Nancy Raffa -- Teacher
Marie Raffa -- Pianist
Lou Montelione -- Composer and Orchestral Arranger
ABOUT THIS PROJECT:
I am the proud son of one of the finest ballet pianists in the business, Marie Raffa, and the eldest brother of one of the most gifted ballerinas ever to grace the stage, Nancy Raffa. In contrast, my musical background is in jazz. However, ballet has been a part of my life as well, from early on when I used to take my little sister to class at a a local church basement.
I often think back to when Nancy called home from backstage at the Lausanne competition immediately after winning the gold medal, exclaiming in her unassuming Brooklyn accent, "Ma, I won!" The whole family literally broke down and cried.
I can still get choked up thinking about how with her spirit, talent and love of ballet, Nancy overcame the family's economic and emotional hardships, which included growing up with a father suffering from Parkinson's Disease.
I mention these sentiments because they are at the emotional core of this project. The practical aspect was to release a CD of engaging, enjoyable music that would serve as a refreshing alternative to the traditional material already available. The harmonically contemporary compositions were designed to accentuate the particular character of each exercise. Also included are orchestrated versions of the center exercises for the purpose of increasing the dancer's sense of musicality and professionalism.
I hope this music inspires you to dance from your heart and reach your goals!
NANCY RAFFA became the first and youngest American to win the coveted "Gold Medal" at the Priz de Lausanne in Switzerland. She worked as a soloist with Makarova & Company before Mikhail Baryshnikov personally invited her to join American Ballet Theater. Ms. Raffa has been a principal dancer with The Ballet Santiago in Chile, The Ballet Nationale de France and Miami City Ballet, and has appeared in many international galas with partners such as Rudolph Nuryev, Peter Shauffus and Fernando Bujones. She received a Teachers Recognition Award from the National Foundation For Advancement Of The Arts and was selected by The United States Information Services to teach in Central America. In addition to her full time position with Miami City Ballet, she is pursuing a Bachelors degree in Psychology.
MARIE RAFFA, a ballet pianist since 1972, is currently working for Miami City Ballet. She has also worked for American Ballet Theater and New Jersey Ballet. She was the exclusive pianist for Madame Gabrielle Darvash for 16 years, and has played master classes for Maya Plisetzkaya, Nora Kovach, Ishtvan Robovsky, Stephan Stefansky, Irena Koplakova, Johann Renvall, Ivan Nagy and Valentina Kaslova, to name just a few. Mrs. Raffa has had many performances on WNYC Radio. Her four album set, "Music For Ballet Class With Joseph Levendoff" has been recently re-released on CD by S&R Records.
LOU MONTELIONE is a jazz pianist/composer who has been working commercially in the New York area since 1975. Mr. Montelione's critically acclaimed CD, "Comin' Back Home" on Jazzheads Records was released in 1997. He is currently owner/operator of Perfect Music Productions.
EDWARD VILLELLA: "It is with pleasure that I highly recommend this CD. It is unique in that it reflects the most promising opportunity to the ever-evolving approach to training and this art form...With this approach, exercise becomes real dance. This is a family collaboration with two of the three participants actively engaged with my company, Miami City Ballet. In particular, I congratulate Marie Raffa, who is one of the finest accompanist I have ever had the pleasure to work with."
FERNANDO BUJONES: "a beautiful, sensuous and sensitive CD that all ballet artists will identify themselves with because it comes from the soul of a very talented and artistic family. Mr. Montelione's compositions and orchestral arrangements...are the perfect frame for a superb creation."
VALENTINA KASLOVA: "It's fabulous! The music is incredible and very creative. When I took it to class, the students didn't want to finish! They wanted to do more and more! It's a real mood lifter and quite inspiring...one of the best CDs I've ever heard."
ELEANOR D'ANTUANO: "This outstanding CD...has brought Nancy Raffa's superb knowledge of dance and music together for a unique balletic experience."