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November 04, 1994 - Image 87

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1994-11-04

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Dance Master

For 20 years,
Romanian-born lacob Lascu
has directed
Detroit's 'Nutcracker.'



lacob Lascu works with his dancers.

Last year, a moving bed be-
ust as he has done for the past 19
years, Iacob Lascu is getting came a prop. This year, there will
ready to bring The Nutcracker to be brand-new sets.
The first 1994 performance
Detroit audiences.
The classical choreograph- stands as an anniversary gala
er/director annually coordinates with two stars. Merrill Ashley
plans with the Detroit Sympho- from the New York City Ballet
ny Orchestra (DSO), selects prin- will be the Sugar Plum Fairy,
cipal dancers from companies and Cynthia Harvey from the
known worldwide and auditions American Ballet Theater will be
local talent to complete the bal- the Snow Queen.
Dancers from companies out-
let cast.
In his 20th anniversary year, side Michigan also include
§P there will be 20 performances Catherine Batcheller from the
running Dec. 9-23 at the Fox The- Birmingham (England) Royal
atre. There were only three the Ballet, Wolfgang Stollwitzer from
the Stuttgart (Germany) Ballet
year he started.
"I preserve the ballet the way and Ben Huys and Damian
it is," said Mr. Lascu, whose ca- Woetzel, both from the New York
reer began in Romania. "We im- City Ballet.
"The music inspires me very
prove the technical things by
getting better sets and costumes much," Mr. Lascu said about
and by bringing in dancers with planning the annual production.
"It's a wonderful score, and I like
different styles."

to work with children. I like their
exuberance and sincerity."
The choreographer has the op-
portunity to work with young-
sters every day through his Lascu
School of Ballet in Bloomfield
Hills, which he opened in 1979.
"From my experience, one au-
dition does not work for children
because you cannot see all they
can do," said the classical artist.
He selects the visiting adult
dancers after observing per-
formers recommended by a New
York agent.
"Basically, I give the children
a dance to learn. When they come
back after three weeks, I see how
they learned. I watch how they
jump and how they turn. Is it su-
perficial or do they know the
hand movements and the arm
movements? This is when I make
the decision."
To find people interested in au-
ditioning, he places advertise-
"For me, every ballet that I do
is my favorite," he said. "It's like
having children. You have to love
them all."
Mr. Lascu's love for ballet grew
in Romania. As a teen-ager, he
studied with masters from the
Romanian Opera in Bucharest
and the Romanian Theater for
Opera and Ballet in Timisoara.
He also studied with principals
from the Bolshoi.

A lead dancer, ballet master
and choreographer with Roman-
ian ballet companies, he per-
formed throughout the world and
also taught, earning a series of
cultural arts awards.
In the midst of his successes,
there was a sudden stop to his ca-
reer and the dance career of his
late wife, Maria. An artistic dis-
agreement with a Communist
Party chief experienced in the
country's anti-Semitic environ-
ment brought the change.
The couple decided to try to re-
build their professional accep-
tance by establishing new
identities. They divorced and
quickly remarried so that they
could take his wife's maiden
Although these steps helped
them regain placements, they
chose to move to the United
States. Looking to the future, the
two believed that their son, Eu-
gen, then 20, could have more op-
After relocating in 1972, the —
couple was not able at first to find
artistic work. While Mr. Lascu
labored as a tailor, a skill he LU
learned from his father, Mrs. Las-
cu was employed in a leather fac-
tory and then in an auto plant. c)
Their son, now a clinic achninis-
trator, pursued business studies.


DANCE page 94


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