PITTSFIELD, Maine — The Bossov Ballet Theatre Program has brought a lot to Pittsfield in its 15-year partnership with Maine Central Institute, a semi-private boarding school in Pittsfield. To count a few:
— Andre Bossov, a renowned Russian-born ballet master.
— Students from across Maine, 16 states and 24 countries, who attend MCI and study ballet more than two hours a day, six days a week.
— Stellar ballet performances by up-and-comers with worldwide tours in their futures.
— A cultural influence that would otherwise be absent.
Gentry Fielder, a Maine Central Institute junior from Texas, has studied ballet for 10 years, most of it in Dallas, New York City and Boston. Though he’s the only male in the Bossov program this year, he said he’s found more acceptance in Pittsfield than anywhere else.
“I mean I used to live in New York, and the kids here are more open to ballet than they were in those other places,” said Fielder, who is trying to finish high school a year early so he can study ballet at the college level as soon as possible. “For a small town in Maine, it’s got some culture because of this program.”
The ballet students gave a couple hundred students and community members a peek Friday evening at what they’ve been working so hard on. Their hourlong exhibition, in a gymnasium transformed convincingly into a stage with a brilliant red background, swept through dances from “Sleeping Beauty,” “Swan Lake” and others, as well as some of Bossov’s own choreography. In pairs, quartets and larger groups they spanned the sublime and the serious, garnering several standing ovations.
“The breadth and width and reach of ballet is large indeed,” said Col. Michael Wyly, a former U.S. Marine who founded the Bossov Ballet Theatre and serves as its charismatic executive director.
Yeah, you read that right.
“If you can learn classical ballet, you can learn anything in dance,” he continued during a running commentary between numbers. Bossov and his assistant, Russian-born Natalya Getman, who also has devoted her life to ballet, stayed mostly behind the scenes.
MCI Headmaster Chris Hopkins also addressed the audience, which included about 20 Bossov alumni.
“I can’t tell you how proud I am to have you all here,” he said. “It’s a reminder of how this program over the last 15 years has touched so many people.”
MCI Admissions Director Clint Williams, who was in the audience, said MCI is an easy sell for serious ballet students, even ones who are more used to the cities.
“What is most unique is the excellence of a pre-professional ballet school and a top-notch prep school education in the same place,” said Williams, who added that Bossov students in general also excel in the classroom, including some who have been among the top-ranked graduates.
Katrina Huckersby, a senior who is from the Washington, D.C., area, said she is enjoying her time in Maine.
“It a private school where I can get a good education,” she said. “But I’m really here to study ballet with Andre and Natalya.”