Company will highlight Mosina in La Sylphide and Wehner in Alice (in Wonderland)
Colorado Ballet principal dancers Maria Mosina and Sharon Wehner recently started their 20th seasons with Colorado Ballet. Both dancers joined the Company in 1995.
According to Colorado Ballet Artistic Director Gil Boggs, having one dancer spend 20 years with a single company is rare and having two is even more unique due to a variety of variables, from artistic differences to injuries. He said that for Mosina and Wehner, dancing with Colorado Ballet for 20 years has not been a matter of longevity; instead, their artistry enabled them to have such long careers. While they have differences—Mosina was born and trained in Russia and Wehner was born and trained in California—Boggs says it is that artistry that makes them similar as dancers. “Take a performance of Swan Lake, they both do the Swan Queen,” said Boggs. “Maria does it and she pulls you in and she makes you feel the role. Sharon does exactly the same thing. She makes you believe that she’s a swan. So, even with the differences in their training, the similarities are that they can take an audience and pull them in and be thoroughly convincing at what they’re doing.”
This season, Boggs will highlight both dancers in the lead roles of two of Colorado Ballet’s productions. The Company will celebrate Mosina during La Sylphide, opening October 2 and Wehner during Alice (in Wonderland), opening February 19. “If anybody was ever meant to dance La Sylphide, it’s Maria. She has a beautiful jump, she has great expression, she’s going to be flirty and she’s also going to be very dramatic. It’s a role that’s made for her. For Alice, it’s a role that’s made for Sharon; she’s the perfect stature and she looks like Alice. Her temperament is exceptional for portraying that character. I’m very happy with the programming this year because it complements both of them very well.”
Boggs says that as an artistic director, Mosina and Wehner make him look good. “I know that when I come into a rehearsal, they’re such professionals, that they’re never marking, they’re always doing everything full-out,” said Boggs. “They’re giving everything that they have, and when they get on stage, they’re exquisite, they’re beautiful…stellar. I’m able to sit back and I can relax and know that the performance that they’re about to give is going to be nothing short of wonderful.”About Maria Mosina:
Maria Mosina was born and raised in Moscow, Russia. From as far back as she can remember, she said that she loved to dance, move around and act. Her mother enrolled her in the Bolshoi Ballet Academy, where she studied academics and ballet for nine years. According to Mosina, by the time she was 10 years old, she knew she would become a professional ballerina.
After completing her training, she joined the Bolshoi Ballet Grigorovich Company and danced soloist and principal roles soon after joining the Company. She toured around the world, appearing on all major European, American, African and Asian stages. “I realized that the art of ballet, it’s truly a universal art that can bring cultures and countries together,” said Mosina. She spent five years with the Company, then moved to the U.S. to work with emerging choreographers, new ballets and perform different styles of dance.
Since joining Colorado Ballet in 1995, she has performed major roles in the Company’s classical productions and contemporary works. “I’m so fortunate to have a job that fulfills and inspires me,” said Mosina. “I get pleasure from dancing. I was born to give people happiness on the stage.”
According to Mosina, she uses her life experiences to bring something new to her art. “I believe that my dance was changed when my daughter was born,” said Mosina. “It became more emotional, and I put more emotions on stage. Being a ballerina and a mom is a challenge and a joy.” She said that knowing that her daughter watches her from the audience brings her even more happiness while performing on the stage.
She said she is lucky to have avoided major injuries throughout her career and she still loves dancing. “I think my passion and love still pushes me forward all the time,” said Mosina. “I still love what I’m doing. I believe that ballet is not just about the number of pirouettes you can do or how high you can kick your leg; ballet is an art and there is no age limit to express yourself.”
Mosina said that she would like to dedicate her 20th season to everyone who has helped her get to where she is today including her teachers, mentors, coaches, choreographers, friends, family and partners on the stage. “And especially to my mom, she passed away one year ago,” said Mosina. “She was my first fan and my friend.”
Her advice to aspiring dancers is to study and learn everything that it takes to be a good dancer and take it very seriously. “It’s not fun, all day,” said Mosina. “It’s hard physically, for the body, and it’s hard emotionally. You have to study, all about the art. And the audience does see or know what you are getting through, those weeks in the studios. But, it’s paid when you’re standing at the end of the performance and you can feel the audience believing in you.”
In addition to career at Colorado Ballet, she is also an active ballet instructor throughout the U.S. and has participated as a master teacher and judge for the Youth American Grand Prix. She dances as a guest artist at other festivals, galas and companies and has completed her studies with a degree in ballet pedagogy. “I believe that when I’ve finished my dancing career, I plan to stay in the ballet world, when I retire…someday,” said Mosina.About Sharon Wehner:
Sharon Wehner is originally from San Jose, California and started dancing at the age of three. At 19, she audition for several companies. “I got three offers and I ended up at Colorado Ballet, mostly because I knew somebody here and he had good things to say about the company,” said Wehner.
The Company promoted Wehner to principal in 1999. “I really didn’t set out to be a principal dancer, I didn’t set out to have a long career with a company,” said Wehner. “I just wanted to do good work. I just wanted to be a good dancer, and, I wanted to keep growing, and I think that’s why is stayed; because I was always excited about the rep coming up and I loved my colleagues.”
According to Wehner, starting her 20th season with Colorado Ballet feels a little surreal. She said that it is difficult to separate her “the person” from her “the dancer” because everything intertwines. “My position as a dancer at Colorado Ballet has run concurrently with my lifetime; I kind of grew up as an artist with Colorado Ballet,” she said. “One might think that working for the same company would get a little stale, feel a little too comfortable. But in fact, establishing a ‘home-base’ with Colorado Ballet has allowed me to expand my own artistry, to build upon all of the experiences I’ve had as both a dancer and human being, and to learn from all of the extraordinary artists who have passed through the Company over the years.”
Wehner said that she has seen many changes over the years at Colorado Ballet and now the Company is on an upward growth. “It’s had many ups and downs that I’ve witnessed, and even some scary times when the economy was not so great,” said Wehner. “It’s been wonderful to see the Company go through all of that and then come out stronger.”
In addition to the changes at Colorado Ballet, she has witnessed the perception of arts in Denver change over the years. When she first joined the Company in 1995, she said that one of her neighbors could not fathom how anyone could make a career as a professional ballet dancer in Denver. Coming from an area that had a lot of arts and culture, she was shocked by neighbor’s assumption about artists and dancers making a living in Denver. Since that time though, she said that Denver has changed. “I think now if someone asks me what I do and I say I’m a ballet dancer and I dance with the Colorado Ballet, it actually means something to them,” said Wehner. “And I think that’s wonderful to see how the community has changed in relationship to Colorado Ballet.”
After dancing many lead roles during her career, Wehner said that there have been very few ballets or roles that she did not like. For her, almost every ballet was its own gem and she enjoyed sinking her teeth into each one of them. She said that when she steps back and looks at her career, a few roles stood out to her more than others. “Dancing Juliet was one of them,” said Wehner. “Romeo & Juliet was the first ballet that really moved me. I think I was nine when I saw the ballet and I remember sitting in the audience and realizing what power a ballet can have on an audience. I was young, but I felt it and I could feel everybody around me feeling that.’” She admits that she had a hard time holding back tears when she heard the orchestra play the overture on the opening night of her debut as Juliet.
For Wehner, the future means taking ballet by ballet, year by year, and day by day. She said that it is important to be in the moment. “You never know, as a physical artist, you hope your body will be there for you, you can’t take it for granted,” said Wehner. “Every day, you come into the studio and you start the same way. You plie. You start with plies, and that’s kind of the being in the moment part…it’s not like some careers that you can do when you’re 70. Although, I have seen dancers dancing in their 70’s.”
According to Wehner, 20 is just a number. “It’s like how people talk about age; it’s kind of a balance looking back and looking forward at all the dancing I still want to do, and then just being present and feeling like this is also just another season and an opportunity to grow as a dancer,” said Wehner.
For more information about Maria Mosina or Sharon Wehner, visit www.coloradoballet.org.