Royemore School is pleased to share that the Distinguished Alumna for 2020 is Olga Guardia de Smoak from the Class of 1957. Ms. Guardia de Smoak is the President of the New Orleans International Ballet Conference and an Artistic Advisor to the Institute of of Culture of the Republic of Panama, in the field of ballet. She is a speaker on History of Dance at the Jackson USA and Valentina Kozlova International Ballet Competitions, and at the Annual Symposium of Inter-American Dance for Pedagogues, Directors, and Historians.
Originally from Panama, Ms. Guardia de Smoak studied dance both in Panama and the USA under Ballets Russes and Royal Ballet masters. She holds a License es Lettres from Vassar College in New York and has done further academic work in France.
Ms. Guardia de Smoak has been actively involved in artistic productions and ballet exchanges for over thirty years. In the 1970’s and 1980’s Ms, Guardia de Smoak pioneered dance courses for North American ballet pedagogues in the former Soviet Union and arranged for the first official production of a Balanchine choreography there, arranging this through the Balanchine Trust, while bringing to North and South America and representing distinguished dancers, teachers and choreographers. Among those were Raissa Struchkova , Mikhail Lavrovsky, Ludmila Semenyaka, (of the Bolshi Theatre) Nikita Dolgushin (Mariinsky Theatre), Viktor Yaremenko, (Kiev National Theatre)- Stanislav Issaev, Moscow), Vadim Pisarev. Polina Semionova (Berlin State Ballet), Viktor Plotnikov and Larissa Ponomarenko (Donetsk and Boston Ballet) and Eric Vu An (Paris Opera Ballet).
In 1990’s Ms. Guardia de Smoak worked in Russia as an English Editor for the Russian journal Ballet, under its Editor Valeria Uralskaya, and was instrumental in organizing Gala performances at the Bolshoi Theatre of Moscow for the Russian benefic organization “Diamonds of World Ballet”, which she helped establish. These Galas introduced to the Russian public among others Fernando Bujones, Angel Corella, Ethen Steifel (American Ballet Theatre), Carlos Acosta (Houston Ballet and UK Royal Ballet), Aurelie Dupont (Paris Opera Ballet) and other world stars.
In 2000 Ms. Guardia de Smoak founded the New Orleans International Ballet Conference (NOIBC) which under the aegis of CID/UNESCO (Conseil International de la Danse) organized both the groundbreaking “Ballet Russes” Conference and the Louisiana Bicentennial Conference “Dancing through History: the Roots of Dance in Louisiana 1750-1830” The second conference was hosted concurrently with a CID/UNESCO Congress. In connection with the themes of these conferences, of the Marius Petipa Centennial, of the History of Ballet in France and Russia, and in a special seminar about George Balanchine she has lectured in Russia, the Czech Republic, Mexico, Panama and the USA.
Ms. Guardia de Smoak has served as Representative of the Jackson, USA International Ballet Competition since 1982, and as Artistic Advisor to Belgium, Luxemburg and Czech Republic Dance Organizations, as well as to the Youth America Grand Prix. Since 2011 she has served on the Jury of the Valentina Kozlova International Ballet Competition.. In 2015 she was Director of the USA NOLA Semi-final of this competition. And in 2018 the organizer of an Internatinal Dance Symposium to Delebrate the Tricentennial of the City of New Orleans.
In the last decade Ms. Guardia de Smoak has been the USA or Panama Ballet Juror in Estonia, Hungary, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Russia and the USA. She served twice on the Organizing Committee of the Korea International Ballet Competition. In 2011 she served on the Jury of the First Boston International Ballet Competition, where she received the “Terpsichore award” and at the prestigious International Ballet Award Dance Open of St. Petersburg, Russia. At the Dance Open, she was the UNESCO Representative on a Jury totally composed of Artistic Directors of the most important ballet companies of Europe and North America.
In 2013 Ms. Guardia de Smoak was awarded the coveted Nijinsky Medal and a Col de Basil plaque for her contribution in organizing the Col. de Basil Ballets Russes Exhibit at the Bakhrushin Theatre Museum of Moscow. The same year she helped organized the production of the ballet Coppelia at the National Theatre of Panama, by the renowned choreographer Vasily Medvedev of St. Petersburg.
From 1999 to 2003 Ms. Guardia de Smoak served as Secretaire General to CID/UNESCO/USA. She was on the Faculty of the College of Music and Fine Arts of Loyola University of New Orleans, where she taught History of Dance from 1999 to 2017.
We look forward to hearing what Ms. Guardia de Smoak has to share with the Class of 2020 when she has the chance to address the graduates at their June 4th graduation ceremony.