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Cassandra Macino has always been a study in contrasts: beautiful, gifted, creative, and warm, yet determined, direct, diligent, a total stickler for detail.
Her late father, William Macino, Toledo’s best-known cobbler, understood that ballet would be a wonderful fit for his daughter while tapping all those contradictory qualities and giving her a life of challenge and reward.
He steered her into the field, when she was a young girl. It was a good move.
“I love what I do,” Macino said fervently last month at her Cassandra School of Ballet on Sylvania Avenue, right across the street from the shoe repair shop her father ran for decades until his death in 2002.
She’s marking her 40th anniversary as a ballet instructor, studio owner, choreographer, artistic director, and producer with a concert this weekend. Shows are slated for 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday in the Maumee Performing Arts Center, 1147 Saco St., at Maumee High School.
Company dancers will perform classical ballet and contemporary numbers, with the highlight to be the premiere of a new work by Macino, 40th Anniversary Waltz.
Macino is one of seven children born to Bill and Helen Macino. In the beginning, she says, her father sought to soft-pedal his Italian heritage by taking the name Mason. “No one could spell Macino,” recalls his daughter.
Toledoans, though, were quick studies.
“When I was in third grade, my father changed it back to Macino,” she said. Already, her father, a lover of opera with a tenor voice she likens to Andrea Boccelli, had discovered the Toledo Opera and was a stalwart and generous member of its chorus.
“He made all its belts, boots, vests, and helmets,” his daughter recalls.
All Macino children were expected to develop their artistic talents. For daughters Cassandra and Mary, ballet was the choice. Cassandra studied with Hannah Hauser, who directed dance for the Toledo and Dayton operas under Lester Freedman.
By her early teens, Macino was being scouted by major dance companies for study and performance opportunities.
Famed ballerina Suzanne Farrell discovered Macino first and brought her to George Balanchine’s famed School of the American Ballet in New York City.
“From age 12 to 17 I studied there on a Ford Foundation scholarship,” said Macino. She returned to Toledo, where she established her own company, first in a studio adjacent to her father’s shop, then across the street in her current location.
Today, Macino runs one of the most highly-regarded dance schools in the area, offering classes in classical French, Italian, and Russian ballet methods, plus jazz and contemporary. A devout Christian, she also includes aspects of sacred dance in classes and performance.
Also on this weekend’s programs will be revivals such as Hot, Hot, Hot, a tribute to local firefighters, and a new jazz work, What a Feeling.
Tickets are $16-$25 at showtix4U.com.
Contact Sally Vallongo firstname.lastname@example.org