Foreign techniques

By Lauren Mangleson

While many of their peers will be vacationing, 21 women from the U’s ballet department will be spending their Spring Break in St. Petersburg, Russia, studying ballet at one of the most prestigious ballet academies in the world.

The U’s Character Dance Ensemble has traveled to destinations such as London, Vancouver and, most recently, Beijing to study ballet and character dance amid other cultures, but it is this year’s invitation to the Vaganova Ballet Academy that has the women of CDE reeling with excitement.

“Vaganova is just a name you recognize,” said junior ballet major Maria Waters. “I have friends in ballet departments across the country, and none of them have had an opportunity like this.”

The trip to St. Petersburg will include two technique classes at the Vaganova

Academy as well as lectured demonstrations by Vaganova students. There will be time, however, for sight-seeing in the afternoons.

Character dance is influenced heavily by Eastern European folk dances and may include props like tambourines and castanets. Though a ballet background is not necessary in order to learn character dance, it can be pertinent in terms of technique.

This year’s trip is budgeted at $44,000, roughly $2,000 per dancer.

The CDE will be working in conjunction with the ballet department in order to raise the money by hosting events such as a special ballet performance in early January, a pasta dinner, a movie night and a character dance workshop for children.

Emmaly Wiederholt, a junior ballet major, said she believes studying at the Vaganova Academy will bring more credibility to the U’s ballet department.

“Our director Rick Wacko has amazing connections,” she said. “This is something I never dreamed I’d have the opportunity to do.”