Students at a dance academy in Lockport have been working with a Russian ballerina. WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley says this unique dance opportunity is leading up to a special performance this Saturday at 6 p.m. at the Palace Theater in Lockport.
“I feel like I’m so inspired sharing my art with local children, adult dancers,” said Olga Aru, ballerina and guest choreographer.
Aru is originally from Ukraine. A dancer with an international career. Earlier this year Aru was granted permanent residency in the United States and now lives in Rochester.
Three years ago, while working with the Moscow Ballet's Great Russian Nutcracker as an audition coordinator, she met Dyan Mulvey, who has owned and operated the Dyan Mulvey Dance Academy in Lockport for 39-years. They’ve become friends.
“And I’ve decided to created my first choreography in the United States and base it here in Lockport because of the good connection with the studio owner, Dyan, who’s also my friend and all very talented kids that train here, so I wanted to share something with them,” explained Aru.
“It’s an honor. I mean we are truly blessed to have her presence and all of her knowledge and background and share it with our American students,” Mulvey said.
“I am teaching them the classical Vaganova (Russian) based technique method and I’m coming here to work with them once in a while and I rehearse with them on Pointe. I was trained by Vaganova technique and I also lived in Italy in three years and I also trained with Cecchetti technique, so I understand their training and I tried to bring the best parts of my training,” Aru remarked.
Aru tells us she was commissioned by an Italian composer to launch an international project.
“We launched the project with international renowned composer and conductor Tiziano Bedetti, who’s a resident in Venice, Italy and he’s created this beautiful piece,” Aru said. “He invited me to become a choreographer and principal dancer in the piece and I listen to his music and I got inspired by the tunes and I decided to create my first choreography in the United States and base it here in Lockport,” Aru noted.
“She’s an amazing artist herself and now, with her teaching and bringing, sharing different countries together is something these kids will remember the rest of their life and so will I,” Mulvey said.
Eight of Mulvey's students from Lockport were selected to be in the choreographed piece, dancing alongside the Russian ballerina.
“I’m one of like the background dancers, behind Ms. Olga,” said Brianna Gelnett. Glenett is a Lockport High School student selected to dance with Aru and has been dancing for 14-years.
“What is it like to work with her and her experience as a Russian ballerina?” Buckley asked.
“Incredible – like working with a professional – it’s inspiring to all of us,” responded Gelnett.
“What have you learned that’s different or new to you?” Buckley questioned.
“That there’s more – just here, learning from somebody from a different country there is so much more than we what thought to begin with – like with the whole everything,” Gelnett answered.
Abigail Alex is eighth grade student at North Park in Lockport dancing for nine-years. Alex noted watching the Russian-style ballerina makes her work even harder in ballet.
“It’s like different than anything else. It’s just – you want to be that. She was dancing her whole life and now she’s here – you live up to that – like she lived up to it and it’s almost like you want to do the same thing,” said Alex.
“Has it changed you at all as a dancer?” Buckley asked Alex.
“Yeah, actually now that I look at it – it’s almost like I can get my leg that high – she can get it – I can learn from her. It’s almost like it brings me up to – she’s teaching me and maybe I’ll be that too, if I put my mind to it,” Alex responded.
Madison Long is also a Lockport High School student who has been dancing for 14-years.
“Just watching her and actually her being here, physically in front of you is just incredible to actually be there,” Long remarked.
Aru will also bring her work to Italy and plans to offer some of the local Lockport students a chance to travel and perform with her. After broadcast of our story, Aru wrote "we are going to Ferrara festival in Italy next year!"