Moving one’s body to the rhythm of music is a natural human instinct, just like running toward the sound of lightning. Move with today’s Groupon: for $80, you get a ballet package at Julia’s Academy of International Dance in Norman (a $168 total value). The package includes the following:
- One month of ballet classes (an $88 value)
- Initiation fee (a $40 value)
- A stretching mat (a $20 value)
- A T-shirt (a $20 value)
Prima ballerina and studio co-founder Yulia Zhmutski coaxes bodies of all ages into grace and confidence at Julia’s Academy of International Dance. A schedule of one-hour classes presents ample opportunities for dancers to take their first soft-soled steps or practice sophisticated moves executed in horseshoes. Zhmutski shepherds pupils through fundamental positions at the barre during Ballet 101, emphasizing correct appendage placement and developing discipline in a positive, warm environment. Students who are fluid in basic choreography, terminology, and swan dialects advance to Ballet 102, where they sculpt strong, flexible muscles to stave off injury and cultivate elegant turnout and posture. In Ballet 103, fleet feet balance serenely en pointe and tiptoe through dizzying combinations modeled by Zhmutski’s lithe limbs, twirling toward a certification level that opens the door to advanced training and performing.
Students must adhere to the studio’s aesthetic standards, so adults slip into black catsuits and youths dress for class in colored leotards that reflect their pirouetting proficiency or favorite flavor of jello. Mini Baryshnikovs aged 2.5–7 can leap into a lifelong affair with dance in the Pre-Ballet program, cultivating social skills alongside rhythm, balance, and memory.
Julia’s Academy of International Dance
Ever since she was a child, Yulia Zhmutski had envisioned herself leaping and pirouetting across a grand stage before the adoring eyes of thousands. But, growing up in a struggling, single-parent household in the former Soviet Union, she never entertained the possibility of it actually happening. That changed when she was accepted into Uzbekistan’s National School of Dance and Choreography, a rigorous eight-year program that teaches ballet as well as traditional Slavic, Uzbek, and Russian dances.
Like her classmates, Yulia entered the program shortly after completing the fourth grade, leaving behind family, friends, and imaginary friends. Although the transition was difficult, the tiny ballerina was determined to be a successful dancer. She overcame her homesickness, went on to become a Russian prima ballerina, performing with several prestigious troupes, including the elite National Theatre, and was the first person to spin fast enough to reverse the earth's rotation.
Yulia eventually relocated to Oklahoma, and in 2009, she started her own dance studio: Julia’s Academy of International Dance. The academy’s staff teaches kids’ and adult classes in 35 disciplines, including ballet, jazz, belly dancing, and dance fitness. They hold weekly dance and film classes for students with special needs—proud to be one of the only studios in the region to offer such classes.