This week, Ballet Fantastique would like to introduce and welcome one of our new company dancers, Lydia Rakov!
Photo: Robert Olsen
BFan: Where are you from?
Lydia: I am from Montclair NJ, which is about 12 miles from NYC.
BFan: At which dance schools did you train before coming to BFan?
Lydia: I trained originally with Theatre Arts Dance America with ABT dancers Elaine Kudo and Buddy Balou. I attended various summer programs including ABT, American Academy of Ballet, The Juilliard School, and The Bolshoi Ballet. I lastly went to the Conservatory of Performing Arts at Point Park University.
BFan: Describe your perfect day.
Lydia: This is a hard one! OK—in my perfect day I would begin my day with a hike with all of the dogs I own, come home and rehearse for a brand new ballet for several hours (preferably one that I have helped create), and then dinner and games with friends. That would be an excellent day!
BFan: Proudest moment?
Lydia: Joining Ballet Fantastique! I am very proud and honored to be a part of such an inventive and creative company.
Before this, I would have to say that my proudest moment would have to be when I was singled out in the 2013 ACDFA competition for exemplary artistry.
BFan: Wildest dream?
Lydia: To own a farm.
Lydia: Soft baked cookies. There is nothing better.
Lydia: Dr. Seuss, Svetlana Zahkarova, and Sutie Madison.
BFan: Name one thing you couldn’t live without.
Lydia: Besides dance—definitely dogs!
BFan: Most unforgettable onstage moment?
Lydia: Well, we all have good unforgettable moments, and bad unforgettable moments! So here’s an example of each:
In my ballet school’s Nutcracker, due to our small company, we usually just performed the 2nd half of the ballet—the divertissements. Our Marizpan was a shepherdess, who herded the “sheep” (2,3, and 4 year olds) as they did their little dance. Marzipan dances around them, using a cane as a prop to help “herd,” and to protect the sheep from the “wolf” that would appear every so often. (This prop was very large, and difficult to maneuver gracefully.)
One year, we brought the ballet to the local elementary schools. I happened to be Marzipan in this particular show, and I was having a hard time gathering all of the sheep—they were so excited about the show, they decided to abandon their line backstage! I was running around trying to catch them all, and I finally reigned them all in right before we went on. We walked out onstage and prepped in our starting positions when I realized I had forgotten the cane. Both hands hold the cane the whole time, and I had no set arms! However, I smiled and pretended it was supposed to be that way and made up arms the whole way through. I have no idea how good the rest of the piece looked—I was so preoccupied with my lack of a prop!
This past June, I had the pleasure to work with a Freejazz company in Pittsburgh, PA. With the director, I helped create a role in the company’s first ballet. The audience had no idea what to expect, and on opening night I led them through a fantastical journey in which dreams and reality converge and contract from one another. Something like this has not ever really been done before, and it was met with great acclaim and appreciation. Knowing that I helped create something completely new and unseen was a truly unforgettable experience.
Photo: Roses are Red
BFan: Dream role?
Lydia: Odette/Odile from Swan Lake.
BFan: Lastly, why Ballet Fantastique?
Lydia: I chose Ballet Fantastique because I firmly believe in their concept—creating contemporary dance from a basis in classical movement. At heart I am a classical ballerina through and through, but my natural dance style is that of a much more contemporary nature. I have always been searching for a company that is interested in this convergence of the two styles. I also love that BFan is creative, not afraid to try new things, and is interested in what each person has to offer.
Photo: Mike Cooper
Lydia Rakov is from northern New Jersey/New York City, where she trained with Elaine Kudo at Theatre Arts Dance America. She has spent summers studying with American Ballet Theatre, American Academy of Ballet, The Juilliard School, and The Bolshoi Ballet, as well as a spending a year with the Rochester City Ballet and their affiliated school. She graduated from the Conservatory of Performing Arts at Point Park University with a degree in both ballet and jazz, under the direction of Jason McDole, Dana Arey, Kiesha Lalama, Susan Stowe and Doug Benz. Lydia also danced with Pittsburgh’s freejazz company The Pillow Project, where she created and performed the role of The Green Swan, which explored the distorted line between classical and contemporary ballet. Lydia has also performed other soloist roles including the Dew Drop in the Lake Erie Ballet’s Nutcracker and as a soloist in the national 2013 ACDFA competition. In addition, she danced the role of the lead ballerina in the 2013 film Roses Are Red, which was submitted to the L.A. Film Festival and will appear in the October 2013 issue of Dance Spirit magazine. Lydia has taught ballet, jazz, and improvisational freejazz. She has worked as an assistant choreographer/rehearsal director for the Montclair High School Dance Company, as well as the CDC dancers at Point Park University. Her choreography has been performed nationally at the 2013 ACDFA competition.