Fountain Valley, Calif., June 7, 2016 Festival Ballet Theatre (FBT), Orange County’s resident professional ballet company, has announced its 2016-17 season. It will begin with Secret Garden on October 15 & 16, followed by The Nutcracker from December 10-24, Don Quixote on March 25 & 26, concluding with Gala of the Stars in August 2017. All of the performances will take place at the Irvine Barclay Theatre in Irvine, California.

Rizkalla commented, “We look forward to presenting three full-length productions in a season that offers a versatile program of classical and contemporary repertoire. The dramatic choreography of Los Angeles native Josie Walsh in Secret Garden will inject a modern element into this year’s season. Our version of the perennial family favorite The Nutcracker offers audiences a visually striking performance designed to evoke a holiday mood. The beloved dreamer at the center of the classic Don Quixote lends a comical note in a production full of Old World charm. We will conclude our 2016-17 season by celebrating our tenth year of bringing top international ballet luminaries to the Barclay for one magnificent showcase performance during Festival Ballet Theatre’s Gala of the Stars.”

Secret Garden, centered on the restoration of a garden and a revival of the spirit, is a story of loss, dreams, hope and transformation. Inspired by Frances Hodgson Burnett's classic novel, Secret Garden is brought to life through a riveting fusion of cutting-edge choreography by Josie Walsh, an original cinematic score by Paul Rivera, Jr. and a stunning multimedia scenic design by David Bazemore.

The holiday spectacular, The Nutcracker, is certain to create warm family memories for those who attend together to share the magic of this cherished classic. Festival Ballet Theatre’s breathtaking, family-friendly production features superb colorful scenery and dazzling costumes, which make this age-old tradition sparkle like new. The Sugar Plum Fairy, heroine Clara, and a cast of hundreds will take the audience on a magical journey to mystical lands, to the grandeur of Tchaikovsky’s iconic score. This full-length traditional production is choreographed and directed by Festival Ballet Theatre’s Artistic Director Salwa Rizkalla and features world-renowned guest artists, FBT's professional company dancers, and exceptional young talent from across the Southland.

The flavors and rhythms of old-world Spain will take the stage on March 2017 as Don Quixote recreates fiery gypsy spirit and passion and a culture of honor and chivalry. Based on Cervantes’ heroic novel and set to Ludwig Minkus' memorable score, this classic is a ballet lover's favorite. It is a must-see for any ballet lover, featuring spectacular guest artists, professional company dancers and a boisterous cast of many.

The season will conclude with the highly anticipated 10th Annual Gala of the Stars in August 2017. This event showcases international artists from some of the world’s most prestigious dance companies, along with FBT’s own accomplished resident dancers.  The gala festival provides summer intensives and master classes for up-and-coming stars, dinners and receptions with the stars of today, and one amazing evening of dance that completes this celebration of ballet.

Season Subscriptions

Special discount for Festival Ballet 2106-17 Season subscribers. Tickets are on sale now. For information, visit or call 949.854.4646 x1.

Single Tickets

Individual tickets for Festival Ballet Theatre’s 2016/17 Season are on sale now at or by calling 949.854.4646 x1.

For more information about the upcoming 2016/17 season and other events and programs, please visit



For Calendar Section

All of the performances will be by Festival Ballet Theatre and will take place at the Irvine Barclay Theatre in Irvine, California located at 4242 Campus Dr., Irvine, CA 92612.

What: Secret Garden

When: Saturday, October 15 at 7:00pm and Sunday, October 16 at 2:00pm

Tickets: $39-$45

The Nutcracker

When: Saturday, December 10 at 2:00pm; 7:00pm

            Sunday, December 11 at 1:00pm; 6:00pm

            Friday, December 16 at 7:00pm

            Saturday, December 17 at 2:00pm; 7:00pm

            Sunday, December 18 at 1:00pm; 6:00pm

            Tuesday, December 20 at 6:00pm

            Wednesday, December 21 at 6:00pm

            Thursday, December 22 at 6:00pm

            Friday, December 23 at 1:00pm; 6:00pm

            Saturday, December 24 at 11:00am

Tickets: $42-$55

Don Quixote

When: Saturday, March 25 at 7:00pm and Sunday, March 26 at 2:00pm

Tickets: $42-$55


What: 10th Annual Gala of the Stars

When: August 2017

Tickets: To be announced

Information is available at or by calling 949.854.4646 x1.

About Festival Ballet Theatre (FBT)

Festival Ballet Theatre is a nonprofit organization founded in 1988 by Salwa Rizkalla. It is dedicated to presenting works that exemplify the artistry of classical and contemporary ballet, offering cultural awareness of dance through educational programs, and nurturing a creative environment for choreographers and some of Orange County’s most talented dancers.


About Salwa Rizkalla

Artistic Director Salwa Rizkalla has served the Orange County community for over 30 years by presenting excellence in dance performance through the nonprofit Festival Ballet Theatre and providing top-tier classical ballet training at Southland Ballet Academy.

During her professional dancing career, Ms. Rizkalla graced the stage in leading roles in well-known classical ballets as well as contemporary pieces. She had the privilege of working under the direction of world-renowned choreographers Leonid Lavrovsky and Serge Lifar. As a young dancer, Ms. Rizkalla trained in the Russian Vaganova method and studied with ballet masters of the Bolshoi and the Kirov. As the culmination of her training, Ms. Rizkalla completed a Bachelor of Arts degree in Ballet Pedagogy. She established Southland Ballet Academy in 1983 and debuted Festival Ballet Theatre in 1988. In addition to teaching and directing, Ms. Rizkalla was a faculty member of several area institutions.

Ms. Rizkalla’s contributions have been recognized by many local organizations:  she was named Orange County Arts Educator of the Year Award for Secondary Dance (2003); Youth America Grand Prix Outstanding Teacher from 2002-2015, and Arts Orange County’s winner of the the Helena Modjeska Lifetime Achievement Cultural Legacy Award (2014).

Ms. Rizkalla has been honored to impact the lives of hundreds of students and their families through her teaching. She  is proud to be a dedicated educator, an energetic promoter of the arts, and an active participant in the cultural life of her community.


Photo Credits:

  1. Secret Garden 2012; Photo Credit - Dave Friedman
  2. Secret Garden 2012; Photo Credit - Dave Friedman
  3. Secret Garden 2012; Photo Credit - Dave Friedman
  4. Secret Garden 2012; Photo Credit - Dave Friedman
  5. Nutcracker 2015 - Clara & Nutcracker Prince; Photo Credit - Dave Friedman
  6. Nutcracker 2015 - Guest Artists Irina Dvorovenko & Maxim Beloserkovsky; Photo Credit - Dave Friedman
  7. Nutcracker - Party Scene Adults; Photo Credit - Dave Friedman
  8. Nutcracker - Snow; Photo Credit - Dave Friedman
  9. Nutcracker - Clara, Fritz & Drosselmeyer; Photo Credit - Dave Friedman
  10. Nutcracker - Drosselmeyer backstage; Photo Credit - Rob Gage
  11. Nutcracker - Snow corps backstage; Photo Credit - Rob Gage
  12. Don Quixote 2013; Photo Credit - Dave Friedman
  13. Don Quixote 2013; Photo Credit - Dave Friedman
  14. Don Quixote 2013; Photo Credit - Dave Friedman