The Oakland Ballet Company Legacy Project is a collaboration between The Ronn Guidi Foundation for Dance, Oakland Ballet Company, and ChromaDiverse to preserve and protect the important works of this world-renowned dance company.  

“Archiving matters. History matters. The record matters.”

— Judy Tyrus and Paul Novosel

History

Founded in 1965 by Oakland native Ronn Guidi, and currently under the direction of Graham Lustig, Oakland Ballet Company celebrates over half a century of critically acclaimed choreographed works, worldwide performances, dedicated dance training, and impactful educational programs helping empower our community quality of life. 

The Oakland Ballet Company revived iconic works by renowned choreographers such as Kurt Jooss, Michel Fokine, Charles Weidman, and Antony Tudor. OBC also championed American masterpieces, presenting Eugene Loring’s Billy the Kid, Ruthanna Boris’s Cakewalk, and Agnes de Mille’s Fall River Legend. The company continues this tradition today commissioning works from local choreographers such as Betsy Erickson, Michael Lowe, Robert Moses, and Amy Seiwert.

Graham Lustig became Artistic Director of OBC in 2010 and presented a new production of The Nutcracker at Oakland’s Paramount Theatre, as well as an annual Spring season rooted in contemporary works creating partnerships with local artists such as the TurfFeinz and Nava Dance Theater.  In 2016, he began presenting Luna Mexicana, a celebration of Día de los Muertos, at the Paramount and throughout schools in the East Bay. He expanded OBC’s education programs. Discover Dance providing in-school and in-theater assemblies, reaching more than 12,000 East Bay students each year, and You Can Dance! bringing movement-based learning into the schools. 

In March of 2022, in collaboration with the Oakland Asian Cultural Center, Lustig launched a new initiative titled The Dancing Moons Festival in celebration of Asian American Pacific Island choreographers, composers and designers.

“The impact of ChromaDiverse’s work will not only be to strengthen the organizations they work with, but to improve the public’s access to archival records of dance.”

— Imogen Smith, Director of Archiving and Preservation, Dance/USA

About the Ronn Guidi Foundation for Dance

ronn guidi foundation for dance

After Guidi’s retirement from Oakland Ballet in 2001, he formed the Ronn Guidi Foundation for Dance. Its mission was to support performances of the Sergei Diaghilev Ballet Russes era ballets, early 20th century masterworks, and original ballets created by him and by dancers from the Company. 

Upon Guidi’s death in 2021, the foundation’s newly appointed, President, Ron Thiele, realized the historical and magical gift of dance that was hidden away in boxes, closets and storage facilities. Ronn Guidi had bequeathed a treasure trove of OBC’s history to the foundation.   

To help preserve these past works and utilize them to build on the historic legacy of OBC, the foundation has updated its goals: 

  • To realign the Ronn Guidi Foundation for Dance with the Oakland Ballet Company.
  • To support OBC alumni with artistic resources and information to restage historic works from the Guidi Foundation repertoire.
  • To digitally preserve the OBC Legacy Archive as a living and accessible resource for the restaging of works, training, and inspiring the public’s understanding of this American ballet company, its impact on our community, and the power of its legacy to enhance our community and all of its arts.

“The launch of the Oakland Ballet Company Legacy Project is pivotal to this dance history-making organization, its countless friends, researchers, fans, artists, students, and supporters. Together, with ChromaDiverse as guide, we will memorialize, record, and perpetuate OBC’s extraordinarily rich legacy by architecting a vibrant living archive for all time.”

—Laird Rodet, Oakland Ballet General Manager, 1988-1993

Partnering with ChromaDiverse

chromadiverse logo

Ron Thiele reached out to Judy Tyrus, former Oakland ballet dancer. He sought her expertise and guidance to organize and make the OBC collection digitally accessible. After learning of the cloud-based digital archive management system developed by her company, he knew he had found a solution to meet the many challenges the Foundation and the Oakland Ballet are facing to help continue the empowering impact of the arts in our community. 

ChromaDiverse’s Digital Vault is a digital asset management system that not only captures the past but is developed to be a “living archive” that has the capacity to grow with each performance year. Once in place, it provides digital preservation and easy access to assets for everyday marketing, fundraising, training, restaging choreographic works and research.   

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