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Local dancer earns trip to Bolshoi Brazil; director visits studio

State Street Dance Studio dancer Emma Sidari, 11, of St. Charles will study for three weeks at the Bolshoi Theatre School in Brazil on Aug. 10.
State Street Dance Studio dancer Emma Sidari, 11, of St. Charles will study for three weeks at the Bolshoi Theatre School in Brazil on Aug. 10.
State Street Dance Studio; Bolshoi Brazil: 4 photos

GENEVA – A State Street Dance Studio dancer has garnered the attention of one the world’s leading schools of ballet, earning herself a three-week internship in Brazil beginning Aug. 10.

Eleven-year-old Emma Sidari of St. Charles will be the first American to study at the Bolshoi Theatre School in Joinville, Brazil, as part of a “social project” aimed at building a bridge between dancers from Bolshoi Brazil and the U.S.

“Bolshoi is the best in the world,” said Linda Cunningham, State Street Dance Studio founder and artistic director. “And we are the first school making the bridge.”

Bolshoi Brazil, a 13-year-old branch of the world-renowned Bolshoi Ballet Academy in Russia, has 12 studios and trains students from all over South America.

In anticipation of Sidari’s upcoming trip, Russian-born Pavel Kazarian, the general director of Bolshoi Brazil, stopped by State Street Dance Studio on July 31 on the second day of his inaugural trip to the U.S.

Cunningham said she was humbled by Kazarian’s visit.

“This is pretty enormous that Pavel is here in the Fox Valley area,” she said. “People are going to be talking about this for a while.”

On his visit, Kazarian observed Sidari, as well as other dancers, and will accompany the young dancer to Brazil.

“[Sidari] is a good girl. ... I think it is a good experience for Brazil and for the U.S.,” Kazarian said. “The project is very important for opening the minds of dancers. It’s important for Bolshoi Brazil to exchange cultures. Having students from the U.S., it’s a very good cultural experience.”

Naperville resident Eurika Porto, a “scout” and “cultivator of great dancers” according to Cunningham, helped coordinate Sidari’s internship and will join Kazarian and Sidari on the trip as well.

“I always thought of Linda [Cunningham] as a visionary with such talent. ... So, I thought of [State Street Dance Studio] as the first connection with Bolshoi,” Porto said, adding that Bolshoi prides itself on finding young talent in obscure and unassuming places. “It doesn’t matter if it’s a big company or a big school, it matters who you can find.”

Cunningham concurred.

“There are deserving kids everywhere, and that was exciting to see that Bolshoi would look at these kids,” she said.

Sidari, who has been dancing for eight years in various forms, such as ballet, contemporary, modern and jazz, hopes to become a professional dancer, and said that although she is nervous and excited for the opportunity, the internship is a step in the right direction.

“I just feel honored to be the first American,” Sidari said, adding that she is looking forward to “becoming a more mature dancer,” meeting new people and making new contacts.

In the future, Porto and Cunningham will continue to team up to select other State Street dancers to follow in Sidari’s footsteps, but for now, Cunningham said she is proud of Sidari.

“I have had my eyes on [Sidari] for years,” Cunningham said. “Someday you’re going to see her with the big boys.”

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