When the right opportunity appears - you MOVE, and dance with it! Or so remarked Artistic Director, Helen Wilkins, of her decision to retire after 30 years of managing Olympic Ballet, a flourishing ballet school and company out of Edmonds.
At 30 years, Olympic Ballet Theatre has become Snohomish County’s premier regional dance company – and has made a considerable arts presence from home in Edmonds and Everett to Bellevue’s Meydenbauer Center, Seattle’s Moore Theatre and north to Arlington.
The school is full and thriving with its focus on classical ballet. The non-profit company has kept to standards of excellence, including membership in Regional Dance America / Pacific Association. The company performs for 10,000 people a year. Auditioning at 13 for the school’s non-profit performing company, OBT-trained dancers have gone on to study at many prestigious schools. “The excitement of teaching and directing theatre is watching how dancers change and grow into beautiful artists. Something inspires them to jump the hurdle. You find that you’re giving kids focus, concentration, and the discipline for details they use to conquer and move on in any walk of life.” said Wilkins, recipient with her late husband of the City of Edmonds’ Chamber of Commerce Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007.
But in the midst of 30th Anniversary celebrations and a brand new full length premiere on the horizon, the poised Artistic Director, states, “As I retire on June 30th, a beautiful new door opens for Olympic Ballet---a revitalized era, fresh vision, and growth for the future of the school and company with very special people!”
Helen Wilkins saw an opportunity for just that in former Pacific Northwest Ballet dancers, Mara Vinson and Oleg Gorboulev, ready and eager to assume directorship. “They are high-level artists, but, most of all, they are beautiful people. They have the talent, passion and desire to take Olympic Ballet into an exciting and professional future!”
After five years of working with Olympic Ballet in various artistic roles, Vinson and Gorboulev are sure to make a smooth transition to this well-established institution.
“I can think of no better direction in the world for Olympic Ballet! I know that John, my late husband and co-founder, would be thrilled!” said Wilkins. Their son Daniel, after teaching at OBT more than ten years, continues as Artistic Director of his own professional company, DASSdance, is also excited and proud to see OBT move forward in such capable hands.
So, what will this cultural staple of the Edmonds performing arts scene do after retirement? “I am looking forward to new challenges and rewarding work. And every day I will be thankful for all the love and support Olympic Ballet dancers have given me and will miss the important involvement in their lives that I have cherished for 30 years. They were vital in filling my life after John’s passing and gave me a reason to go on. Words cannot describe a lifetime of working at what I love, with a community of dancers and families I have treasured!" said Wilkins.
The OBT premiere of Coppélia this April, many years in preparation, gives Wilkins an Anniversary Celebration worthy of culminating 30 years. Just another reason not to miss this joyful comedic ballet: Coppélia, The Girl with Enamel Eyes. With choreography by the future Artistic Directors Mara Vinson and Oleg Gorboulev, furnished with state of the art extraordinary sets from designer Hita von Mende, and brand new exquisite costumes by Margreet Preston, the full-length ballet ensures a magical encounter.
The performances take place at Edmonds Center for the Arts on Saturday, April 16 at 2:00 & 7:00 PM and Sunday, April 17 at 3:00 PM.
Tickets for Coppélia are on sale now. Prices are $20 for children 10 and under, $25 for students through high school and seniors, and $30 for adults. Service fees apply. All seats are reserved. Tickets for all performances may be purchased by calling ShowClix at 1.888.71.TICKETS, or online at www.olympicballet.showclix.com.