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Tag Archives: Oleg Gorboulev

  • Interview with Mara Vinson & Oleg Gorboulev of Olympic Ballet Theatre

    Olympic Ballet Theatre Artistic Directors, Mara Vinson & Oleg Gorboulev. Photo credit: Alante Photography


    For the past 30 years, Olympic Ballet Theatre (OBT) in Edmonds has been synonymous with excellence in classical ballet training. The school maintains a hearty student roster, while their company productions such as “The Nutcracker” and “Coppélia – The Girl with Enamel Eyes”, consistently draw ticket holders in by the thousands.

    Over the past 5 years, former Pacific Northwest Ballet principal dancers, Mara Vinson and husband, Oleg Gorboulev served the local company in various capacities, ranging from guest teachers to members of the Board of Directors. Upon her retirement in June, OBT Founder and Artistic Director, Helen Wilkins generously turned the golden reigns of this beloved institution over to Vinson and Gorboulev, thus heralding the dawn of a new era of dedication, fresh artistry and renewed local pride.

    Class Act Tutu owner, Rebecca Ecklund and company blogger, Denise Opper recently sat down with the Mara and Oleg to discuss their transition from dancers to studio/company owners and their plans for the future…

    What prompted you to go from a career as dancers and teachers to owning your own studio?

    Mara: Well, we were on the faculty here at OBT and have been working with OBT for a good 5 years. In our summers off from PNB, we would teach [here at OBT]. Last year I was on the faculty full time and Helen approached us about her retiring and moving on…it just seemed like a good fit.

    Oleg: I was all over the place these last 5 years, teaching and driving everywhere, physically exhausting myself. And the idea to put so much work into something that was just ours was very rewarding - it was time to just settle down.

    Did you have any mentors or friends that you consulted with before taking on this project? Did they offer any advice besides, “Run! Don’t do it!”

    Oleg: [Laughs] We had talked with the schools in the area and I also spoke with a friend of mine who is running a school in downtown San Diego with his wife and asked what he thought. He said, “Take it, it sounds good. You should do it.” Both he and his wife are enjoying their lives and are enjoying what they do. Of course there were some people who said, “Don’t own your own school! Don’t do it!” I won’t say who but yeah, there were a few. But it’s a lot of work. If we were just by ourselves, we probably wouldn’t do it. It’s good that we have each other.

    Did it feel better to not have a professional company attached to the school?

    Oleg: Well, there are pros and cons. For one thing, it’s harder to teach professional dancers than it is children… [Smiles]

    Mara: It’s more rewarding working with children…

    Oleg: Right, because then you can see the children’s growth as they go along.

    Do you personally teach all the class levels then?

    Oleg: Ummm…not creative! [Laughs]

    Mara: The youngest age we teach is about 9 years old and up. But no, no Creative Movement class. We have a good teacher for that. Besides, we have our own baby at home…

    Mini Pantomime Master & Budding Train Engineer. Photo Credit: Alante Photography


    How old is your son?

    Mara: He just turned three. [Beaming with pride]

    Oh my! He is still a baby. How fun! So does he enjoy having you both close to home now?

    Oleg: Oh definitely. He likes hanging around the studio too.

    Mara: He was watching a pantomime class this summer where Oleg was teaching the girls Carabosse from Sleeping Beauty. He asked, “Papa, where’s my cane? Where’s my cane, Papa? Oh! Maybe it’s backstage!” [Laughs]

    Oleg: He owns this place! [Laughs] He has his own big train set that he takes around and sets up here. It’s really huge! It’s got all these parts to it and he just sets it up in the studio and plays. Yeah, he’s enjoying it.

    Is your little boy following in your footsteps? Has he expressed an interest in dance?

    Oleg: Oh, I don’t know about that. [Smiling, shaking his head.] But we’ll probably try him out here – just because it’s here. He has to go through ballet before he decides what he wants to do. [Laughs]

    Were your co-workers supportive of your plans to own your own school?

    Mara: Yep, they all said, “Hey you need someone to come and teach?” [Laughs]

    Oleg: This past summer we had Otto (Neubert) [Ballet Master, Pacific Northwest Ballet] and Benjamin (Griffiths) [Soloist, Pacific Northwest Ballet] here teaching over the summer. The kids really enjoyed that.

    What were some of your own personal fears or anxieties before taking this on?

    Mara: The not knowing…the “what if’s”, the “hugeness” of it all; all the work. But then when you’re here in the studio working you don’t even have time to worry. You just go.

    Oleg: We had maybe some anxiety during the months before we got started but I cannot remember what we were nervous about. It was exciting like, “What do we have to get done before we get started?” That sort of thing.

    Did you have anything to learn – business wise?

    Mara: Accounting! [Laughs and says with a hint of exasperation]

    Oleg: Quickbooks! She does input, I do output. I just hand out the checks. [Laughs]

    {Rebecca} You know, that’s the part I didn’t think I’d like either, but I do! I love the management side of running a business and learning new stuff all the time.

    Oleg: It’s probably not ever going to end. There’s always going to learn something new.

    Will you continue guest teaching?

    Oleg: We’re guest teaching all this week. But I after this – I don’t know.

    Mara: I think we’ll be too focused with everything here.

    Olympic Ballet School students. Photo Credit: Alante Photography


    Any future guesting plans…?

    Oleg: For Mara, maybe. I’ll do Drosselmeyer or Dr. Coppelius somewhere but I don’t want to put tights on. No more tights! [Laughs]

    Do you feel you have more artistic freedom now?

    Mara: Yes (nods) Here we can do what we want and teach what we know. When you’re teaching for other people, you have to teach what they tell you to teach.

    Will you change the school’s curriculum?

    Mara: No, not really.

    What are your plans now for OBT?

    Mara: Just to keep going up and producing nice dancers and…

    Oleg: Create some good quality shows and productions.

    Do you have any productions on the horizon for this next season?
    Mara: Nothing brand new but we want to show highlights from Sleeping Beauty, which is something they haven’t done before.

    In the past, Olympic really seemed to work with the theatrical aspect of dance, which I really like. Are you planning on bringing in any more of that in too?

    Mara: Story ballets? Oh yes. That for me was always very rewarding. We’ll definitely continue that!

    Do you have any advice for those who may be interested in owning their own school one day?

    Mara: I don’t know about advice since we’re just starting out but…

    Oleg: Right now I’d say, “Go for it!”

    Mara: Well, we may have to revise that statement a year from now [laughs] but yes, “Go for it!”

    To learn more about OBT Ballet Theatre or to enroll for fall classes, please visit Olympic

  • Olympic Ballet Theatre's Coppélia - The Girl with Enamel Eyes

    This weekend April 16-17th, Olympic Ballet Theatre in Edmonds, Washington will reveal its most impressive display of artistic collaboration to date; I'm referring to Coppélia - The Girl with Enamel Eyes.

    Mara Vinson as "Swanhilda". Photo courtesy Olympic Ballet Theatre


    The work itself, which took 5 years and nearly $50,000 to complete, marks the end of founding Artistic Director, Helen Wilkins 30 year reign and ushers new Artistic Directors Oleg Gorboulev and Mara Vinson (both formerly of Pacific Northwest Ballet) into the royal court. (Insert wild, thunderous applause coupled with showers of confetti here) :)

    "This charming light hearted ballet is one of the world’s best loved and carries with it the spirit of humor for the whole family. Honoring the legacy of Arthur Saint-Leo, who first produced the masterpiece in May 1870 at the Paris Opera, with music by Leo Delibes, this ballet is both classic and comedy. The importance of such a theatrical treasure is not lost on the OBT design team, “a project of this scope is exciting to do and we are happy to have the right amount of time to get it done well!” said Craig Wollam, technical director of the Seattle Scenic Studios." - Olympic Ballet Theatre Press Release.

    And not to toot our own horn but... (TOOT!), Class Act Tutu is proud to have played a part in this extraordinary production as well! Look for our Classical and Romantic tutus featured in the "Dawn" scene. :)

    The performances take place at Edmonds Center for the Arts on Saturday, April 16 at 2:00 & 7:00 PM and Sunday, April 17 at 3:00 PM. Prices are $20 for children 10 and under, $25 for students through high school and seniors, and $30 for adults. Service charges apply. All seats are reserved. Tickets for all performances may be purchased by calling ShowClix at 1.888.71.TICKETS, or online at

    In closing, we'd just like to say "MERDE" to all the dancers!!! We know you're going to be great! :)

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