Dance is one of the world’s oldest and most important forms of cultural expression and it is alive and well in the greater Radford University community thanks to the Department of Dance and the Radford University Ballet Youth (RUBY).
RUBY is open to all members of the surrounding community and it provides ballet training to young dancers of all skill levels. Directly associated with the RU Ballet Theatre, dancers in the program have the opportunity to perform in shows on campus.
“One of our missions in the College of Visual and Performing arts is community outreach,” said Margaret Devaney, chair of the Department of Dance. “Our department got together and realized we needed a dance program for the community.”
RUBY came into being in February 2006. The program’s director, faculty member Inessa Plekhanova, quickly helped build a successful program that was able to contribute to RU’s production of “The Nutcracker” that fall.
“We plan it so students in our RUBY classes have the opportunity to perform in our ‘Nutcracker’ and other ballet shows,” Plekhanova said. “It was very successful and we decided to keep going with the program.”
Plekhanova is joined on the RUBY program by her husband and fellow RU faculty member Aleksey Plekhanov, who teaches advanced classes including pointe technique. The RUBY curriculum follows that of the world-renowned Vaganova Ballet Academy in St. Petersburg, Russia which has produced famous dancers such as Rudolph Nureyev, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Gorge Balanchine and Natalia Makarova.
"We offer several levels of dance and our more advanced students are in what we would say are pre-professional dance programs," Plekhanova said.