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Interim named for youth ballet program


July 14, 2017

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The Averitt Center for the Arts announced new leadership of the Statesboro Youth Ballet on Friday.
Jurijs Safonovs, the program’s director since 2012, has resigned to seek new opportunities, and his lead instructor Taylor Ellen has been promoted to interim director.
“Over my five years here,” said Safonovas, “I’ve had the incredible opportunity to choreograph iconic classical ballets, to bring together students of all ages from different parts of the world, and meet many exceptional individuals and supporters of art.”
Ellen, who holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance from Belhaven University in Jackson, Mississippi, has worked as the primary modern dance instructor at the Averitt for two years. Ellen’s formal training also includes jazz, tap and Vaganova ballet — a classical Russian ballet technique. She has collaborated with Safonovs on several projects at the Averitt including “The Nutcracker,” “A Christmas Carol Ballet” and “Swan Lake.” 
“It is my hope to continue to grow what Jurijs began by providing high-quality dance training in ballet, pointe, modern, jazz and tap within the community of Statesboro and surrounding areas,” she said. 
After receiving ballet training at the National Choreographic and Ballet School of Riga, Latvia, Safonovs began his professional career with the Latvian National Ballet Theatre and became a principal dancer with the Virginia Ballet Theatre in 2001. In 2008, he became the Ballet Master at Neos Dance Theatre in Masfield, Ohio.
“The progress we were able to achieve here is just unbelievable, and it will continue to inspire me in my future endeavors,” Safonovs said. 
Averitt Center Executive Director Jamie Grady said that he is disappointed but excited for the opportunities ahead for Safonovs and his family.
“I am really looking forward to working with Taylor in creating a more diversified and engaging dance program for our community,” he said.
Ellen begins her new role as the Averitt’s Youth Ballet Artistic Director August 1. 

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