Broome Native Dances Her Way to Bulgaria

Views on BG | December 14, 2010, Tuesday // 07:58|  views

Bulgarian ballet relies on pure classical training, without the modern influences of choreographer George Balanchine, according to Danita Emma. Photo by BGNES

By Jennifer Micale

Press & Sun-Bulletin

Dance has carried Binghamton native Danita Emma not only across the country, but across the world.

Emma, a 1970 graduate of Binghamton Central High School, recently spent 10 days in Bulgaria, teaching master classes at a conservatory in Burgas and then the National Ballet of Bulgaria in the capital, Sofia.

As part of the Eastern bloc for 45 years, Bulgaria's ballet companies resemble those in Russia, she noted. Bulgarian ballet relies on pure classical training, without the modern influences of choreographer George Balanchine.

"Some have never seen a Balanchine ballet," said Emma, who is currently artistic director at Syracuse University's Summer Dance Intensive. "They do the classics."

The opportunity was initiated by Bulgarian native Momchil Mladenov, Emma's assistant director in the Summer Dance Intensive and a principal dancer with the National Ballet. Emma was invited because she's an expert in ballet pedagogy and a master teacher whose work has been compared to the legendary Russian masters.

Emma, who trained with Eastern bloc teachers, will return to Bulgaria in June. She's also forging partnerships to bring Bulgarian dancers to SU's summer dance program.

"It's a cultural exchange," she said.

Emma trained with the Pennsylvania Ballet and American Ballet Theatre and attended the Boston Conservatory of Music before earning a B.F.A. in dance from Brenau University. She was artistic director for Binghamton's Whitney Center for Dance and then spent 11 years in Georgia, where she served on the faculty at the Atlanta Ballet.

She's taught at ballet companies, colleges, studios and performing arts high schools around the country, including work as audition teacher and adjudicator for the Oakland Ballet. She served as artistic director for Binghamton University's Summer Dance Institute before taking the post in Syracuse.

Her students have gone on to perform with major companies.

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Tags: ballet


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