When local musician Barry Bless heard that his twin daughters Isadora and Odessa were auditioning for two of the most exclusive ballet summer programs in the world, he assumed it would be an exercise in handling rejection.
The July program was run by the Royal Ballet in London, and they were also applying for a Kennedy Center program run by Suzanne Farrell, one of Balanchine’s “muses” who takes only a small group of students worldwide.
But to their credit, the Richmond girls made the cut at both camps.
"We're scrambling now to figure out how to make these experiences possible for them," says Bless, an accordion player known for his work in the Ululating Mummies, Richmond Indigenous Gourd Orchestra, and Happy Lucky Combo.
Considering this is 2016, the twins recently took matters into their own hands with a public fundraising campaign to cover the trip with a Youcaring crowdsourcing page. They need to raise $5,564 and are almost half-way there.
You can check out their video below and if so inclined help them on their way.
In the girls' own words:
Hi! We are Isadora and Odessa Bless … twin sisters from Richmond, VA. We are students at the School of Richmond Ballet and ARGS (Appomattox Regional Governor’s School for the Arts and Technology). We have been studying ballet and other forms of dance for five years. We dance 4-6 hours a day/6 days a week, attend high school (we’re in 9th grade) and perform with the Richmond Ballet and the School of Richmond Ballet throughout the year. We both aspire to become professional dancers, which we are very passionate about.
This is the first year that we auditioned for summer intensives … which are summer schools for students who study ballet and other forms of dance. Intensives last two-five weeks, and each day is packed with dance classes. Summer intensives will give us the opportunity to learn from well-known artists and study different dance techniques. These intensives can be quite expensive, but are well worth the time commitment and cost.
We were both accepted into: Royal Ballet Summer School, London ... two weeks Exploring Ballet with Suzanne Farrell, Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. ... three weeks
We are so excited to be given these opportunities!!
The Royal Ballet School is one of the top ballet schools in the world and it is a dream come true to be able to study there! Suzanne Farrell is a legendary ballerina who is considered Balanchine’s most famous muse. Hundreds of dancers from across the country audition to study with Ms. Farrell, and she personally chooses 25-28 students to take part in the Kennedy Center’s exclusive three-week ballet training program.
Our family will be able to pay for some, but not all of the expenses (travel, tuition, room/board, dance uniforms, etc.) … that’s why we are asking for your financial help, which will be used towards tuition and pointe shoes. Tuition for the Royal Ballet is $1,084 ($2,164 for both of us) and tuition for the Kennedy Center is $1,100 ($2,200 for both of us). One pair of pointe shoes lasts about 6 hours of dancing and cost $100. Since classes will be all “on pointe” at the Kennedy Center, we will need twelve pairs of pointe shoes total.
Please consider making a donation to help us further our dance education and experience these once-in-a-lifetime opportunities … any amount will be much appreciated!!!!
Isadora and Odessa