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    On the Job

    Taking a disciplined approach to dance

    Cosmin Marculetiu helped Samantha Lee warm up before class started at Marculetiu’s studio in Norwell.
    Katherine Taylor for The Boston Globe
    Cosmin Marculetiu helped Samantha Lee warm up before class started at Marculetiu’s studio in Norwell.

    Ballet master Cosmin Marculetiu doesn’t see a lack of talent in student dancers at The International Ballet Academy of Norwell, the studio he founded three years ago. “What’s missing instead is the discipline and focus needed to make the leap to a top-level professional dancer,” said Marculetiu, 45, a former principal dancer with several European companies including the Romanian National Ballet and Croatian National Ballet. “Kids are often distracted by sports, extracurricular activities, and other commitments.”

    Some of your former students have become professional ballet dancers. Can you tell right away when a student has potential?

    Yes and no. Sometimes I can get a wrong impression. You can have the perfect body for ballet – long legs, good proportions – but if a student doesn’t give a 100 percent, they probably won’t make it to the highest levels.

    What are your methods of teaching?

    I use the Vagnova method from Russian ballet. It emphasizes a strong body as the foundation for expressive dancing and eloquent arm movement. I want my students to understand the reason behind every exercise or step, so they’re not only able to master it but also can explain its purpose.

    Does ballet have a harmful overemphasis on body image and the stereotypical perfect, thin body type?


    Overweight or skinny, everyone can dance, but not everyone can be a prima ballerina at the American Ballet Theater. But there are smaller companies, in Oregon, Arizona, Idaho, and elsewhere that don’t care about weight. I’ve seen a lot of heavier dancers that are absolutely fabulous in technique and interpretation. Why should we get rid of them? But it’s important to be realistic about the reality of their future dreams.

    Is ballet as physically grueling as it’s reputed to be?

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    When I was a first soloist with the Romanian National Ballet, I had to go and throw up after each scene because it was so incredibly hard — but so fulfilling. I’ve had six major knee surgeries and one of my vertebrae is gone from lifting. Ballet is a very brutal job.

    How did you feel when you retired from dancing?

    My last performance was four years ago, when I did the Nutcracker as a guest artist with the Central Florida Ballet. It was time — I’m almost pushing 50 now, and I want the audience to remember me on stage as I used to be, instead of thinking, “What is this old guy doing up there?” Let the young and powerful have their turn — now I teach them how to be beautiful.

    Cindy Atoji Keene can be reached at