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Moraga takes the helm at Theatre of Ballet Arts

November 28th, 2011 10:14 am by Staff Report

Moraga takes the helm at Theatre of Ballet Arts

Fernando Moraga first came to the Bristol area as a guest performer and instructor.

Bristol’s Theatre of Ballet Arts, Ballet Arts Academy and In the Spotlight are all now under new ownership and directorship. Professional dancer Fernando Moraga is the new artistic director for the non-profit Theatre of Ballet Arts, and the new owner of Ballet Arts Academy dance studio and In the Spotlight, an in-house store for dancers.


With the recent retirement of former Artistic Director Jo Rosser, the board of directors of Theatre of Ballet Arts elected Moraga to replace Rosser. Moraga, along with his partner, Susan Oliver, in turn purchased Ballet Arts Academy dance studio and In the Spotlight from Rosser, who is now looking forward to traveling and spending time as a "grandmother." Rosser will continue to teach dance and will remain as president of the non-profit board of directors. Oliver serves as the office manager for the dance studio and In the Spotlight.


A native of Chile, Moraga did not start dancing until he was 19 years-old. Two short years later, he joined a classical ballet company in Santiago where he danced for six years. A born dancer, Moraga was then invited to join the prestigious Houston Ballet as a soloist. He has danced internationally and has additionally held soloist positions with the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre and Ballet Florida. As a dancer, Moraga has been a featured dancer in many new works and world premieres in such renowned venues as Moscow’s Bolshoi Theatre, The Sadler’s Wells in London and the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C.


Moraga first came to the Bristol area as a guest performer and instructor. He found Bristol and the surrounding area similar in climate and appearance to the southern part of his home country, Chile. After years of dancing around the world, Moraga decided to turn his attention to Dance Pedagogy and choreography and decided to make Bristol his new home.


"This area makes me feel at home," Moraga said. "The dancers Jo has trained are very impressive and well-trained. They have so much ability and condition. They have the drive to dance. That is why I decided to stay here and this is the best studio in the area."


Rosser is elated to have someone of Moraga’s stature take over the school she founded in 1997. "We are thrilled to have someone of Mr. Moraga’s caliber take the helm," she said. "His extraordinary talent, vision and leadership will bring a new level of excellence. Never has the Theatre of Ballet Arts had a better point of potential, and Mr. Moraga will create a signature that will set The Theatre of Ballet Arts apart."


After assuming his new role and business, Moraga has hit the ground running. His plans include renovating the dance studio and equipping it with springboards to keep the students injury free. Along with classical ballet instruction, Moraga will add classes in tap, jazz and modern dance. There will also be conditioning classes for both dancers and their parents, including pilates, yoga and gyrotonic.


"Pilates, yoga and gyrotonic are all very complimentary to a dancer’s education and fitness and things that they would need to develop their core and keep them injury-free. They are also good for everybody else, so mom can take a pilates class while her daughter is in class," Moraga said.


Keeping a dancer injury-free is a top consideration for Moraga. For this reason, he will be expanding the dance store, "In the Spotlight," and will carry the "Fuzi" brand of ballet and pointe shoes created individually for each dancer’s feet. With the addition of yoga and pilates to the instruction, In the Spotlight will also carry a good selection of pilates and yoga apparel including prAna, Lucy brands and others.


With a goal to keep his student’s injury-free, Moraga individualizes his instruction to meet the needs of each student. "Most of the teachers, they teach one way and that is wrong from the beginning because we are all different," he said. "I think the best part of our instruction is we really take care of the students. We personalize the instruction because they are all different. There are some rules, but it should be more about what the dancer has to offer and then we go forward."


Rosser added, "I can already see improvement in the girls under Fernando’s instruction."


Residents will get a chance to see Moraga’s work in the company’s upcoming production of "The Nutcracker," which will be performed Dec. 8-11 at the Paramount Center for the Arts. He has created new choreography for the show, and the performance also carries a new storyline.


For more information on the Theatre of Ballet Arts, Ballet Arts Academy or class information, call 276-644-9465. Tickets for "The Nutcracker" are currently available and can be purchased through the Paramount Center for the Arts by calling 423-274-8920.

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