Maria Youskevitch, American Repertory Ballet, Cuba's International Ballet Festival
Maria Youskevitch, longtime faculty member at Princeton Ballet School, is one of this year's American Repertory Ballet Gala Honorees, and is the recipient of this year's Audrée Estey Award for Excellence in Dance Education. Daughter of one of the leading dancers of the 20th century, Igor Youskevitch, Ms. Youskevitch brings a strong background in and deep knowledge of ballet to her students. She teaches for a variety of levels and, every year, re-stages a full-length classical ballet on Princeton Ballet School students for the School's Spring Production. She has also served as Rehearsal Director for American Repertory Ballet, the professional company associated with Princeton Ballet School, on several occasions.
"I knew I wanted to be a ballet dancer at the age of two after I saw my father dance," Ms. Youskevitch says. Sheset out to achieve her dream by studying with teachers from The Ballet Russe legacy - the sources of ballet in America and many of the finest ballet artists of the 20th Century. Among them were her mother, Anna Scarpova, a soloist with Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo and a teacher in NY for over fifty years, and her father, who was a star dancer of The Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo and American Ballet Theatre. Ms. Youskevitch went on to dance as a soloist with American Ballet Theatre Maryland Ballet and a principal ballerina with her father's concert group Ballet Romanique.
This past December, Ms. Youskevitch was honored as a guest of the state to the 23rd Annual International Ballet Festival in Havana, Cuba, which was in celebration of the centenary of Igor Youskevitch's birth. Ms. Youskevitch was personally invited by Alicia Alonso, Igor Youskevitch's long-time, world-renowned dance partner who directs the festival. Her company Ballet Alicia Alonso, which Youskevitch helped his partner establish in 1948, later became Ballet Nacional de Cuba, an internationally recognized company.
Maria Youskevitch visited the Ballet Festival with Kirk Peterson. A former principal dancer for American Ballet Theatre and San Francisco Ballet, Peterson focused on choreography after retiring from the stage. When he was Artistic Director at Hartford Ballet, Ms. Youskevitch was company teacher, rehearsal assistant, and senior faculty member. Peterson, who is currently a guest choreographer for American Repertory Ballet, was invited to choreograph a special pas de deux in Igor Youskevitch's honor. In addition to working closely with Hartford Ballet, Ms. Youskevitch was Ballet Mistress at BalletMet, Nevada Dance Theatre, and a coach for the New York International Ballet Competition. She brings over 35 years of experience staging ballets, coaching dancers, and teaching students to her esteemed role at Princeton Ballet School.
American Repertory Ballet's 2013 Gala and Reception will take place on April 20th in New Brunswick, NJ. It will begin at 6:00 pm with a performance at Crossroad Theatre, and continue with a 7:00 pm reception at the Heldrich Hotel across the street.