Teaching at the Kirov Academy of Ballet summer program. Photo by Paulo Galli, courtesy Djoulouokhadze

When Vladimir Djouloukhadze met Vakhtang Chabukiani (one of the first men to inject a sense of Georgian folk-dance tradition into 1930s Russian ballet), Djouloukhadze's life changed. His ballet career would be shaped by the bold and uninhibited movement power that Chabukiani, his teacher, made so globally famous when he staged ballets like La Bayadère. When ballet is combined with character folk dance accurately and without any mocking, the delicacies and manners of the royal courts are married with a more wild, personal spirit that is invited to shine through various social folk-dances.

Djouloukhadze came to the U.S. after dancing for the Georgian National Ballet and other companies, and launched what has become one of the most successful teaching careers combining ballet and character techniques. His students have gone on to become principal dancers and soloists of the major ballet companies—to name a few: Matthew Golding, Rasta Thomas, Melissa Hough, Rory Hohenstein, Brooklyn Mack, Brian Maloney and me!

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