Meeting Ms Olga
Our destined meeting with the prima of Perm
who's sharing her gift with American youth
This meeting had been a long time coming, more than just the several weeks between the call to Olga and our arrival at her studio several weeks ago.
It was some two years ago when we first found out that a Vaganova trained dance professional was teaching in LA. Shortly thereafter we drove over and stepped into a vacant studio with no one at the reception desk… so we thought we’d return another time… and we did, two years later.
We finally made it to Olga’s studio on December 13th in 2019 … it turns out just in time for her annual Nutcracker recital featuring her ballet students from Arabesque.
Following our acquaintance, Olga ushered us in to watch her class and group rehearsal for the Nutcracker taking place that weekend. It felt great to connect with someone who understood the world of ballet.. even moreso, the world of Vaganova.
Afterwards, Olga invited us to her production taking place that weekend in a venue next to the Hollywood dive called Paper or Plastik. It turns out the two joints are connected under the same owner who happens to love the performing arts.
On December 15th, we arrived with enough time to check out the hip cafe… along with a bunch of others attending the event. As we looked for a table to enjoy a hot latte on what was an unusually cold, windy LA day, and pondered on a drink to choose from their unique specialty offerings, my eye fell upon the perfect cup of frothy white, plant-based milk… a novel choice!
As it turns out, the table we found was right next to that enticing drink.
It was not until several minutes later when Olga came out of the performance hall to get us audience members (mostly parents and families of the ballet students) to take our seats for the show, casually introducing us to her star student, that we realized we had been sitting next to ABT principal Christine Shevchenko.
After the show we went over to congratulate Olga and spoke to Christine who turned out to be as unpretentious as her drink.
We chatted a bit and Christine graciously offered her contact info telling us she’d be happy to provide us with backstage tickets for an interview during our visit to NYC in May. “Just tell me which performance you’ll be attending,” she smiled.
I conveyed my appreciation to Christine about her refreshing simplicity and ease with which she conducted herself… an admirable trait given that, for anyone who knows anything about ballet, beneath the lovely exterior of a classical dancer lies an interior of steel.
It takes a warrior in mind and heart to reach and stay on top of your game in this arena.
It is a life of dedication to a higher beauty that requires the ultimate discipline, willpower, unrelenting devotion to the craft and abstinence from most desires in which our human animal nature partakes.
Passing on a Priceless Legacy.
Aside from these gifts of the evening, the greatest joy was to see Olga’s work.
It was really something to watch young girls of different ages, different backgrounds being molded into a beautiful version of themselves.
It was also palpable to see the inordinate amount of effort the girls expended into fulfilling what they were taught on stage – focusing on their steps and repertoire, while keeping in mind all the instructions their teacher instilled about correct technique, musicality and presentation.
And the courage to go out on that stage! — which was quite scary for many – was altogether an extraordinary feat.
You could see that this experience would change the rest of their lives – they were no longer who they were when they started out, they were already something greater.
To see this transformation before our eyes, was to see the result of teaching a precise framework built on principles of presence, focus, order, strength, balance, coordination and such through the ballet system of Agrippina Vaganova…
… a system with the power to transport our mind and body to a place of greater awareness, integrity… a higher caliber life.
... may this year bring the magic of ballet into your life!