Press Release: Martha Leebolt and Tobias Batley of Northern Ballet to assume artistic directorship of Southern California Ballet


For Immediate Release, February 5, 2017

Martha Leebolt and Tobias Batley of Northern Ballet to assume artistic directorship of Southern California Ballet

San Diego, CA — Award-winning Northern Ballet resident guest artists Martha Leebolt and Tobias Batley will take on new roles as artistic directors of Southern California Ballet. Leebolt and Batley will succeed Sylvia Palmer-Zetler who, after over 30 years of outstanding leadership as artistic director and academy principal, will continue as the director of the Cecchetti Training Program; long-time faculty member Suzan Stone will remain associate artistic director.

After their thrilling revival of Southern California Ballet’s The Nutcracker in December, Leebolt and Batley will premiere new choreography in March at SCB’s annual spring performance. The piece —entitled “The Four Seasons” after Max Richter's recomposition of Vivaldi's quintessential work — will debut alongside Palmer’s cherished production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. While both works will showcase the emerging young artists of the Southern California Ballet company, Midsummer Night’s Dream will also feature guest artists Shawn Burgess, Vincent Padilla and Jeremy Power in addition to students of the academy.

The spring performance will take place on Saturday, March 25th at 1:00pm at the Poway Center for the Performing Arts. A celebratory gathering will be held after the show to introduce Leebolt and Batley, who will officially assume their new positions in September, to the community. Proceeds from the performance will go towards funding for Southern California Ballet’s scholarship program, which awards young dancers based on both need and merit.

Poway Center for the Performing Arts is located at 15498 Espola Road, Poway, CA, 92064.
Southern California Ballet Academy and its company offices are located at 12285 World Trade Drive, Suite L, San Diego, CA, 92128.
12285 World Trade Drive, Suite K, San Diego, CA 92128
tel. 858-674-1006

Performing on stage with ballet greats such as Rudolph Nureyev and Eric Bruhn, performing professionally with the National Ballet of Canada, touring internationally, attending receptions given by President John F. Kennedy and Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau are just a few of the exciting highlights of the life of Sylvia Palmer-Zetler.

From performer, Sylvia transitioned to the role of teacher by earning her Licentiate from the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing in London, England in 1974 with special commendation and furthered her teacher training with The National Ballet School of Canada. She taught at the U.S. International University for six years. She obtained her Fellowship with Cecchetti USA in June 2008, is a member of their board and is one of only seven examiners in the Unites States.

Sylvia is Assistant Director of Dance for the California State Summer School for the Arts
(CSSSA). For over 30 years, she ran Black Mountain Dance Centre which recently merged with Southern California Ballet, the 501 (c) (3) she founded at about the same time.

Focusing on excellence and discipline, Sylvia’s students take international exams each year in the Cecchetti method of classical ballet and from the time Cecchetti examinations were included in the school curriculum, over 2000 students have earned diplomas in various levels, including teaching certificates.

Sylvia has choreographed numerous ballets for the company including Carnival of the Animals, The Magic Flute, Babar the Elephant, Masquerade Ball, Peter and the Wolf and A Midsummer Night’s Dream as well as reconstructing popular ballets such as Coppelia, Les Sylphides, and The Nutcracker to name just a few.

The greatest rewards come to Sylvia when her students are accepted to professional dance
companies, find work in touring musicals, or continue their dance training in top colleges throughout the United States. The walls are filled with cards, pictures and letters from these students to their dedicated and inspiring teacher of ballet.

Martha Leebolt trained at Black Mountain Dance Centre (SCB Academy) under the direction
of Sylvia Palmer and Ahita Ardalan and was a Southern California Ballet Company member. A
Rancho Bernardo graduate, she attended the professional training program at Ballet Met. A year later, she joined Northern Ballet, Leeds, England. Numerous roles created for her include
Cleopatra in Claude-Michel Schonberg and David Nixon's Cleopatra, Daisy in The Great Gatsby, Beauty in Beauty and the Beast, and Cinderella in Cinderella. In 2010, Martha won the National Dance Award for Outstanding Female Performance (Classical) in England for her interpretation of Marquise de Merteuil in Dangerous Liaisons. She was nominated again in 2016 for her performance of Julia in the ballet titled 1984 based on George Orwell’s iconic novel. Martha was repeatedly included in Dance Europe magazine's list of outstanding dancers and has been a guest artist around the world including at the 23rd International Ballet Festival, Havana, Cuba, and the 2014 European Ballet Awards, Berlin.

Tobias Batley was born in Manchester, England and trained at the Hammond School of Dance in Chester and the Royal Ballet School, London. After graduating, Tobias joined the Jeune Ballet de Cannes, in France before joining Northern Ballet, England in 2004. Batley has danced many leading roles and has had roles created for him including Marc Anthony in David Nixon and Claude Michel in Schonberg's Cleopatra, Jay Gatsby in The Great Gatsby, Prince Mikhail in Cinderella, Charles Darnay in A Tale of Two Cities, and Winston Smith in the ballet 1984. He was nominated for a National Dance Award in 2010, 2012 for Outstanding Male Performance (Classical) and for Best Male Dancer in 2015 and 2016. Tobias was included in Dance Europe magazine’s list of outstanding dancers for the last five years. He has guested in galas internationally, most recently at the Taglioni European Ballet Awards in Berlin.