International dancers to pirouette onto Loyola’s stage

Starlight Williams

Loyola will be getting more than 15 minutes of fame next weekend when the ballet department hosts the Valentina Kozlova International Ballet Semifinals Competition.

Founded in Boston in 2011, The Valentina Kozlova International Ballet Semifinals Competition will be held for the first time in the U.S. from Feb. 27 to March 1 in Loyola’s Roussel Hall. The Loyola ballet department’s 50th anniversary celebration will coincide with the competition.

Loyola ballet instructor and executive committee member for the competition, Leigh Brockman-Horowitz, said both New Orleans and Loyola have strong connections to the world of ballet.

She said that Olga Smoak, ‎president of the New Orleans International Ballet Conference, is a good friend of Loyola’s ballet department. So when the competition was looking for a place to host, Loyola was her first choice.

Bari Bellard, theatre arts sophomore and company manager for the competition, said that working with the different coordinators of the event was a valuable experience.

“The competition group has been great because everyone has been so on top of their game. You kind of have the best of the best sitting in the room coordinating how all of this is going to come together,” Bellard said.

The three-day competition, which is open to the public, will host a variety of dancers from across the U.S. competing in either classical or contemporary dance.

Additionally, Kozolva will be teaching a master class in Roussel Hall on Feb. 27 from 9:30 to 11:00 a.m. for ages 10 to 14 and again on Feb. 28 from 9:30 to 11:00 a.m. for ages 15 to 26.

Loyola dance students like Samantha Barb, psychology freshman, will have the opportunity to volunteer at the competition.

“I am thrilled to be able to watch and learn from the many talented dancers who will be competing. As my ballet instructor Laura Zambrano tells us, we can always learn by observing,” Barb said.

Brockman-Horowitz said that although Loyola has had some struggles in recent years, this is exactly the recognition the school needs right now.

“To have something of this caliber, which is an international ballet competition, brings in a whole new stream people to our campus,” said Brockman-Horowitz. “It makes people aware that we are arts supportive.”

The Valentina Kozlova International Ballet Competition Finals will commence May 26-30 at the Symphony Space Theatre  in New York City.

“I feel very blessed that I was here at the right moment in Loyola’s ballet history to be apart of this,” Brockman-Horowitz said. “I am so excited for the country and for the world to see what we can do here at Loyola.”