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World renowned dancer teaches local class

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Asheville ballerinas received instruction from renowned ballet dancer Valery Lantratov, who is currently touring the United States. Photo by James Mathews

Published Asheville Tribune and Weaverville Tribune January, 2017

By Heather Berry

Asheville – The Asheville Ballet opened its doors Sunday to Valery Lantratov of the Russian National Ballet Foundation. The event was sponsored by the Asheville Ballet and the Asheville Academy of Ballet and Contemporary Dance.

“It think it’s very exciting to give dancers from all different studios a chance to encounter a different technique and take what they learn back to their own studio,” said Ann Dunn, CEO and Artistic Director for the Asheville Ballet.

For the event, Lantratov taught a master class in ballet technique for more than an hour to around 30 dancers, ranging from young students to professional dancers. The event was open to the public and cost $10 per person. “We try to have events like this when we get the opportunity,” said Dunn. “Sometimes classes like this are very, very expensive, but we were fortunate enough to get enough donations to our scholarship fund, with the Nutcracker performance, to fund this class.

The cost to the student would normally be $30 to $40, but, instead, it’s $10. “If you are going to do something like this for the whole community,” Dunn added, “I believe you need to make it affordable for the whole community.”

Lantratov, a resident of Moscow, tours the United States twice yearly and provides master classes in different venues from New York City to L.A. The dancer has an impressive resume which includes time as a principal dancer for the Moscow Stanislavsky and Kremlin ballets, plus acting as general director and founding member of the Russian National Ballet Foundation.

Lantratov was also one of eight soloists in Rudolf Nureyev’s “Farewell Tour” of the United Kingdom, along with begin named “People’s Artist of Russia” by Boris Yeltsin. “We were in Tennessee yesterday and, before that, we were in Cincinnati and Detroit and, after this, we go to South Carolina, Georgia, Florida and across Louisiana, Texas and New Mexico to California,” said Lantratov’s manager Laura Lee. “Lantratov studied at the Bolshoi Academy and he was a guest artist on Rudolf Nureyev’s farewell tour,” she said. “We met when we were on tour with a different company,” she added.

Celebrating their tenth anniversary offering master class instruction tours, Lee and Lantratov said the original intent was to perform on tour. Dance schools across the United States, however, continued to ask them to teach instead. “It’s just grown from there,” Lee said.

“Last winter, we went from New York to L.A., while, this winter, we are working our way through the southern states and making our way to Los Angeles.” Lantratov started the master class at the Asheville Ballet by giving the students some simple warm up exercises, but gradually increased the level of difficulty. During the class, he frequently stopped to give specific points to dancers, using humor to lighten the mood.

According to Lee, one of the benefits of touring is seeing the country and watching young dancers get an opportunity to dance with a worldrenowned artist. “We go to cities of all different sizes, from big cities to small towns,” she said.

Events like the Lantratov’s master class, draw students from different schools, explained Dunn. “I see plenty of new faces,” she said. Part of the attraction of an event like Lantratov’s, Dunn added, is the ability to bring dancers from around the area to meet each other and take what they learn back to wherever they study.