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Politics Aside, Donetsk Ballerina to Teach at Wissahickon Dance Academy

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She’s taking a detour.  The airport in Donetsk is closed due to civil unrest as Russian and Ukrainian cultures clash.  The trains are to be shut down after June 14.  The city has imposed a 10 o’clock curfew for all residents.  Irina Komarenko, Principal Dancer for the Donetsk Ballet Company, will be traveling to Kiev by train before the shutdown.  From there, she will board an airplane destined for New York and will be brought to Philadelphia by Nancy Malmed, Artistic Director of Wissahickon Dance Academy (WDA) where she is slated to direct the summer ballet intensive which begins June 23.

This will be the third year that WDA has brought Irina Komarenko to teach this very unique summer ballet program.  She has danced all of the major roles in Donetsk Ballet productions including Don QuIxote, Swan lake, Sleeping Beauty, Spartacus, La Bayadere, Le Corsaire, The Nutcracker.  She is fluent in English, having spent six years as Principal Dancer for Indianapolis Ballet.  Like all dancers from the former Soviet Union, she teaches the Vaganova method of classical ballet, a standardized Russian system that stresses strength, flexibility, and artistic expression that has produced some of the greatest dancers in the world.

Irina enraptured Philadelphia audiences this past December with her performance in The Nutcracker. So, students are excited to have her as their teacher this summer.  Adding to the international flavor,  former PA Ballet soloist, Yosbel Delgado, from Cuba, will teach advanced classes and partnering.  The Cuban training is also Vaganova based since their country was a Soviet satellite.

The staff also includes Donald Lunsford, Artistic Director of Philadanco II teaching jazz and modern,  Svetlana Lutz teaching character, and Meghan Dwyer teaching yoga,  rounding out  an interesting international brew of cultures.

The three week course runs from June 23 – July 11 and is for intermediate and advanced ballet dancers ages 10 -22.  It runs from 9:30 to 3:30 everyday and will culminate in a studio performance and reception.

For information, contact the studio at 215-849-7950, or email wissahickodance@verizon.net or visit the website a www.wissahickondance.com.

- Steven Weisz

Founder & Editor
While not a dancer himself, Weisz’s love for the arts and dance started as a child growing up in New York City. With parents, who were strong supporters of the arts and part of a community with an incredible array of notable artists in music, dance, theater and fine arts, Weisz’s access and affinity for the performing arts took root. Upon attending college in Philadelphia at the University of Pennsylvania in the mid 70’s, Weisz started performing as a puppeteer, magician, juggler and fire eater as a means of supplementing his income. This soon grew in to what became Rainbow Promotions Inc., one of the largest entertainment and special events producers in the region. It was here that he began to promote and book dance for major events throughout the city. Many of the dancers he worked with in the early days of his company are now major choreographers in Philadelphia. At the same time, Weisz’s interest in computers and the early developments of what is now known as the Internet, led him to also start another company, Delaware Valley On Line, which became one of the first regional ISPs. It was this combination of event production, internet development and event marketing that led him to examine the use of the internet as a means to promote the arts. Dance continued to be a major interest for Weisz and in 2005 he founded PhiladelphiaDANCE.org as a major online resource to promote dance in the city. It was soon after that the Dance Journal was also founded as a way to provide an outlet for writing on a range of topics that encompass the ever growing and emerging dance community in the region. Weisz continues to run both PhiladelphiaDANCE and The Dance Journal on purely a voluntary basis with no income derived from any of his projects. He is also the Artistic Director of Graffito Works, a unique platform for dancers and performing artists to create site-specific work and to make it readily accessible to the public.

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