Inspiring Dreams and Uniting by Dance

In 2011, Ekaterina Shchelkanova, a graduate of the Vaganova Ballet Academy and soloist of the American Ballet Theatre, together with Anton Boitsov, founded Open World Dance Foundation, with the mission of promoting the Russian ballet school and helping to nurture the creativity of children deprived of parental care.

Mikhaila’s Story

After being part of the OWDF family since she came to the 2013 Summer Intensive in St. Petersburg, Russia, and completing a year of study at the Vaganova Academy, Mikhaila continued her international adventures in St. Petersburg studying Russian language and dancing with a a local program where we served as Artistic Directors.  With pride, we share her success at the Hermitage Theater of St. Petersburg, Russia where she danced the role of Masha (or Clara/Marie) in “The Nutcracker” and Princess Aurora in ” Sleeping Beauty”.  Mikhaila continues her journey with Open World Dance Foundation as an assistant to Artistic Directors and performs as a Step Sister in our “Cinderella” productions.

Tatiana’s Story

As we worked with orphanages to deliver ballet training to the kids, we met a beautiful 11-year-old girl with the classic body and facility that Vaganova Academy looks for. Her name is Tatiana Koltsova. That year, she asked the orphanage for pointe shoes for Christmas. Doing their best, they gave her a pair of ice skates. When Ms. Shchelkanova heard this, she gave Tatiana a pair of pointe shoes from when Ms. Shchelkanova joined Mariinsky Theater. With coaching from Open World Dance Foundation and after attending OWDF’s first summer intensive in Sochi, Russia, Tatiana was accepted to Vaganova Academy in September 2012. Orphanage psychologists noted that seeing an orphan break the cycle had a far-reaching impact on other orphans. For Tatiana, it has opened the world. It has not always been easy. She needs our ongoing support: tutoring to help catch up her academics, a home during school breaks, and encouragement. We have also brought her to each of the subsequent summer intensives providing costs of travel and training. She continues her studies at Vaganova Academy, dances at the Mariinsky Theatre and has friends from multiple countries including Latvia and the United States. With our support and continued care Tatiana receives private training to keep her at the best level possible in ballet and other classes. It hasn’t been an easy journey but, Tatiana has become a beautiful teenager full of great dreams and believes in people and life!

Zina’s Story

Open World Dance Foundation founders continue to visit orphanages and look for additional candidates for professional ballet training. In the spring of 2013, we found an eight year old with a smile that lights up the room and with a deep desire to dance. She attended the 2013 summer intensive in St. Petersburg and brought a studio full of instructors, students and parents to tears when she received her first pair of ballet shoes from the Foundation. A month later, Zinaida Novikova was accepted to the preparatory program at Vaganova Academy. She was not admitted to the Vaganova Ballet Academy but joined another serious ballet program in St. Petersburg and, we continue to support her ballet training that she loves so much.

Lubov’s Story

Lubov was Tatiana’s roommate at the orphanage. She doesn’t aspire to dance but enjoys her ballet classes. She was one of the four orphans that travelled to New York in 2012 with Open World Dance Foundation thanks to the help of the Baryshnikov Foundation. The experience had a dramatic impact on her. She went from being a mediocre student to being the top of her class with a deep interest in studying English. Her love for languages began on the trip to New York. For the 2012-13 school year, she was selected to go to London to learn English. She served as a translator at our 2013 summer intensive in St. Petersburg. She is an example how ballet training can help dreams beyond dance come true.

Daniel’s Story

The boy shown praying in the photo above is another example of dreams beyond dance coming true. While on the trip to New York, Daniel began creating pictures as thank you’s for patrons of the gala and those who had made his trip possible. His pictures showed a natural talent and he was accepted to the preeminent art school in St. Petersburg. His artwork was selected to represent St. Petersburg at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

More to come….

We are delighted to keep in touch with our past summer intensive participants and to share the following highlights with you. Marisa (Mikhaila’s sister) is a member of Kansas City Ballet’s KCB II; Helena Oliver, now dances in the collegiate dance program of Butler University as a member of Butler Ballet; Jessica Overton, from South Africa, excelled at several competitions in 2014 including the International Ballet Competition in Varna. She is now dancing with Universal Ballet and living in Seoul, South Korea.

Currently we are working with a group of talented dancers who traveled with us to Houston and now Florida to train and be part of our performances of Cinderella. Our work with them has led us to create our Elite Training Program.