Nineteen-year-old Colorado Springs native and Colorado Ballet Society former student, Natatia Warzabluk, performed in the Princess Grace Academy 2018 Gala on at 8pm on both June 23rd and 24th, 2018, at the Salle Garnier Opera House in Monte Carlo with seven other graduates from the academy. Natatia and her mother, Sandee Warzabluk, spent the week following graduation moving Natatia to Zurich, Switzerland, where Natatia has accepted a company contract and will launch her professional dance career with Ballet Zurich.
The Princess Grace Academy was founded in 1975 following Princess Grace and Prince Rainier III’s desire to establish a high-level dance school in the principality of Monaco. The Academy has since been directed by Marika Besobrasova and enjoys an international reputation as being one of the top dance training facilities in the world. In 2009, Her Royal Highness the Princess of Hanover appointed Luca Masala to the position of Artistic Director of Teacher Training. The aim of the Academy’s pre-professional division is to allow its multinational student body to perfect their training between the ages of 13 and 18, thus enabling them to join leading international dance companies upon completing their studies.
Natatia was one of only five students in the world who received admittance into the prestigious Princess Grace Academy of Classical Dance program in 2016, and to sweeten the deal, she was offered a scholarship as well. She spent two years at the Princess Grace Academy.
“Natatia has a real talent to learn and never give up,” shares Luca Masala Artistic Director of Princess Grace Academy. “I have been impressed by her determination and hard work and it’s why I selected her for our program.”
When asked about the qualities the Princess Grace Academy is most looking for when accepting students into its program, Masala continues, “Since we are talking about ballet of course body, physicality, technique and artistic qualities; but beyond all that, I’m looking for passion, determination and students who want to learn.”
When asked what prepared her most for the Princess Grace Academy Natatia responded, “The high level of dance professionalism offered to me at Colorado Ballet Society really prepared me for this opportunity. I knew that it would be advantageous to complete my training at an international school to have the career that I wanted. My director, Ms. Patty [Hoffman] and Ms. Ahita [Ardalan-Bergman, one of Ballet Society’s guest faculty], suggested several professional schools in Europe. This one drew my interest more than others-I think it was really intuition guiding me.”
Natatia had also been invited to the world-renowned John Cranko school in Stuttgart, Germany; was pre-selected to audition at the International Ballet of Munich; the Hamburg Ballet School; the Palooka University in Dresden, Germany; Ballet Dortmund Jr. Company; and the Ecole Supérieure de Danse de Cannes, in France, but settled on the Princess Grace Academy.
“Some of the most valuable lessons I learned at the academy include how to work on my technique on my own without a teacher’s eye and how to change my perspective on certain challenges making them more manageable,” shares Natatia. “I learned how to stay confident in the face of competition with my peers and how to deal with homesickness. It helped to get support, but I did need to learn how to cope on my own.”
Natatia trained with Colorado Ballet Society and was a member of the Colorado Youth Ballet for many years. In 2016 she was featured as ‘Aurora’ in the Youth Ballet’s and Ballet Society’s Pre Professional Division production of Sleeping Beauty which received a standing ovation in the packed auditorium. That same year she was offered a studio company contract with Colorado Ballet in Denver, as well as a trainee position with Oklahoma City Ballet, a company she had previously performed with in the Colorado Springs Philharmonic’s Nutcracker.
As for competition awards, Natatia is a multiple year winner in both Denver Ballet Guild and Colorado Springs Dance Theatre’s scholarship competitions. In 2016, she was awarded 2nd place in Senior Division and a $1,500 cash award from the Denver Ballet Guild’s Young Dancer's Competition. She also received the 2nd place and $250 cash award from the 2015 Colorado Springs Dance Theatre’s Jazz Competition.
Her mother, Sandee Warzabluk, enjoyed a twelve-year professional dance career herself and noticed Natatia’s talent at an early age.
“As a one-year-old Natatia had improvisational dance moves that were atypical for her age,” Sandee claims. “At age three, she insisted on taking ballet class against my inclination for her to wait. I was pretty sure we were headed in a serious direction toward a dance career for Natatia when Ms. Patty saw her in rehearsal for the first time at age 8. She pulled me aside and told me what a talent Natatia had.”
“I did everything I could to support Natatia’s dance desires and found a way to cover the cost of her dance classes. Even as a single working mom, somehow, I got her to all her classes, rehearsals and performances. What a tricky business that was! Rushing from job to home to pick her up, begging friends for rides, and sometimes not finding a ride for her till the last minute. When an opportunity came up for her to join Patty’s field trip to London, I made sure she was able to go. I also made sure she made it to Europe to audition for ballet schools after she and Patty spent much time setting them up.”
When asked if there was anything she would have done differently during Natatia’s training years at home, Sandee replies, “No, there were things that went better than others, but that is part of the process.”
“Be ready to be challenged beyond what you can imagine and as well as reap benefits that you can’t yet envision,” Natatia advises students planning to attend the Princess Grace Academy.
“I went into the school with the mindset just to get through the two years, so I could begin my career. But, it ended up becoming my home away from home and shaped some of the most fun and cherished moments of my life.”
“It was my extreme delight to be there to be proud of and support my daughter as she has put all of her heart and much effort into reaching this moment,” enthuses Sandee about the Princess Grace Academy Gala experience.
“Princess Grace Academy has been an excellent choice for Natatia. The guidance, instruction, support, and safety for the students was remarkable. As a late comer, she worked extremely hard to take the steps to be able to graduate with a contract in her hands as a company member of Ballet Zurich, and I’m proud to say that she has chosen an excellent company and a beautiful place to live.”
“We could not be prouder of Natatia,” says Colorado Ballet Society founder and director Patricia Hoffman. “She is a model of determination and was willing to do whatever it took to grasp that dream. Through the highs and lows, she trusted that we could help her achieve her career aspirations, and as her journey continues to unfold, we’ll continue to celebrate with her as more of her dance dreams are realized.”
Figure 1 Natatia Warzabluk in the Princess Grace Academy graduation gala performance in Monte Carlo, Monaco PC © Alice Blangero - Les Ballets de Monte Carlo
Figure 2 Luca Masala Artisic Director of the Académie Princesse Grace PC David Herrero
Figure 3 Natatia Warzubluk as Aurora in Sleeping Beauty 2016 Partner is Chris Moulton of Colorado Ballet PC courtesy of Colorado Ballet Society
Figure 4 Natatia and Sandee Warzabluk at the Princess Grace Academy
Figure 5 Patty Hoffman and Natatia Warzabluk 2016
Figure 6 2018 Princess Grace Academy graduates at Gala event L-R Yuria Isaka,, Martino Semenzato, Youngseo Ko, Yuka Matsumoto, Natatia Warzabluk, Ivana Bueno, Minji Nam, Shale Wagman
Natatia Warzabluk in the Princess Grace Academy graduation gala performance in Monte Carlo, Monaco PC © Alice Blangero - Les Ballets de Monte Carlo