Young Ballet Students Are Devoted to Their Art: Kirov Ballet School to Present Program of Classical Excerpts

By Jones, John L., Jr. | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), June 20, 1996 | Go to article overview

Young Ballet Students Are Devoted to Their Art: Kirov Ballet School to Present Program of Classical Excerpts


Jones, John L., Jr., The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


Dragos Mihalcea-Eliade, a serious teen-ager from Romania, studies dance at the Kirov Academy of Ballet. Its intense, strict, professional environment makes it hard to believe that a teen-ager would be so comfortable with such a restrained way of life.

"I've missed out on a normal childhood," he says, "but I've wound up with the finest thing I could have."

The student dancers at the ballet school seek to mix professionalism with an intense love of their art. The test will come Saturday, when the academy presents "The Soul in Flight," which will feature excerpts from 15 classical works.

By official decree, the Kirov here is the first dance school outside Russia to be given the name Kirov. Founded in 1990 by Oleg Vinogradov, also artistic director of the Kirov Ballet in St. Petersburg, the academy bases its training on the techniques of the Vaganova method and the performance aesthetics of the Kirov Ballet.

Almost hidden in a wooded area of Northeast, the academy is a world apart. Most of the students live there, rarely having to leave because the school offers a full program of academic studies in addition to professional dance training.

Occasional light chatter can be heard in the hallways, but dance is the constant undercurrent of everything that goes on. The students literally live for their art in an almost monastic atmosphere.

They devote mornings to academic classes and afternoons to dance lessons and rehearsals that go on until 7 p.m. A curfew goes into effect at 10:30 p.m. And the young people appear pleased with this lifestyle. They've decided on this career before the age of 10, and many spend what little free time they have in the studios.

The students' dedication stems from Yelena Vinogradova, a woman of both charm and inner strength. A former dancer and coach of the Kirov Ballet in Russia, she is deputy artistic director of the academy. All dance classes fall under her supervision.

In the studio, she is a no-nonsense teacher. To her, ballet is one of the world's most difficult professions and must be taught accordingly.

"How else can you approach your work?" she asks.

Michele Wiles of Wheaton reflects her teacher's zealous teaching methods.

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