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GAINESVILLE BALLET EXPANDS WITH NEW OWNER, DIRECTORS AND OPPORTUNITIES

GAINESVILLE, Va. – Gainesville Ballet School has been operating under new direction and ownership since 26 February 2013, as Elysabeth Muscat builds upon the strong foundation established over the past eight years.  Within weeks of taking the lead, Ms. Muscat has brought many early contributions to the arts landscape of this community.  The new owner has initiated membership with the Prince William County Arts Council and sought to establish a non-profit organization in the arts.  She has set the groundwork to build a professional company of dancers, engaged dancers of international acclaim to perform on the stage with local children, and recruited staff to join the flourishing programs for the performing arts.  In addition, she has brought efficiencies to business and organizational processes, and has erected the underpinnings for a major web site redesign.

Ms. Muscat has also taken steps to launch keystone initiatives of community outreach and education, an approach that is consistent with her historical success in the creation of strong and enduring programs that enrich the community.  In the truest tradition of “show-must-go-on” dedication, she has set the stage for a major performance with Act II of Swan Lake as the third ballet in the school’s repertory with only twelve weeks from the first moment at the helm.  Ms. Muscat is joined by Rafik Hegab, an internationally-acclaimed dancer, performer and choreographer who is now serving as Artistic Director of the award-winning ballet school.  As a team, Ms. Muscat – in vocal arts – and Mr. Hegab – in dance arts – represent a broad background in the performing arts.  Each has risen to acclaim within their respective fields of art on regional, national and international stages.

This April, two dancers at the level of Company 4 in the Youth Ballet Company successfully auditioned for Le Corsaire with American Ballet Theatre (ABT) at the Kennedy Center.  This is the second time for each ballerina to perform on-stage at this performing arts venue, and reflects the rapidly-growing reputation and proficiency of the pre-professional dancers at Gainesville Ballet School.

In the summer of 2013, the school will move into a brand new 4,700-square-foot facility with two spacious state-of-the-art studios.  The international faculty is comprised of professional dancers with degrees in dance.  The curriculum will be expanded to include more levels of ballet, pas de deux and variations, as well as character, modern, jazz, and tap.  To learn more about the classes, programs and performances of Gainesville Ballet School, visit www.gainesvilleballetschool.org.

     The new owner has a strong foundation in the arts and arts management, built upon a lifetime of experiences both on the stage and behind the scenes.  As a leader in the field of arts management, Elysabeth Muscat founded Baltimore Ballet in 2000, and served as the Managing Director for twelve years.  Under her direction, the school grew from 50 to 300 students, and she established a professional non-profit company that hosted such stars as Evgenia Obraztsova of the Mariinsky (Kirov) Ballet, and ABT Principals and Soloists Michele Wiles, Stella Abrera, and Veronika Part, along with many others.  She is a former opera singer who performed leading roles at the Zurich Opera, Staatsoper Prague, Vienna Kammeroper, Theater der Stadt Koblenz and on many other stages across the globe.  She is the Chair of the Peabody Preparatory Voice Department, and offers private voice lessons in Gainesville, Virginia.  She is actively involved in the National Association of Teachers of Singing, and is currently the State Governor and President of the MD-DC Chapter.  Ms. Muscat has earned a Master of Music in Voice from the Mannes College of Music and a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Tulane University.  She has won numerous awards for voice, taught Master Classes and served as a judge for vocal competitions that span the nation.

Maria-Monica Koo founded Gainesville Ballet School in Gainesville, Virginia in 2005 and served as the Artistic Director until February of 2012.  Since its inception, the school has offered ballet instruction in the Vaganova method taught by Petipa-Vaganova for students from age three to adult.  Gainesville Ballet features local talent from Bristow, Broad Run, Front Royal, Gainesville, Haymarket, Manassas, Warrenton, and surrounding areas, with a distinctive style of discipline and grace that radiates from teacher, to student, to community, and beyond.  Many dancers travel from disparate locations to study in the program; the school has drawn students from across six counties in Virginia for dance instruction: Prince William, Fairfax, Fauquier, Loudoun, Warren, and Frederick.

On 6 May 2012, Gainesville Ballet School was honored as Outstanding Arts Organization during the 2012 Seefeldt Awards for Arts Excellence.  Each year, the Seefeldt Awards recognize individuals and organizations who have contributed to the strength and success of the local arts.  The ceremony was held as part of Arts Alive! 2012 in the Hylton Performing Arts Center with special guest emcees, Bob Madigan of WTOP and Tracee Wilkins of NBC4.

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