a website that aggregates showbiz news curated for, and written by, insiders of the entertainment industry. (@HwoodTimes @TheHollywood.Times) Milano, whose extraordinary talents for networking in the famously tight-clad enclave of Hollywood have placed her at the center of the industry’s top red carpets and events since 1984, heads daily operations of a uniquely accessible, yet carefully targeted publication. For years, Milano sat on the board and tour coordinator of the Television Critics Association’s press tours. She has written for Communications Daily, Discover Hollywood, Hollywood Today, Television International, and Video Age International, and contributed to countless other magazines and digests. Valerie works closely with the Human Rights Campaign as a distinguished Fed Club Council Member. She also works with GLSEN, GLAAD, Outfest, NCLR, LAMBDA Legal, and DAP Health, in addition to donating both time and finances to high-profile nonprofits. She has been a member of the Los Angeles Press Club for a couple of years and looks forward to the possibility of contributing to the future success of its endeavors. Milano’s passion for meeting people extends from Los Feliz to her favorite getaway, Palm Springs. There, she is a member of the Palm Springs Museum of Art and a prominent Old Las Palmas-area patron.