Sunday, February 28, 2010


Ilya and Zoya Gaft

That's where he usually sits when teaching the class.

Zoya has always made the costumes for all the stage performances. Some are really georgous.

A new shoot is in the works. But I'll be honest I'm not totally feeling it these days and there's just so many things going on..... blah blah.

Anyway I wanted to post a few pics I took of Ilya Gaft. He's the owner of the New York Ballet Institute. Ilya's life story is long but in a nut shell he was born and raised in Russia. He spent his life studying ballet and pretty much devoted his life to ballet. He entered the famous Kirov ballet school in Saint Petersburg where he became a principal dancer and later a choreographer. Later he left Russia with nothing and started all over again in the US (with some stops in Europe). He worked for many years in NYC with his own theater company that he ran with his wife Zoya who was also a dancer (and opera singer). After suffering a heart attack he decided to settle outside of the city where today he still runs his own school. He is now 75 years old and teaches ballet everyday. He still moves amazingly well and it is astonishing how he comes up with routines on the fly, often I think his mind works better then mine. He lives and breaths ballet. The most fascinating thing to me is how emotional he is. When he is in a bad mood or a good mood you can always tell because it will reflect on his routines. Sometimes he closes his eyes and makes us listen to a particular part of a song because it is so beautiful. He puts a lot of emphasis on understanding the emotional side of dancing not just the technical side.


Dave Levingston said...

Hey, these photos are good. Really, really good.

Alena said...

Nice read Diana! Love the photos and the story was short, sweet, and so emotional! Thanks for sharing! Can't wait to see more from you, I know you have it in you!

Virginia said...

These pics are AWESOME Diana!!

Anonymous said...

i used to take lessons with ilya and zoya and i think you described them perfectly. dance was my entire life but i had to quit because i got really sick. not only do i feel empty without physically dancing, but i miss having these people guide me through life.

andyg said...

I am touched by what you say here about my Dad. Good photos too.

Greetings from Melbourne, Australia