Rinat Mouzafarov, director of the Rinat Mouzafarov Institute of Dance and Ballet Theatre, will be giving two weeks of master classes in June to dancers at the internationally known Christian ballet company Ballet Magnificat in Jackson, Miss.
"This is a big honor," said Mouzafarov, who gave private lessons to some of the dancers from Ballet Magnificat when they were in Minot in November to perform "The Scarlet Cord." Ballet Magnificat director Kathy Thibodeaux was impressed with how Mouzafarov helped improve the performance of her dancers and has been looking for another teacher trained in the Russian Vaganova technique. A Russian trained in the Vaganova technique had previously worked with the Ballet Magnificant but has retired and Thibodeaux has had trouble finding another master teacher, said Mouzafarov.
Mouzafarov had an extensive ballet background in his native Russia, where he was trained at the Vaganova School of Ballet in St. Petersburg. He danced with the Bolshoi Opera and Ballet Theater Association of Russian Ballet and was a principal dancer. He obtained a doctorate degree in choreography from the School of Theatrical Arts in Moscow. He also worked as a choreographer for the Russian National Figure Skating Team and later with the National Figure Skating Team in Greece. He established the Mouzafarov Institute of Dance and Ballet Theater in Minot some 15 years ago and currently trains about 120 students from preschool to adult. His students also perform at different events and in different productions during the year and Mouzafarov choreographs dances for many of those events. He is excited because a Russian dancer from the Bolshoi will appear in the school's production of "The Nutcracker" for the first time since 2001.
Andrea Johnson/MDN --
From left to right, Maida Berg, Cassondra Helgeson, Brianna Berg, Alexis Schriock, Macy Christianson and Laurel Collins work at the barre on May 25 at the Mouzafarov Institute of Dance and Ballet Theater. All have been selected for ballet intensives this summer at ballet companies across the country.
Several of Mouzafarov's students have gone on to perform with ballet companies across the country. During a pointe class on May 25, teenagers took turns dancing en pointe across the room from one direction and then, at the conclusion, together in a line around the room. They are disciplined and respectful. The most advanced students take hours of classes each week and dream of becoming professional ballet dancers.
Seven of the students in this class auditioned for and have been accepted for ballet intensives at companies this summer.
Alexis Schriock, Minot, has been accepted to the Boulder Jazz Dance summer intensive workshop at the University of Colorado at Boulder. The workshop offers training in modern dance, ballet, jazz and hip hop. Schriock has been chosen as a soloist at a performance at the end of the two week intensive.
Macy Christianson, Laurel Collins and Cassondra Helgeson, all Minot, have been accepted to dance at the Bolshoi Academy Summer Intensive Workshop in New York City. The Bolshoi is one of the oldest and most established classical ballet schools Teachers at the workshop will be exclusively from the Bolshoi Ballet and will instruct classes in pointe, variation, partnering, character dance and classical ballet. Dancers come from around the world to attend the workshop. This is the second summer that Collins and Christianson are attending. After the six week workshop the dancers will perform at the Manhattan Movement and Arts Center in New York City.
Brianna Berg and Maida Berg, sisters from Bottineau, and Chloe Ondracek, from Minot, have been selected to attend the Central Wisconsin School of Ballet summer intensive in Wausau, Wis. The girls will receive instruction in classical ballet, jazz, pointe, variation. The Berg girls attended the workshop last summer as well. At the conclusion of the workshop, they will perform in the outdoor theater in Wausau.
The girls, all of whom are high school age, said that there are great advantages in the intensives. They have an opportunity to learn from other instructors and work with other dancers, including more male dancers than they have a chance to work with in Minot. Most of them will be working seven or eight hours a day for five or more days a week at the intensives. During their off hours they will have an opportunity to explore the cultural offerings in the areas they're going to and meet people.
Going to the intensives also helps the dancers see that they are able to do as well as dancers from big cities and prestigious ballet schools.
"They appreciate me more (when they come back)," Mouzafarov said.
Helgeson said she's been met with incredulity when she tells people at auditions where she's from. They always wonder what someone from Minot is doing there and are surprised there is a ballet school here. Mouzafarov is proud that his dancers are the only ones in the Midwest that compete at such a high caliber.
Collins started ballet at age 6 and has been Mouzafarov's student since she was 10. She said her family stayed in Minot after her dad retired from the U.S. Air Force so she could study with "Mr. Rinat," as all his students call him. Collins said she wouldn't be able to get the classical Russian Vaganova technique she's learned from Mouzafarov from ballet teachers in many other states. The Berg sisters make the 160-mile round trip from Bottineau four times a week to study with Mouzafarov. He has other students from outside Minot or the vicinity, including one family that comes from Rugby.
The girls said they have all been taking ballet since they were small children. All of them love the world of dance.