The International Ballet of the Stars presented over the weekend by the Glushko's Academy of Arts had a phenomenal turnout, drawing an estimated crowd of over a thousand spectators for the two-day event based on ticket sales.
Dr. Gene Eagle-Oden, academy president, said this is the best turnout they've ever had for the ballet concert, which is now on its 10th year.
“This goes to show that the people of Saipan are coming of age,” Oden said in an interview after Sunday's show.
Oden said the hundreds of man-hours they put in for the $70,000 show become worth it when the audiences come up to them to say how much they appreciate the performances of both local and visiting ballerinas.
“People come to thank us for bringing something classical to Saipan. They say there's nothing like this on island,” he said.
He noted that the six ballerinas who came from Russia and Japan for the annual show perform pro grata-for free-as a tribute to academy instructor Anna Glushko who has been dancing ballet for most of her life.
This year's event was marred by a burglary, with the visiting ballerinas losing their cash and other valuable items such as an iPhone.
Oden shared the “unfortunate” incident during an intermission during Sunday night's show. He recounted how the organizers were compelled to make the young dancers stay in a house rental in Koblerville since hotels on island are fully occupied.
Burglars got into the house and took off with the dancers' prized possessions they brought with them for what was supposed to be a nice island vacation that turned into a bad dream.
“When you're at their age, when you lose your smartphone and other electronics as well as cash, and you're not being paid to be here, you've lost your whole life. It's a great loss for these girls,” said Oden, adding that he and Glushko had to console the ballerinas until the wee hours of the morning because of the incident.
But unfortunate situations can turn into a positive experience. As soon as Oden announced how the burglary victims need help for the duration of their stay, community members approached the organizers to donate whatever amount they can or offer services such as transportation and even water sports activities just to help the ballerinas cope with the incident.
“I have a pocket full of checks, dollar bills, and business cards from people who want to offer these girls assistance in any form. I even had one young girl who came up to me and offered her school allowance for the girls,” said Oden.
“This is the finest community in the world for its demonstration of overwhelming kindness, generosity, and support. If the community have not come around these girls like a warm blanket and make them feel comfortable, they wouldn't start to feel better,” Oden told Saipan Tribune.
While authorities have yet to arrest any suspect, Oden expressed hope that the public will also help apprehend whoever is responsible for the burglary.
The weekend show featured husband-and-wife ballet dancers Alexey Nasadovich and Margarita Rudina, who brought along their daughter, Eva, for one of her first public performances. The promising ballerina is currently on training at the world-famous Vaganova Ballet Academy.
This year's concert was also highlighted by performances from Cerinn Hwang and other Glushko's Academy students who continue to hone their skills in ballet under the tutelage of Glushko.
Organizers expressed their appreciation to all sponsors and donors that made it possible to stage the International Ballet of the Stars.