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Meet Eugene Hutchins of Barak Ballet in Santa Monica

Today we’d like to introduce you to Eugene Hutchins.

Eugene, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I am a native Angeleno. Born in LA and raised in the Northeastern part of the San Fernando Valley. One day, my Mom and Dad took me to a Mall in North Hollywood and there was an ice rink. And I wanted to skate on the ice. Before you know it, I was doing competitions, winning medals, and having lots of fun. Then, one day at Pickwick in Burbank, I was training and there was an audition for a commercial for Puff’s Facial Tissue. They asked my Dad if I would want to audition and a week later, I would be shooting a commercial. From then on, I began taking dance, acting, and singing classes and this became my passion and soon, I left figure skating behind. My parents were always supportive.

I received my BA in Dance from UCLA and then moved to New York City. This is where my career began. To make a living, I became truly a multi-hyphenate as a professional director, choreographer, production stage manager, and arts administrator. I lived in New York for almost seven years and began doing more work in opera with New York City Opera, Chautauqua Opera, Operaworks, Jazz N Opera, and Regina Opera, but also in theatre with The Pearl Theatre Company and WPA Theatre. I was awarded first grants for my artistic work. My professional experience working in New York would lay the foundation for the rest of my career.

Has it been a smooth road?
Whether you call it show biz, the entertainment industry, or arts and culture, my profession is not an easy field to enter and maintain a livelihood. I think of 9/11 and of course, The Great Recession that really hit me in 2007 when I had multiple contracts cancel within a single year as companies cut their shows and some even went bankrupt. It is also a challenge when you are working from gig to gig to be able to manage your resources so you can save for those “rainy days” and self-employment taxes.

However, as an Arts Manager, it can be just as challenging to make ends meet and make difficult choices. I have written and secured more than $1.8M in contributed revenue from foundation, corporate, and government grants throughout my career. Yet, I still receive notices declining my proposals. This results in less resources to offer arts education programs, performances, and simply the resources need to run a dance, opera, or theatre company. This can lead to layoffs for staff and making the decision to do shows with smaller cases resulting in less work for my colleagues.

We are living in unprecedented times with the Corona19 virus in which theatres and performing arts centers can’t open for months and months. Artists are amazingly resilient and have adapted like what we did at Barak Ballet by offering online content with interviews in our Inside the Dancer’s Studio series or ballet classes via barakballet through Instagram. However, it definitely is not the same as communal experience of being together experience a live performance.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Barak Ballet – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of and what sets you apart from others.
I am currently the Managing Director of Barak Ballet. We are a professional ballet company based in Santa Monica and performs regularly at The Broad Stage. Former New York City Ballet dancer Melissa Barak, who is also the Artistic Director founded Barak Ballet. It is one of the most well-regarded companies in Los Angeles with high critical praise from the Los Angeles Times and other publications.

What distinguishes Barak Ballet is its high artistic standards and quality of the work it does every year. It is truly Ballet for the 21st century. The 14 professional dancers who encompass the company are among the most talented dancers working in Los Angeles. We regularly commission other important choreographers in addition to Ms. Barak to set new ballets for the company including Ma Cong, Andi Schermoly, Nicolas Blanc, and Darrell Grand Moultrie. Barak Ballet also collaborates with noted contemporary composers such as Molly Joyce and visual artists such as Refik Anadol.

Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
What I have always loved about Los Angeles is that it is one of most diverse cities in the world. As a Filipino-American, I love that I can easily find both traditional Filipino dishes with new re-inventions of Filipino Cuisine. One of my favorite restaurants is Ma’am Sir in Silver Lake.

I also love that LA is also a geographically diverse place to live in. Where I live in Altadena, I love being a few minutes from some great hiking trails. At the same time, I know I can get to some awesome beaches through a shuttle near my house. I also love the multitudes of public art in our Metro stations.

Like most people, I wish there were fewer cars on the road and that there were more walkable areas of the city. And I also wish the “Valley” received more respect as a place to visit and experience in LA.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Photo of Eugene Hutchins by Toni LeBel; DesertTransport – Photo Credit: Desert Transport choreography by Nicolas Blanc for Barak Ballet Photo by Cheryl Mann; 190627_barak_274 – Photo Credit: Pretty, Peculiar Things choreography by Melissa Barak for Barak Ballet Photo by Cheryl Mann. BarakBalletInRehearsal – Photo Credit: Barak Ballet in Rehearsal Photo by Melissa Barak

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