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Unbuttoned with Natasha Middleton of the Pacific Ballet Dance Theater

The Beauty of the ballet

I've been incredibly inspired by ballet dancers of late. The juxtaposition of strength and grace, delicate fingers and mangled toes is powerful to behold, to say the least.

Today's Unbuttoned With post features Natasha Middleton of the Pacific Ballet. True to the nature of ballerinas, her story reveals a courageous character behind the façade of a beautiful woman.

In Natasha's words

"I grew up in a ballet school, watching my father direct his company. I knew that someday, I too would be a director. In the dance world, directors are also known as choreographers, and it’s probably one of the most satisfying and creative jobs to have. I was raised in Los Angeles, but traveled a lot of the world. My family are all great artists in their field. My mother, Natalie, sang with San Francisco Opera. My aunt was film actress Yvonne de Carlo. My father, Andrei, and grandmother, Elena, both danced with the Ballet Russes which in their day was considered the most famous ballet company in the world. It changed the world of dance in America; it was the Godfather of ballet from the turn of the century to the 1960s. From that company, New York City Ballet, Joffrey Ballet, and American Ballet Theatre were born. All of this lead to how my family began following in the footsteps of these companies and directors, and soon Pacific Ballet Theatre was formed in Los Angeles.

Many productions, as well as great dancers, were designed by my father, Andrei Tremaine. By age 15, it was my turn to dance in that company, which became a family legacy. It was there I learned the true meaning of “the life of a ballerina,” but even more so, the art of directing and choreographing.

By the time I was well in to my twenties and dancing stronger than ever, a dancer’s worst nightmare surrounded me as like an unending dream – a car accident that left me unable to walk.

My neck was broken, causing my left leg and hand to go numb (along with other injuries). My family was at my side. I remember hearing doctors say to them that I may never walk again.

Being raised in the old Russian school style of thinking, my father immediately told me “Natasha, your muscles have a memory. We must begin therapy immediately.” I began working my muscles over and over until, one day it happened and I walked again. By God’s grace, discipline, perseverance, and that old school training I was able to overcome a great obstacle. Nothing and no one would hold me down. Unfortunately, the trade did cause me to hang up the pointe shoes forever, but, I could walk and walk strong.

I went on to dance, act, and sing in musical theatre. Luckily, I had also been passed down the gift of teaching, so I was busy working in my father’s studio which allotted me hours of space to choreograph, and that is where the story really begins. Over the years I went on to choreograph for such artists as Chick Corea and Herbie Hancock, setting the dancers for their US Tour and music videos for VH1. I worked with Toni Basil and Bette Midler and on television shows including “Hearts Afire” with Billy Bob Thorton and the late John Ritter (who loved to dance) and A&E’s “True Hollywood Story,” the life of super model Naomi Campbell.

One day, I decided to make history in Los Angeles and sought out seven of the most famous male ballet dancers that once danced with my father and created a production around their legacy. “Men of the Ballet Russe” was a big red carpet, media-covered event. My dancers performed that night to the ballets those famous men once danced. People were in awe, and history was made.

I recently took on my father’s old ballet company name, but modernized a bit as Pacific Ballet Dance Theatre. With this company, I have created high-end entertainment. “Dance in the USA” was a series of dance pieces to American rock ‘n roll throughout the decades. “The British Beat” was to the best of British music.

Having two older brothers gave me an advantage when it came to music. One listened to Bowie, the Beatles, or the greatest hits of Segovi. The other, Alice Cooper, Pink Floyd, Joan Baez, even Neil Young. Between my parents and my brothers, the walls rang in every room with some sort of sound. As for me, I was right in the middle, choreographing to every song or sound I heard. My range of style is unlimited.

Now, I am setting a new version of the ballet “Carmen.” This was the last role I danced just before my car accident, so in many ways this piece is very sentimental to me. It’s a very fiery Spanish-themed ballet about love, passion & betrayal. Spicy!

To create an entire production and see it come to life on stage, there is nothing like it in the world! Except the importance of proudly carrying on a family legacy."

Unbuttoned with Natasha Middleton

Style icon: Coco Chanel

Favorite heroine: Princess Diana

Dream lunch date: Martin Scorsese

Favorite cliché: It’s by Tao Te Ching "Mastering others is strength. Mastering yourself is true power."

Personal motto: Even when the day is going long and hard, find a moment to rewind your energy, relax, and then begin again.

Idea that changed your life: Made known my family legacy and brought back the Ballet Russe to Los Angeles.

Always trying to improve: Time management.

Most envious of: Trapeze artists, Chinese acrobats and great swimmers!

Most inspired by: Maya Plisetskya, Martha Graham and Paula Abdul. 3 completely different women, yet each pioneered a change in dance through movement, style and media.

Fashion item you would ban: Forced fashion. Such as women being forced to wear a burka. I ban fashion that forbids a human their rights.

Favorite piece in your wardrobe: My Rolling Stones T-Shirt

Biggest extravagance: Costumes. My dancers must look outstanding.

Can’t bare to spend on: High interest rates.

Irrational fear of: War and being alone in the dark.

Brains or beauty: Beauty (Inside and Out)

Audrey or Katharine Hepburn: Both! Audrey, when I am out on the town, and Katharine, when deep in my work.

Jennifer Lopez or Lawrence: Lawrence

Diamonds or pearls: Diamonds!!! Love Sparkle!

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  • Natasha, we were so inspired by the performance we saw at The Colony Theater that made so many dreams come true! I will be at your studio on Monday taking Miss Carol’s ballet class and you will be surprised when you hear the reason. She says she can improve my form on the Flying Trapeze and I would love to help you experience that wonderful thrill. Maybe we’ll talk about it at the show this Saturday! Looking forward to seeing your creation.

    Pamela Ventura on

  • Natasha is a combination of ultimate creativity and professionalism. I was blessed to have her choreograph a production of Brigadoon I directed. She is absolutely amazing as a person and choreographer.

    Emily Threatt on

  • Natasha, you are an amazing talent! Your choreography, the professionalism of all the concerts including music, costumes, lighting not to mention your outstanding dancers exceeds any other local talent by far and is absolutely at par with any of the world known touring companies.. I am thrilled to be able to associate with your ensemble and so very proud of you!!

    Patricia Peters Doyle on