June 15, 2013 | By Christine Cole, Correspondent
MOUNT DORA — Kathryn Wheeler wants the world for her students at the Mount Dora School of Ballet.
Wheeler, who founded the school in 2002, has brought internationally known teachers of ballet to Lake to give students a taste of professional ballet theater.
This week, she added prestige to her school by hosting a workshop for ballet teachers from across the U.S. with Victoria Schneider, one of only three ballet teachers nationwide to be certified by the Vaganova Ballet Academy in St. Petersburg, Russia.
“Victoria is known internationally,” Wheeler said. “She has taught all over the world. When people see that she will have a workshop in Lake County, it opens that door. This brings to my small town the big-city feeling in the arts.”
Schneider, who is on the faculty of the rigorous Harid Conservatory in Boca Raton, instructed teachers in the early years of Vaganova training, aimed at children ages 10 and 11.
“You can’t study at the Vaganova Academy anymore,” Wheeler said. “Schneider was part of the last class to include foreigners. That’s why her achievement is very significant.”
The method, pronounced Va-GONE-o-va, emphasizes precise movements that express clean lines with an undlerlying softness. Named for Agrippina Vaganova, the method fuses romantic elements of traditional French techniques with the athleticism of Italian technique.
“Many professional dancers come from a Russian syllabus,” Wheeler said. “Choreographers like a strong, clean slate.”
Schneider will return to the Mount Dora School of Ballet each year until the teacher-students have learned the theories of teaching students up to 18 years old.
Because Wheeler’s studios have one-way widows, she invited her students to stop by and watch Schneider work. Training sessions ended Friday, with today set aside for testing.
“This helps answer my question, ‘How can I open the wider world of ballet to my own community?’ ” Wheeler said.
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