Long-time ballet dancer opens school at Loomis Hall

Published on Thu, Jun 10, 2010 by by Tara Nelson

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BalletBlaine resident Tiiu Kuuskmann said she’s gone through many changes in life but she always came back to ballet. Kuuskmann, an energetic mother of three and freelance interior designer, said she has been practicing ballet since the age of two in her hometown of Vancouver, B.C. and teaching since the age of 12.

And despite several significant moves – first to New York City, then to Blaine, Washington – her love of dance remained constant.

It was that enthusiasm that led her to open Blaine School of Ballet in a 600-square foot studio in Loomis Hall Gallery last October.

“I have this love of ballet that I can’t get rid of,” she said. “It’s always the first thing I do whenever I have a significant life change.”

It also led her to a chance encounter with Russian ballet legend Mikhail Baryshnikov while studying ballet on scholarship at Steps On Broadway in New York.

“One day, I was running late for class and took the last available spot on the bar,” she said. “I quickly realized why no one was there and it was because Baryshnikov was standing right behind it so there was an intimidation factor there.”

Kuuskmann said she teaches a variety of ballet styles ranging from Vaganova, which she studied at the Goh Ballet Academy in Vancouver, to Balanchine, which she studied while attending Steps On Broadway.

She also completed advanced level classes through the Canadian Cecchetti Society, a Vancouver-based academy that teaches the Cecchetti Italian style of ballet and earned her associate teacher status from the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing in London.

With 10 years of teaching ballet under the discretion of her own teacher,  she then branched off on her own to open a school in Vancouver, Canada called Ballet West.

“I’ve had lots of different influences and had a lot of exposure to different styles of ballet,” she said. “I sort of bring them all together in my teaching to create a program that’s high energy, fun and animated but yet professional. It’s geared toward teaching the way kids learn but they still get solid, classical training.”

Those who want to get a sample of the Blaine School of Ballet will want to attend its year-end recital performance scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday, June 12 at the Blaine performing arts center (PAC). The event will include solo pianists, children’s ballet and a wind ensemble organized by bassoonist Martin Kuuskmann. Admission is $7.50 and free for children 12 and younger.

Tabletop Gourmet Specialities catering, of Blaine, will be donating refreshments after the show.
The next class series will begin in the fall. Interested individuals can register now by calling 360/332-9892.