‘You have to follow your dream’



By Jay Harvey


Alyona Yakovleva has worked to create a distinctive approach to dance training and public performance for three years at the helm of the Indiana Ballet Conservatory. When the school displays its public face, in her view the point is to present works that showcase the students’ strengths and interests.

The latest fruit of that focus is the production of “Pulse,” which can be seen this weekend at the Tobias Theater in the Indianapolis Museum of Art.

Based on Yakovleva’s growing interest in percussion (spurred by her musician-husband Daryl Randall) “it’s a showcase of our work in contemporary choreography and an education opportunity for the students,” she said.

Yakovleva’s history in the area goes back more than a decade. The Russian-born dancer and choreographer was first associated here with Ballet Internationale and its Clara Noyes Academy, and had to scramble to hold on to students and her ballet dreams when the professional troupe collapsed in 2005. After a reorganization of the first company and school she formed, she has been artistic director of the Indiana Ballet Conservatory since 2010.

“I think the audience will see themselves in this piece,” Yakovleva said. “When we first did it (in 2012), there were tears and there was smiling.”

The effect, she said, was produced by the new work’s story line: the counterpoint of male and female dancers seen at three stages of their lives – a boy interested in drumming and a girl interested in dancing. As they mature, they come to see the advantage and beauty of each other’s art form.

The story line raises questions about the choices young people attracted to the arts may have to make as they consider their future: “What if I would not change my dream and my way to succeed? What if I would follow what I really love?” is how Yakovleva put those questions.

“It’s not an easy way to success if you do art,” she said.

Nearly 40 dancers take part in the production, which is set to both live and recorded music centered on the Randall’s drumming. Two guest artists will take part: IBC graduate Alex Ray, who is now studying theatre at Ball State University, and Christopher Bibbs, a former student now hoping to join the Army.

Ray’s passion for drumming and dance helped inspire Yakovleva’s choreography. So did the dual interests of a current IBC student, Ethan Holder, 12. Both will play a drum set in addition to dancing in “Pulse” performances, supplementing Randall’s percussion playing.

Contemporary ballet techniques are showcased in the production, which Yakovleva is using as a vehicle to shed light on what the IBC offers through its resident choreographer and instructor of contemporary ballet, Bulgarian-born Sergey Sergiev.

“‘Pulse’ is about life,” Yakovleva said. “No matter how difficult to meet that goal you have, never, ever give up. It’s going to be tears, happiness, success and disappointment. You have to see the goal and you have to follow your dream.”


Indiana Ballet Conservatory ● “Pulse: Dancing to the Beat of Our Own Drummer” ● 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Oct. 12 ● Tobias Theater, Indianapolis Museum of Art, 4000 Michigan Rd. ● tickets: $23-$28 ● www.indianaballetconservatory.org