Gina Bugatti Goetchius, Dancer and Teacher, Has Passed
Gina Bugatti Goetchius died on April 27th, 2018, at her home in Mount Vernon, New York. She was born on February 14, 1951, to George Goetchius and Mildred Goetchius. Gina had an iconic, global dance career which spanned nearly five decades. She began her ballet training as a child, and later enrolled in The National Academy of Ballet as a scholarship student under the direction of Thalia Mara. After graduating, she was a trainee at Harkness House, and was promoted to become a member of the Harkness Ballet Company, where she worked with choreographers such as Vicente Nebrada, Geoffrey Holder, Brian Macdonald, Ben Stevenson, Margo Sappington and Norman Walker. She then briefly became a member of The Joffrey II, directed by Jonathan Watts.
Gina was later invited to dance with the Ballet de Caracas as principal dancer under the direction of Vicente Nebrada, where she worked directly with choreographers such as Alvin Ailey, John Butler, Choo-San Goh, Judith Jamison, Elisa Monte, Dennis Nahat, Carlos Orta, Hans van Manen and Hector Zaraspe. She went on to dance with the Ballet Nuevo Mundo as a principal dancer for many years, later to become rehearsal director and assistant to the artistic director, Zhandra Rodríguez.
After returning to the United States after living in Venezuela for 20 years, she became rehearsal director/ballet mistress and later artistic associate director with Tina Ramirez of Ballet Hispánico. During these years Gina was also ballet mistress for the Ballet Trockadero de Monte Carlo touring worldwide. She was faculty at Peridance Center, and taught master classes at Skidmore College.
In the last ten years of her life, Gina taught at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University, Valentina Kozlova Dance Conservatory, and at several schools in Westchester County, most notably at the JCC in Scarsdale, which is creating a dance scholarship in her name.
Gina was a beloved teacher and mother. Throughout her life and career, she brought joy, beauty and wonder to those whom she touched. She is survived by her son Sebastian Castillo.
Jennifer Kahn knew the theater industry could do better. As a professional stage manager for 17 years she worked on regional, off-Broadway and Broadway shows. Nearly each time a show closed, something unsettling happened: "I would watch them throw away our shows. All of the beautiful artwork by my friends in the paint shop would go in the trash." The elaborate backdrops? Gone.
But she had an idea: What if the material used in the backdrops and legs could be upcycled into something new? And what if theater lovers could literally keep a piece of a beloved show?
"The show must go on" may be a platitude we use to get through everything from costume malfunctions to stormy moods. But when it came to overcoming a literal hurricane, Houston Ballet was buoyed by this mantra to go from devastated to dancing in a matter of weeks—with the help of Harlequin Floors, Houston Ballet's longstanding partner who sprang into action to build new floors in record time.
For decades the name Alicia Alonso has been virtually synonymous with Ballet Nacional de Cuba, the company she co-founded in Havana in 1948. Alonso died on October 17, just shy of what would have been her 99th birthday. In recent years, she had stepped back from day-to-day decision-making in the company. As if preparing for the future, in January, the company's leading ballerina, 42-year-old Viengsay Valdés, was named deputy director, a job that seems to encompass most of the responsibilities of a traditional director. Now, presumably, she will step into her new role as director of the company. Her debut as curator of the repertory comes in November, when the troupe will perform three mixed bills selected by her at the Gran Teatro de la Habana Alicia Alonso. The following has been translated from a conversation conducted in Spanish, Valdés' native tongue.
New York City Ballet principal Sara Mearns wasn't sure she was strong enough. A ballerina who has danced many demanding full-length and contemporary roles, she was about to push herself physically more than she thought was possible.
"I said, 'I can't. My body won't,' " she says. "He told me, 'Yes, it will.' "
She wasn't working with a ballet coach, but with personal trainer Joel Prouty, who was asking her to do squats with a heavier barbell than she'd ever used.