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Spotlight: School of Russian Ballet swims under the sea

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  • | 4:00 a.m. March 19, 2014
Lauren Henry, 18, and professional dancer David Martinez Corso
Lauren Henry, 18, and professional dancer David Martinez Corso
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The School Of Russian Ballet is quiet. The orchestral recording of “The Little Mermaid” plays over the studio’s speakers. Handsome Cuban dancer David Martinez Corso lifts his American female counterpart Lauren Henry to her feet as if her legs are asleep and just beginning to work. This is the scene where Ariel (Henry) first encounters Prince Eric (Corso) for the first time since getting legs.

This is not the only first. It’s the first time the Ukrainian ballet “The Little Mermaid” will be performed in the United States. Vadim Fedotova originally choreographed it for the Kiev Ballet. It follows the traditional Hans Christian Andersen story.

This is why Darya Fedotova, former soloist with Sarasota Ballet, has permission to present the ballet at her School of Russian Ballet — she’s the choreographer’s daughter. Although, her dancers are much younger.

“This ballet is for professional dancers and for a professional company,” Fedotova says.

“And, our students are doing really well,” Sergiy Mykhaylov says.

Fedotova and her husband, Sergiy Mykhaylov, are co-owners and co-artistic directors of the School of Russian Ballet. They are also both former professional ballet dancers. Every year they present three productions, and the spring performance always features a guest artist. The school has more than 100 other students, but only the nearly 80 students, ages 7 and up, will participate in this performance.

This year the 26-year-old guest artist is a former member of the Cuban National Ballet, David Martinez Corso. He is commuting from Orlando, where he has been studying with Fedotova’s parents at their Russian Ballet School. Since leaving Cuba, he’s been making guest appearances until he finds a permanent position. He does not speak much English but, fortunately, the French terminology of dance is universal.

“It works out pretty well,” says Henry. “We make it work.”

Henry is 18 years old. She’s studying business administration at USF Sarasota-Manatee but has been a long-time student of Mykhaylov’s. She’s been a part of the school since the couple opened it in 2010, but has trained under Mykhaylov for much longer.

Maybe it’s why she keeps securing the lead roles. Henry danced the title in “Cinderella” and “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” and has played Clara and the Sugar Plum Fairy in “The Nutcracker.”

Mykhaylov and Fedotova made all the sets and costumes.

“It’s crazy — too much work,” Mykhaylov says. “Our garage is like (full of crafts and chaos).”

Fedotova says it’s a beautiful show. She says when the Ukrainian ballet performs it, even the little children in the audience pay attention for the full duration — they love it.

“Everyone loves ‘The Little Mermaid,’” Fedotova says.

‘The Little Mermaid’
When: 6 p.m. Saturday, April 5
Where: Braden River High School Auditorium, 6545 53rd Ave. E., Bradenton
Cost: Ages 3 to 11 $11; ages 12 and up $20; VIP $25
Contact: Call 258-5277 or visit


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