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Arts Toolkit

Arts Toolkit: Dance

Kentuckians in Dance

Associate Artistic Director/Principal Dancer (Retired) Helen Starr
Louisville, KY

Who Helen Starr is associate artistic director of the Louisville Ballet, where she was principal dancer for 20 years, and continues to perform with the company in character roles. She was born in Kent, England and trained at the Royal Academy of Dancing and the Royal Ballet School. Helen toured the world with the Royal Ballet as a soloist and assistant ballet mistress. Over the course of her career, she has danced and taught in 36 countries on five continents. Her partners have included many world-renowned dancers, including Mikhail Baryshnikov.

A profile of Helen Starr is featured on the DanceSense Enhanced video/DVD in the Dance Arts Toolkit.

What “I assist the artistic director in decision making and do all scheduling pertaining to the dancers and ballet staff, including visiting choreographers. I teach the company class twice a week and the senior school class twice a week. I attend rehearsals and coach dancers in roles and perform occasionally.”

When “I work long hours during the season. These are flexible, but absolutely full-time.”

Where “I work in an office, the studio, the rehearsal hall, and the theater.”

How “I work with the dancers and interact with the production staff to ensure we are all on one page with each production. After the annual audition process, I am in charge of contacting and signing up our 12 trainees for the following season. My special skills would include the years of professional experience working with a wealth of choreographers and famous dancers who passed on their knowledge, as I am trying to do. The greatest challenge is juggling the many egos of a ballet company to maintain a harmonious and productive work atmosphere.”

Why “I love to see the progression of the individual dancers through the daily training in class, the rehearsal process, and the coaching sessions. My goals are to help as many dancers as possible reach what I believe is their potential.”

Getting There “I had years of training, followed by years of traveling the world with two major ballet companies. Experiencing several injuries and the usual run of foot problems, due to the point shoes, has given me an extensive knowledge of first aid and rapid cures. Living in group environments has developed my tolerance level considerably, and plain common sense is invaluable.”

Photo: Dan Dry

600 Cooper Drive, Lexington, KY 40502 (859) 258-7000 (800) 432-0951