Who: Maria Youskevitch, ballet instructor at Princeton Ballet School, the Official School of American Repertory Ballet, since 2001.
Background: Youskevitch studied with teachers “who were part of the great Ballet Russe legacy” including her mother, Anna Scarpova, a soloist with Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo and a teacher in NY for over 50 years; and her father Igor, the Star of Ballet Russe and American Ballet Theatre (ABT).
Youskevitch danced as a soloist for over eight years with ABT and Maryland Ballet, and was also a principal ballerina with Igor Youskevitch’s “Ballet Romanique” and a dancer with Radio City Music Hall’s ballet company. Later, she assisted her father in setting many ballets on companies throughout the US. An ABT™ Certified Teacher, she was company teacher, rehearsal assistant and senior faculty member at Hartford Ballet and served as ballet mistress for BalletMet, Nevada Dance Theatre, and coach for the New York International Ballet Competition.
Career path: For Maria Youskevitch, daughter of legendary dancer, Igor Youskevitch, it was a natural progression from a professional performance career to teaching. “I knew teaching was important for my future; I wouldn’t be able to dance forever,” she explains. At Princeton Ballet School, Youskevitch applies over 35 years of experience and passion for quality instruction.
Special focus: “I teach classical ballet that’s based on the Russian Mariinsky Theatre prior to the Soviet regime, prior to Vaganova…with a little Cecchetti influence,” says Youskevitch. “I aim to give my students a well-rounded, classical education that doesn’t over-emphasize any one thing, so that they can do anything they are asked.”
Most satisfying moment: “I love seeing when my students have listened to my corrections, try to apply them in class, think about them, and continue to work on them over time,” says Youskevitch. “Then, one day, things just click.” She cites her student Karen Leslie Moscato, who trained at Princeton Ballet School from a young age and is now a professional dancer with American Repertory Ballet. “I was so proud of Karen when she danced Kirk Peterson’s ‘The Eyes that Gently Touch.’ She performed so beautifully, really incorporating the purity of classical technique to achieve a contemporary style.”
For fun: This coming year, Youskevitch is excited for a very special trip to Cuba. Alicia Alonso, the premiere ballerina of Cuba and Igor Youskevitch’s long-time dance partner, personally invited Ms. Youskevitch to theBallet Festival of Havana, which will be a celebration of what would be Igor Youskevitch’s 100th Birthday.
Maria Youskevitch, American Repertory Ballet’s Princeton Ballet School, 301 North Harrison Street, Princeton. 609-921-7758.
Princeton Ballet School, 29 North Main Street, Cranbury. 609-921-7758.
New Brunswick Studio/Administrative Offices, 7 Livingston Ave, New Brunswick. 732-249-1254.