ELMIRA, N.Y. (WENY) -- Rafael Grigorian's first real taste of American Ballet began in 1989, when he served as a choreographer in the Musical Drama "Mark Twain." The production ran from 1989 to 1995--part of which was directly under Grigorian's authority.
"I was very surprised when he trusted me to continue to take it over," says Grigorian, who moved to the United States from Moscow. "I was very appreciative that I deserved trust from American."
He eventually opened the Rafael Grigorian School of Classical Ballet in 1991, holding his first Open House at what is now the Raddison Hotel in Corning. It has since expanded to the Binghamton area as well.
"I expected it would be similar to how it is in Russia," says Grigorian. "Professional school, auditions--I didn't know American rules that everyone who comes--skinny, fat, talented, not talented--everyone who would like to dance, come and enjoy. This was a surprise to me. [It was a] big surprise."
Today, almost two decades later, he's continued to dazzle the Southern Tier with his craft and his with his ability to teach.
Just last month, he staged his annual production of "The Nutcracker" for the 25th year.
And over those past few decades, he's also been to thank for dozens of talented, successful and ambitious dancers.
"I work very hard to teach my students you can not be lazy by loving something," Grigorian says. "They need to honestly know who they are [and] how much talent they have. People need to know how far they can go by challenging themselves and moving forward."
Grigorian has been honored by The Arts of the Southern Finger Lakes for his work throughout the area. You can find more information on him and his school online.