Arts and Entertainment

Arlington ballet dancer trains in Russia

Sarah Cook, of Arlington, back row third from left, and 13 other dancers with the International Ballet Theater of Kirkland experience the grandeur of the Russian Imperial Court in a study and cultural tour of St. Petersburg recently. The dance company presented “Coppelia” in Bellevue last weekend. - Courtesy photo
Sarah Cook, of Arlington, back row third from left, and 13 other dancers with the International Ballet Theater of Kirkland experience the grandeur of the Russian Imperial Court in a study and cultural tour of St. Petersburg recently. The dance company presented “Coppelia” in Bellevue last weekend.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

A 17-year-old ballet dancer from Arlington, Sarah Cook had the opportunity to visit St. Petersburg, Russia, as part of a study and cultural tour during Spring Break.

The trip was organized by the International School of Classical Ballet, in Kirkland, where Sarah is a member of the International Ballet Theatre’s professional development program.

Cook and 12 other young dancers studied at the Vaganova Ballet Academy, affiliated with the world-famous Mariinsky Ballet and witnessed a full performance by the ballet. The Mariinsky is one of the world’s leading ballet companies and where Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker” made its debut in 1892.

“It was amazing,” Cook said.

Cook performed in four productions this past weekend with two Russian dancers, Dmitry Zavalishin and Maria Makarenko, of St. Petersburg, who came to the Pacific Northwest to dance the leading roles of “Coppelia” at Meydenbauer Theatre in Bellevue. She danced the parts of Chinese, Mazurka and the Time Waltz, she said.

Cook has performed in two Nutcrackers and two Dracula ballets and this year in “Giselle” since she joined the IBT three years ago.

Although it was cold in Russia, Cook said she enjoyed the experience of exploring St. Petersburg.

“My favorite building was the Church of the Spilled Blood,” she said. “Oh my gosh, I can’t even describe the mosaics, they were so amazing.”

“The school takes a group every other year and whoever didn’t go last time got to go this time,” said Cook, who is a junior at Arlington High School.

“I started dancing at age 4 with Alderwood Dance Spectrum,” Cook said.

“Personally, I believe that this program provides the best classical ballet training,” she said.

“And it’s the only one with a professional development group.”

Founded in 2001 by artistic director Vera Altunina, a former dancer with the Kirov Ballet, and renowned choreographer, IBT is committed to the preservation of classical ballet repertoire through the presentation of full-length productions that reflect traditional as well as original choreography.

The ISCB offers classical ballet in the Russian tradition, modern dance, character, jazz and tap and its professional program is open by audition only.

For information on the ISCB visit www.interballetschool.com and for more information on the IBT and its performances, visit www.interballettheatre.org.

Sarah is the daughter of Tim and Jill Cook.

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