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Published: Thursday, 4/14/2011

'An Evening at the Ballet' set for 2 weekend shows

BY SALLY VALLONGO
SPECIAL TO THE BLADE

When Long Island choreographer and teacher Frank Ohman comes to town to work with teacher and choreographer Cassandra Macino, he brings the best of American ballet legend George Balanchine with him.

After all, says the former New York City Ballet soloist, "I worked for 25 years with Balanchine."

Still active at 80, Ohman sustains a vital connection with the late co-founder of the New York City Ballet and the School of the American Ballet in a career that shows no signs of stopping. He is now director of the New York Dance Theatre.

Macino's school will present An Evening at the Ballet, set for 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday at the Franciscan Center at Lourdes College.

Fans of fine dance can see the latest results of the 30-year Ohman-Macino collaboration as well as the influence of the even longer Ohman-Ballanchine connection.

A Toledo native who studied classical ballet with Gail Grant-Ryan, Macino won a Ford Foundation scholarship to the School of the American Ballet when she was 12, an award which covered her studies through age 17. She also studied at the Joffrey Ballet, the American Ballet Theatre, and with Melissa Hayden and Wilhelm Burman.

Macino opened her studio in 1972 on West Sylvania Avenue. There, she has gained a reputation for setting high standards for her pupils and her annual productions.

Continued trips to New York City inspire her original choreography.

"I like to stay fresh," said Macino, who learns new steps and combinations during these visits.

A decade after opening her studio, she invited Ohman to visit and help set dances for her production. Still working with Balanchine, the visiting artist was allowed to take on such freelance assignments, he said.

Over the next 30 years, Ohman and Macino worked on a dozen ballets.

"I have always loved working with Cassandra," Ohman said during a February visit to her studio. "I just want to do quality work -- what's in my heart," said Macino, who also sponsors the Rose of Sharon Dance Ministry.

The weekend programs will comprise a mix of classical ballet en pointe to jazz and contemporary dance.

For this concert Ohman has created choreography for Souvenir de Florence, a traditional ballet work set to the fourth movement of Tchaikovsky's Sextet for Strings. "It's Neoclassical," Ohman said, "the music of Tchaikovsky is very balletic."

Macino has set a suite based on music by the Beatles, plus her own version of the Grand Valse from Sleeping Beauty, and Gifts of Scarlet, an original piece.

Tickets start at $14 at the Franciscan Center box office, 419-824-3999. For more information, contact the Cassandra School of Ballet, 419-475-0458.

Contact Sally Vallongo at svallongo@theblade.com.



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