EVSPA Founding Directors
The Vision, The Continuity and the Respect for Longevity
Sandra Balestracci, Artist Director
Ron Boucher, Founding Director
Ms. Balestracci has graciously served the Peninsula community by providing outstanding excellence through several organizations since 1978. Her reputation as a classical ballet instructor ranks her at the top amongst the professional dance community and her outstanding reputation is recognized up and down the east coast. She has received, for the third, time the coveted “Outstanding Teacher Award” at the International American Youth Grand Prix Ballet Competition in 2002, 2005 and 2008. Many of her students are in professional schools and companies, such as American Ballet Theatre, Houston Ballet, San Fransisco Ballet, Dresden Sempre Oper Ballet, Slovak National Ballet, Kirov Academy, Nashville Ballet among others.
Ms. Balestracci has served on the faculty for prestigious summer programs, with colleagues such as Anne Marie Holmes, former director of Boston Ballet School and Edward Villella former principal dancer with NYC Ballet and artistic director of Miami City Ballet. Balestracci was personally invited by Debbie Allen to teach at the Kennedy Center’s Imagination Celebration. In 2000, Mayor Jeanne Ziedler honored Ms. Balestracci’s contribution to the arts in the community with a citation from the City of Williamsburg. She has also received a citation from the New York City Opera for her 13 years of dedicated service and outstanding accomplishments as a principal ballerina.
Ms. Balestracci began her dance studies in Boston, Massachusetts and continued her formal dance training, in New York City, at the American Ballet Theatre School. She had the privilege of training under the direction of Professor Mario Ignisci, Ana Roje, Mme. Nemtchinova, Harriet Hoctor and Mme. Swoboda.
Ms. Balestracci’s versatile career began at the age of 19 with the Radio City Music Hall Ballet Company in 1963 and continued to perform as a featured soloist until 1980. Choreographer Peter Genaro, then New York’s hottest Broadway choreographer most remembered for his choreography for “Annie”, asked Ms. Balestracci to portray Charlie Chaplin. Ms. Balestracci was later awarded the first citation ever given to a performer in the sixty year history of Radio City Music Hall.
Of the numerous famed choreographers, Ms. Balestracci was selected by the legendary Agnes DeMille, who was restaging the musical “Oklahoma” for the Lincoln Center revival. The production also included Margaret Hamilton, who played the wicked witch of the west in the movie of the "Wizard of Oz". Ms. Balestracci has performed extensively in New York City and has also toured throughout the United States, Europe, and South America as a guest ballerina.
On the evening of Tuesday, September 21, 1976, the opera world was overshadowed by a four minute ballet entitled the “Dance of the Living Statues”, in the production of “La Belle Helene”. This dance concluded with a lift where Ms. Balestracci stood "on pointe" in the palm of her partner's hand in an arabesque. This became their signature piece and immortalized Ms. Balestracci in the dance world.
Ron Boucher founded the Community Alliance for the Performing Arts, (CAPA) Fund in 2000 and serves as its founding artistic and executive director. His mission is to showcase the children and youth who have studied the performing arts with reputable instructors and who have accomplished themselves in their art form. CAPA Fund has and continues to produce performing opportunities for such students by highlighting their skills in productions that partner with professional directors and choreographers.
Prior to his work on the CAPA Fund was Mr. Boucher's development of the Eastern Virginia School of the Performing Arts. In September 1996 he embarked on a four-year venture of incorporating Ms. Ballestracci's existing ballet studio with his vision for voice and theater. This quickly became a forerunner in performing arts training for Hampton Roads.
Mr. Boucher serves as EVSPA's overall administrative director, oversees the schools theater/voice divisions, and teaches voice, acting and choreography. He is a member of the NATS (National Association of Teachers of Singing). He also is an active lecturer and an advocate for “What your child should know in the Performing Arts Ages 3-18." Mr. Boucher’s students have won major professional competitions, have placed in prestigious university and college vocal programs and have performed in opera, Broadway and national touring shows.
Mr. Boucher's performance credits include both classical singing and dancing. He began his performing career at the age of 15, dancing in operas and musicals throughout New England. In fall of 1976, he made his New York debut as a principal character with the New York City Opera written and directed by Gian-Carlo Menotti's in his production of THE SAINT OF BLEECKER STREET. In 1979, he was featured in the Metropolitan Opera's PBS broadcast production of OTELLO with Placido Domingo. In 1983, Mr. Boucher appeared in the Connecticut Grand Opera's production of DON PASQUALE, directed by Christopher Renshaw from Covent Gardens. Among his credits are operas such as ABDUCTION FROM THE SERAGLIO, AIDA, CARMEN, LA BOHEME and LA GIOCONDA. Mr. Boucher earned his Actor’s Equity membership in his Broadway debut with the Prince Street Players Production of ALICE IN WONDERLAND, which also included a national tour performing with major symphony orchestras through a grant received by the National Endowment for the Arts.
Although retired from the professional stage, Mr. Boucher has appeared in several CAPA Fund productions. He originated the role of Herr Drosselmeyer with the American Youth Ballet Company. He has also performed as Fagin in the 2006 production of Oliver with the American Youth Players. His musical direction and choreography credits include; Rutherford Wolf, Alice & Wonderland, Emperor’s New Clothes, King & I, Music Man, Wizard of Oz, Oliver, Annie, Sound of Music and You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown.
Mr. Boucher's vocal mentors have been Clarice Carson (Metropolitan Opera), William Hicks (Metropolitan and New York City Opera). Mr. Boucher studied dance in both Boston and New York with Mdm. Darvash, Sandra Balestracci and at the Neubert Institute, Luigi’s and Steps.