Standing in the wings for HOME

Nov. 29, 2010

The Lab's Michaele Kashgarian spends a lot of her free time volunteering at the Valley Dance Theatre. (Download Image)

Standing in the wings for HOME

Robert H Hirschfeld,, 925-422-2379

Michaele Kashgarian's research activities take place at LLNL's High Explosives Applications Facility (HEAF) where she's now a chemist (or, as her colleagues refer to her, a "reformed geochemist"). She spends her days researching the thermal response of energetic materials after spending much of her career studying paleoclimate at the Center for Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (CAMS).

But her free time is devoted to Livermore's well-established cultural arts community. In particular, she supports the Tri-Valley's non-profit ballet company, Valley Dance Theatre (VDT).

Spending time at the dance studio on Second Street in downtown Livermore is a family affair. Both of her children, daughter Genie and son Harry, are dance students at VDT and have performed various roles in the Nutcracker while her husband, Mark Rose, performs the role of "Grandpapa".

Kashgarian, however, prefers to remain in the wings, helping out wherever she's needed backstage.

"I do what I can to support VDT," Kashgarian said. "There's a tremendous amount of volunteer work that goes into each production, including the gorgeous custom-designed and hand-sewn costumes. Then to watch it all come together on stage -- it is definitely a labor of love."

"Valley Dance Theatre has always had very close ties to people in the LLNL community," she said. "We have many parent volunteers, as well as current and former board members who work at the Lab. And since VDT offers dance classes for all ages, some of our adult students are LLNL employees. And Barbara Campbell, a recent Lab retiree, is an instructor here."

Kashgarian started as a parent volunteer eight years ago, and has been actively involved ever since, including a stint as a member of the Board of Directors.

As a non-profit organization, the Valley Dance Theatre greatly appreciates contributions made by LLNL employees via the HOME Campaign. "Having the matching donations from the HOME Campaign really makes the difference for us," Kashgarian said.

The funds enable scholarships to dance students who might otherwise not be able to afford classes. Kashgarian explained, "VDT director Betsy Hausburg's philosophy is that no one who wants to dance will be turned away. Contributions to VDT via the HOME Campaign help us make dance classes available to everyone."

In addition, the HOME contributions provide free and subsidized performances for local schools and community groups.

"There are people in this community who have never had the opportunity to experience a live performance of any type in a theater," she said. "HOME contributions help us provide them with the chance to see a fully staged, professional quality production of the Nutcracker ballet at the Bankhead Theater, and, we hope, inspire them to participate in the arts."

Valley Dance Theatre's 31st annual production of the Nutcracker Ballet, accompanied by the Livermore-Amador Symphony, will take place with eight performances Dec. 11-19 at Livermore's Bankhead Theater.

For more information, go to the Valley Dance Theatre Website.