Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Anne Polajenko Presents: CARREÑO DANCE FESTIVAL: August 4 – 27, 2011

      The first CARREÑO DANCE FESTIVAL was, by all accounts, a resounding success.

         Held in Sarasota Florida under the auspices of the Sarasota International Dance Festival,
it consists of a three week intensive ballet program concluding in a performance by the students and an international array of dance stars.

         I was first attracted to this new project by a personality, recently retired ballet superstar José Manuel Carreño. When I looked further at the faculty, I came across the distinguished Cuban teacher Loipa Araujo, the Russian ABT soloist Gennadi Saveliev, ABT teacher Rimat Imaev and the inimitable modern dance duo of Jacoby and Pronk. That told me the students were in for a very special experience!

       Ranging in age from twelve to eighteen, the lucky students who had been selected through the audition process were everything you would expect: talented, dedicated and hard working. What I did not expect to see was a polish and style almost impossible to achieve in a mere three weeks. There was the unmistakable mark of excellent teaching.

        Loipa Araujo is a teacher whose reputation preceeds her. She is a maker of true artists and among her protégés is José Manuel Carreño. There was something very touching about the relationship – artistic mother to son - and indeed the same respect and affection was now being handed down to a new generation. Students flourished under their strict but warm tutelage.

      The conclusion of the summer program was a performance showing off the students’ talents, which are many. Several are already winners of Youth America Grand Prix.

      They were joined by faculty members dancing an inspiring array of solos and duets ranging from “Swan Lake” to an amazing piece by Jacoby and Pronk. The program was tailored to educate as well as entertain. Much was made of special guest artist from ABT, Sarah Lane, whose un-credited doubling for Natalie Portman in “Black Swan” made recent news. The performance played to a sold-out house.

       Teachers who are always on the lookout for meaningful summer programs to which they can entrust their students should pay heed. The Carreño Dance Festival may not be in New York or San Francisco and it may not have the trappings of some of the major programs but it does have a very unique teaching faculty and an equally unique intimate atmosphere where every student matters.

    --- Anne Polajenko

     Love from your humble blogger,

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