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Anthony Small

by Anthony Small

Bravissima ballerina Natalie Steele, a 14-year-old from Capistrano Beach, has persevered though the pandemic to dance her way onto some mighty big stages. Natalie, who trains in Vaganova ballet at Dmitri Kulev Classical Ballet Academy and competes internationally in both ballet and contemporary dance, has continued to stay focused, train hard, and set some very high goals.

Natalie entered an Instagram competition called #kitchendancechallange and was chosen to be mentored by one of today’s biggest names in ballet, Misty Copeland. Misty gave her one-on-one mentorship providing guidance in both in dance and life. Natalie then won the coveted title of Youth Grand Prix at the Youth American Grand Prix regionals and in the finals, Natalie won first place in the Junior Women’s category, accepting scholarship offers to train at the Royal Ballet in London and John Cranko Schule in Stuttgart, Germany.

Photo: Natalie Steel. Photo: Ballet Zaida/Oliver Endahl

Natalie, who also loves to surf, was the youngest winner of The Music Center’s Spotlight competition where she, as a Spotlight Grand Finalist, received a $5,000 scholarship. This summer, Natalie is training with American Ballet Theater’s Stella Abrera and is already focused on the “Olympics of Ballet”, the Moscow Ballet Competition to be held at the prestigious Bolshoi Theater in July 2022. Natalie hopes to one day become a principal dancer in one of the world’s top ballet companies and that certainly doesn’t seem like a stretch. More info on Instagram:


Still buzzing after opening four summer dates for Donavon Frankenreiter, Dana Point duo Iris and the Shade will open for local favorite Matt Costa at the Coach House in San Juan Capistrano on Thursday, September 30th. Their impressive debut album “Caterpillar Wings” was produced by Costa and has the vibe of The Head and the Heart if Dolly Parton fronted them. Check out standout tracks “Comatose (Jessica’s Song)” and “Allergic to Smoke”.

Iris and the Shade’s Alexandra Davis and Chase Perkowski shared, “The music we listen to, and love has given us meaning and helped us with life’s roller coaster ride.  We just hope our music can do the same for anyone out there. A dream would be to play at Red Rocks in Colorado and give back and have a garden like Monet and a field full of dogs.”

More info on Instagram: @irisandtheshademusic


OHANA Festival has announced that Pearl Jam will be returning to headline their OHANA Encore weekend October 1st and 2nd, also featuring Beck, Brandi Carlile, Margo Price and others. Doheny State Beach and Asbury Park, New Jersey are the only places to see Pearl Jam in North America in 2021. More info:


Pacific Symphony’s “Symphony on the Go!”, a unique mobile community concert experience will be returning to Dana Point on Wednesday, August 11th, 7 p.m. at Sea Canyon Park on Santiago Drive (behind Dana Hills High School) and again on Wednesday, September 15th, 7 p.m. at Sea Terrace Park (PCH & Niguel Road). Bring your own blankets, chairs, and refreshments to this free 45-minute concert.


Music Preserves Foundation will be at the End of Summer Luau Concert in the Park finale on August 15th at Sea Terrace Park with a booth, raffle, hats, etc. and will also be a part of Ocean Institute’s Maritime Festival (formerly Tall Ships Festival), September 10th-12th. We’re stoked to be a part of the OHANA Festival again too, so stay tuned for more details and some cool interviews. A big THANK YOU to Lisa Bartlett and Charitable Ventures for naming Music Preserves as a recipient in the Fifth District Arts-Related Grant Relief Program. More info:


Sincerest condolences to the family of artist Greg Wise, who passed away July 24th while camping with his family. Wise’s artwork was among those chosen last month by the Arts and Culture Commission for the Utility Box Beautification Program and will be located at the intersection of Stonehill and Blue Lantern.


Anthony Small is Executive Director and co-founder of Music Preserves Foundation, a local musician and former City of Dana Point Arts and Culture Commissioner. Small and his family have lived in Dana Point for 23 years.

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