World-traveling Gilbert dancer brings ‘Giselle’ to Chandler - East Valley Tribune: Performance

World-traveling Gilbert dancer brings ‘Giselle’ to Chandler

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Posted: Friday, April 11, 2014 10:30 am | Updated: 12:30 pm, Wed Apr 30, 2014.

A betrothed lover, a heartbroken maiden and a resurrection fueled by the passion of love make up the Youth American Dance Academy’s performance of “Giselle.” One of ballet’s renowned stories, it will be showcased April 12-13 at Chandler Center for the Arts.

The show’s original choreography is difficult to perform, but the story is so easy for audiences to follow that Bulgarian-born choreographer Georgi Rusafov and his wife, Tara, were ready to stage the classical challenge — a first for the newly opened Gilbert studio.

Youth American Dance Academy (YADA) opened three years ago after the Rusafovs found themselves pining to give back their talents to up and coming generations of dancers. But opening a studio wasn’t the first milestone for Rusafov in his classical ballet career.

After training in Bulgaria for most of his youth, then flying to the States to audition for Ballet Arizona at 19, Rusafov has spent most of his life dancing. He received an advanced education in teaching ballet and choreography as well as toured across Europe. But he soon came back to Arizona, where he met his wife — a trained dancer as well — and created a studio for classical ballet training.

“(‘Giselle’) is a romantic, dramatic and traditional story. It’s one of my favorites. Everything from the music to the tale itself is moving,” says Rusafov. “(The dancers) have been practicing for this performance for two and a half months and are very excited. The big production and the atmosphere in the Chandler Center are the reasons why we have the studio. We are trying to give (our students) a taste of a real company putting on ‘Giselle.’”

Each of the dancers setting foot on the stage will range in age from 6 to 22, and even Rusafov himself will be performing in the role of Albrecht, the young Duke that is caught in a love triangle between his arranged marriage and his true love.

Rusafov recalls how his international training and experience has influenced the mission statement of YADA.

“I trained in Bulgaria, but one of the most memorable experiences was when I traveled to Spain and Italy, where I trained in the sun and rain during the summer on some of the largest opera stages,” he says. “When you are on stage with all the dancers surrounding you, you can feel the bond ballet creates. That’s why dancing and ballet is my life, the reason why my wife and I wanted to create a studio — to give dancers professional training and the opportunity to be a part of a large production.”

Whether you’re a complete novice or a diehard fan of the art, Rusafov assures attendees that “Giselle” will be a great experience that will surprise those in attendance.

For more information on Giselle and YADA, visit

• Cissy, a junior at Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, is an intern for GetOut. Contact her at (480) 898-6514 or

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