Intensive and Inspiring: Ballet Academy East
By Mila Gorokhovich
August 11, 2003
If you are looking for a variety of dance training opportunities, Ballet Academy East on Third Avenue (b/w 92nd and 93rd) may be an option to consider. The school offers open classes for multiple levels as well as programs (summer and fall) for pre-ballet youngsters. However, the school's forte lays in its intensive graded level program for aspiring ballet dancers. The program is designed to train dancers from ages 6 - 18 and prepare them for the rigorous professional world of dance. From the first Primary Level to the final Level 7, the students are annually evaluated by the BAE faculty and placed in a level where he/she would benefit most from. There is also a summer intensive program for students ages 11-18. Faculty and guest teachers include Maxim Belotserkovsky (principal with American Ballet Theatre), Julie Kent (principal with American Ballet Theatre), Darla Hoover (former soloist with New York City Ballet) and Margaret Tracey (former principal with New York City Ballet). In addition, the school has an in house choreographer, Frances Patrelle, who not only teaches regular weekly classes, but stages ballets and uses dancers for his own productions with his company - Dances Patrelle. The director of the school, Julia Dubno, highlights the nurturing, positive environment at Ballet Academy East, but while that may be the case, the program trains the students for the real - life competition in professional dance - with her/himself as well as with others. In the following interview, Miss. Dubno discusses the foundation of Ballet Academy East as well as her thoughts about ballet in the 21rst century.
MG: How long has the school been around?
JD: Since September 1979
MG: What kind of classes does the school offer?
JD: They start from ages 2 and up. The graded level program offers as many as 4 classes a week in level 3 and 6 classes in level 6. Levels 4 and 5 also include separate pointe classes, while levels 6 and 7 include variation classes. We also offer a summer intensive program for students ages 11-18. Open classes include Pilates, yoga, jazz, and modern.
MG: Is the graded level program based on a specific syllabus?
JD: No. Darla Hoover (former soloist with New York City Ballet) is the artistic advisor and coordinator for the graded level program syllabus, but there is no specific syllabus. The program consists of classical training that is intended to prepare young dancers for any professional company. Combinations become more advanced as students improve their technique.
MG: Are there performance opportunities for students?
JD: Yes. We perform at the John Jay College Theatre. There are annual spring performances in which students from level 3-7 participate. Our faculty members have staged Pequita, Harlequinade… we also provide studio performance opportunities for students level 5-7 in November and our students participate in Frances Patrelle's Nutcracker. We are very fortunate that Mr. Patrelle frequently uses our students in his performances.
MG: Are you a dancer? If so, what kind of dancing have you done?
JD: I started taking ballet at the Fokine Ballet School when I was twelve years old and attended Julliard as a dance major. However, I found it a struggle to make it as a dancer. So I went back to the Fokine Ballet School to work for Miss Fokine. The school was a very traditional and much smaller dance studio. I loved working with little children and I started teaching pre ballet there. Working closely with Christine Fokine, the owner of the school, I was able to learn the skills of managing a dance studio. I became very passionate about teaching and administration and eventually, opened up my own studio - Ballet Academy East - in 1979.
MG: Who would you say is a role model in your life?
JD: I think Margot Fonteyn was a role model for me. She had everything I imagined to be in an artist. She was beautiful and breathtaking.
MG: What are your thoughts on ballet in the 21rst century?
JD: I think that economically, things have been pretty bad and as a result, there is a lack of opportunities for dancers. It's becoming harder and harder to get people into companies.
MG: Where do you see ballet in the future? What do you think of the innovative contemporary twists to classical ballet?
JD: I think innovation is great and I'm a big supporter of new choreography. I think it's great that the Balanchine Trust exists to promote staging of Balanchine's works worldwide. I look positively into the future - I think the dancers are getting stronger and that strengthens the field of ballet. Students are constantly becoming stronger and more breath taking than previous generations.
If you would like to learn more about Ballet Academy East, please visit their website at www.balletacademyeast.com. You can also reach the studio by telephone at 212-410-9140.