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October 26, 2012

Growing Through Arts® Retailer: Divine Dance

 Posted By: Aleksandra Efimova  In: About Growing Through Arts, Retail Affiliate Profiles
Marijon Clarke, owner of Divine Dance

Marijon Clarke, owner of Divine Dance

It’s just a few days before Marijon Clarke is set to open Divine Dance Boutique in North Myrtle Beach, SC, and everything is still a-flutter at the store. There are display shelves to be built, leotards to be hung, and boxes of shoes, tights, and wrap sweaters arriving daily.

“I can’t wait to get my next shipment in. It’s like Christmas!” Clarke says excitedly.

Clarke’s daughters, ages 7 and 10, are especially excited to get the store’s first shipment from Growing Through Arts®.

“My girls love it a lot,” she says of the line of educational books, toys and accessories. “It’ll probably end up being some of the Christmas gifts for my children.”

Clarke knew if her daughters liked the colorful ballet-themed books and toys, other children would, too.

Clarke says the storybooks, which include a glossary of ballet terms, deepen children’s and parents’ appreciation for dance. “It helps me understand what they’re learning (in dance class),” she says. “It’s good for the moms as well as the dancers.”

Her daughters are also looking forward to receiving the matching tutus and tiaras from Growing Through Arts®. “They’re as cute as can be,” she says.

Clarke only dabbled in dance as a child, but she became immersed in the dance world when her daughters starting taking everything from jazz and tap to hip hop, ballet and gymnastics.

That many styles, of course, means many pairs of shoes and frequent trips to a dance store, and after talking to several other local parents who had to drive more than 45 minutes to the closest dancewear store, Clarke decided to open her own.

It took her about a year to get approved to carry different lines of clothing, rent a storefront and order her shipments, but now, Divine Dance Boutique is ready to open its doors. The official grand opening with the local chamber of commerce will be on Nov. 15.

Clarke says her daughters have been an invaluable help in deciding which merchandise to carry in the store, going through the catalogues and picking out their favorite items. “When we have sleepovers, I ask their little friends what they would wear,” she added.

Clarke has been running her father’s bowling alley since he had a stroke five years ago, and she is thrilled to take on a new challenge of managing a dance store, as well.

“When you find something that gives you that new spark, you have to do it,” she says.

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October 23, 2012

Fashion of the Opera benefits budding musicians

 Posted By: Aleksandra Efimova  In: About Growing Through Arts, Aleksandra in the Community

When I founded Growing Through Arts®, I wanted to make a difference in the lives of children and encourage them to become interested in and inspired by the arts.

So I was so pleased to attend the “Fashion of the Opera” fundraiser on Friday, Oct. 5, which was presented by the American Chamber Opera and benefited the Merit School of Music — two institutions that both support young people in studying and performing music.

Held at the Grand Ballroom at the Intercontinental Hotel, the evening featured models walking down the runway in creations from some of
Chicago’s most prominent designers as opera singers performed live. Guests enjoyed sipping on cocktails, dining on hors d’ouevres and catching a glimpse of fashion-forward gowns by designers such as Borris Powell, Fraley Le, Rachel Frank, Anastasia Chatzka and Stix & Roses.

To help support the cause, I donated a set of the Music Series books by Growing Through Arts® — which included The Peter and the Wolf Symphony by Aleksandra®, The Snow Maiden Opera by Aleksandra®, and Twist, A Musical by Aleksandra® — to the silent auction.

The event was organized and hosted by Marisa Buccheit, who is currently Miss Chicago 2012 and is also a soprano with the American Chamber
Opera. Founded in 2011 by Chicago-based artists Jonathan Cambry and Karrah Cambry, the American Chamber Opera’s mission is to provide high-quality performance opportunities for emerging artists. This season, the ACO will be producing full-length, English-language productions of Madame Butterfly, Die Fliedermaus, The Magic Flute and Carmen, performed by up-and-coming opera singers.

October 3, 2012

Growing Through Arts® Retailer: Kids World

 Posted By: Aleksandra Efimova  In: About Growing Through Arts, Retail Affiliate Profiles

Kids World

Kids World

Brooklyn, NY, is home to one of the largest populations of Russians in the United States, so it makes sense that Kids World, a toy store in Brooklyn’s Brighton Beach neighborhood, was eager to carry both the Russian and English versions of the Growing Through Arts® books.

“We have a lot of customers who are interested in Russian classical ballet,” explains Irina Dizik, manager at Kids World.

Dizik, who grew up in Russia, says ballet is an important component of Russian identity. “Ballet is everywhere [in Russia],” she says. “Every single little girl went to ballet. It’s a really big deal there.”

Kids World is unique in that it is a bi-lingual toy store, with one side selling merchandise in Russian and the other side selling similar items in English. The store carries everything from dolls and stuffed animals to DVDs, puzzles, books and more.

Despite the large number of Russians in Brighton Beach, many children don’t know how to read in Russian – only how to speak it. Dizik says in the last five years, however, there has been a growing interest among Russian parents to teach their children the Russian alphabet, and the store has been carrying more books designed to teach children how to read in Russian.

Kids World sells the English versions of the Growing Through Arts® books as well as the Russian versions of Cinderella and Peter and the Wolf. “We think [the books] will be very popular with our customers,” Dizik says.

August 29, 2012

Growing Through Arts® retailer: Bright Lights Dancewear

 Posted By: Aleksandra Efimova  In: About Growing Through Arts, Retail Affiliate Profiles

Bright Lights Dancewear

Bright Lights Dancewear

Adam Frishman and his wife, Amber, owners of Bright Lights Dancewear in Austin, TX, are thinking big when it comes to selling the Growing
Through Arts® line of books and toys.

Instead of selling them one at a time at their store, the Frishmans decided to use the Ballet Series books as a teaching tool in summer camp classes at Dance Xplosion dance studio, which they also own nearby. They used the books in the Princess camps and Girls Just Want to Have Fun camps, designed for children ages 3 to 6 years old.

“Every day, we had a snack time… and rather than turn on a movie, we had an instructor come out and read a book,” Frishman says. “They
were a hit.”

Frishman said he and his wife first fell in love with the Growing Through Arts® books at the Southwest Dance Retail Show in January.

“We saw them from across the room and said, ‘We’ve gotta have these!’” he says.

As the parents of a 1-year-old boy, The Frishmans read a lot of children’s books, and they were captivated by the Growing Through Arts® books’ charming illustrations, thoughtful morals and values questions and informative glossary of ballet terms.

“We really liked that it is something parents can do with the kids,” he says.

Now that they’ve introduced the books to so many of their young dancers at the camps, the Frishmans are hoping parents will come into the
store to buy copies to read at home.

They’re also hoping other dance schools in the area will start using the Growing Through Arts® books as part of their curriculum,

“We were kind of a nice test ground,” Frishman says. “We’re going to approach the other studios in town and say here’s this great thing
they can do.”

August 1, 2012

Art museum sells Growing Through Arts® books and toys

 Posted By: Aleksandra Efimova  In: About Growing Through Arts
Nassau County Museum of Art

Nassau County Museum of Art

Aleksandra Enterprises is pleased to announce that the Nassau County Museum of Art in Long Island, NY, has chosen to add the Growing Through Arts® line of educational books and toys to their museum gift shop.

The Nassau County Museum of Art is a popular family destination in Long Island, which already offers several kid-friendly programs, including Family Sundays and an event that encourages children to draw pictures based on folk tales. The museum expects to be especially busy the next few months due to their new exhibit of works by Russian artist Marc Chagall, which runs until Nov. 4.

The museum will be carrying the complete line of the Ballet Series and Music Series storybooks, Stage Scene Play Sets and Alphabet Sets in the
gift shop.

Meryl Gordon, Retail Merchandise Manager at the museum, said the Growing Through Arts® books and toys are the perfect complement to the museum’s cultural attractions and will appeal to parents who are looking to introduce their children to the arts.

If you are interested in carrying the Growing Through Arts® books and toys in your gift shop or store, please contact Casey Whitaker at or
312-332-7200 ext. 202.

July 31, 2012

Growing Through Arts® Retailer: Stage & Street

 Posted By: Aleksandra Efimova  In: About Growing Through Arts, Retail Affiliate Profiles
Stage and Street

Stage & Street owner Evelyn Davie with her 2 1/2 year old granddaught, Makeah.

Stage & Street, in Sudbury, ON, has been in business for 19 years, but it was only recently that owner Evelyn Davie realized she was missing something crucial: A place for kids to play in the store while their mothers shopped.

“I have eight grandchildren and I know that [kids] need a space where they don’t have to be told they can’t touch everything,” she says.

This summer, Stage & Street went through a massive renovation, which included the creation of a new children’s corner, where Davie plans to promote the Growing Through Arts® line of books and toys.

“I saw it in Dance Retailer Magazine and I said ‘We have to have that!’” Davie says.

Located in a community of 250,000 people, Stage & Street offers both dancewear and theatrical supplies and caters to students from 13 local dance schools. The store also offers a wide selection of rental and custom-made costumes.

In the new children’s corner, kids will be able to play with the Growing Through Arts® Ballet and Music Series Alphabet Sets, as well as the Stage Scene Play Sets.

Davie was delighted to see books about ballet and music geared toward children, something she has rarely come across.

The books and toys play an important role in teaching children about the arts, something young people don’t have as much exposure to these days. When Davie was in kindergarten, she vividly remembers hearing Peter & the Wolf on a record player in school, but when she told her younger staff members about the Peter & the Wolf
Symphony by Aleksandra
®, they had never heard of it.

Davie, who has a theater background, is enjoying learning dance vocabulary like “arabesque” and “grand jete” from the Ballet Series Alphabet Set. “I still don’t know the proper terminology,” she laughs.

“This is wonderful,” Davie says of the Growing Through Arts® products. “I hope it really takes off.”

July 2, 2012

Growing Through Arts® retailer: Neisha’s Dance and Music Academy

 Posted By: Aleksandra Efimova  In: About Growing Through Arts, Retail Affiliate Profiles
Neisha's Dance and Music Academy

Neisha Hernandez at Neisha's Dance and Music Academy

This summer, hundreds of little girls will be introduced to the famous classical ballet, Cinderella, at Neisha’s Dance and Music Academy in Chula Vista, CA.

They won’t be watching a movie or attending a performance of the ballet. Instead, their dance teachers will read to them from the Growing Through Arts® storybook, The Cinderella Ballet by Aleksandra®, for a few minutes every class, giving the students a taste of one of the world’s most beloved story ballets.

Neisha Hernandez, artistic director and owner of the academy, was immediately drawn to the Growing Through Arts® books after seeing an ad for them in Dance Retailer News. “I thought, ‘What a great way to incorporate learning about the major ballets into the classroom,” she says.

So Neisha decided to buy the books and incorporate them into the curriculum for all of her 16 pre-ballet classes, designed for children in kindergarten, first and second grades. From July through September, teachers will read about five to seven minutes of the story during each class, and then they will dance to music from the ballet.

From October through December, the teachers will read The Nutcracker Ballet by Aleksandra® to the students, followed by The Sleeping
Beauty Ballet by Aleksandra
® in January, February and March.

As a Chula Vista Commissioner for Arts & Culture, Neisha believes passionately in promoting the arts in her community and realized there
was a need for more dance education among the younger children when students didn’t recognize the music from Sleeping Beauty in class. “The younger students… don’t know one ballet from the next. All they know is Disney,” she said.

In addition, the Growing Through Arts® Ballet Series and Music Series books will be on sale in the academy’s on-site retail store, and Neisha believes reading the books in class will entice children to want to buy them for home.

Neisha says developing a curriculum that incorporates the Growing Through Arts® book helps her dance studio differentiate itself from others in the Chula Vista and San Diego areas. “Anything that makes their experience a little more special, a little more unique is perfect for
(generating good word of mouth),” she says.

June 25, 2012

Children Celebrate Russia Day with Russian Book Reading

Russia Day book reading

More than 30 children celebrated Russia’s national holiday with a reading of a Russian-version of Cinderella at the Russian Pointe Dance Boutique on Friday, June 15.

The children, all of whom have at least one Russian-speaking parent, were eager to hear a story in their native language and sat attentively
as author Aleksandra Efimova read The Cinderella Ballet by Aleksandra®, which has been translated into Russian.

After the book reading, children learned about the Russian alphabet and acted out scenes from the story with the companion Cinderella
Stage Scene Play Set
. The children were also treated to an elegant brunch and had the opportunity to take photos with ballerinas dressed in regal tutus.

Inna Elterman brought her three children, ages 14, 7, and 2, to the event and said all three enjoyed the storytime. “My 7-year-old son, Eli,
was very proud to show off his knowledge of Russian letters in the alphabet activity after the book reading, and my 2-year-old daughter, Kate, did not want to leave until she has rearranged the stickers in the dress-up book in every possible sequence,” Ms. Elterman said.

Victoria Friedman said her daughter was mesmerized by the Russian version of Cinderella. “Since the event, Aleksandra’s Cinderella ballet
book has become the highlight of my daughter’s bed-time reading,” she said.

Hosted by the Moscow Committee of Chicago Sister Cities International, chaired by Ms. Efimova and Prince Piotr Galitzen, the event was
held in honor of Russia’s national holiday, which is celebrated on June 12 and commemorates the day in 1990 when the Russian parliament formally declared sovereignty over Russia. The event was co-hosted by Rossotrudnichestvo — the (Russian) Federal Agency for the Commonwealth of Independent States, Compatriots Living Abroad and International Humanitarian Cooperation —
which aims to promote the study of Russian language.

Aleksandra Efimova is also the president of Growing Through Arts®, a company that creates and markets educational books and toys for
children. The company currently has six books available in English and two in Russian, The Cinderella Ballet by Aleksandra® and The Peter and the Wolf Symphony by Aleksandra®. Matching toys that illustrate the Russian alphabet will be available at the end of July. Both the books and matching toys can be purchased at the Russian Pointe Dance Boutique, as well as online at

May 31, 2012

Growing Through Arts® Retailer: Performers Wearhouse

 Posted By: Aleksandra Efimova  In: About Growing Through Arts, Retail Affiliate Profiles
Performers Wearhouse

Michael Porter of Performers Wearhouse

When Michael Porter, store manager for Performers Wearhouse in Indianapolis, first saw the Peter and the Wolf Storybook by Aleksandra® at the Midwest Dance Retail Show, he knew he had to carry the Growing Through Arts® line of books and toys at his store.

“Peter and the Wolf was one of my childhood memories,” says. “It was a had-to-have-it item.”

Porter vividly remembers watching an animated movie about Peter and the Wolf when he was in elementary school. “I actually remember practically every sight and sound of it,” he says. “The story definitely stuck.”

Porter says customers have been raving about the books’ beautiful illustrations since they started carrying them in February. “The craftsmanship, the quality, the drawings – they’re just art,” he says. “They just stand out so well and are really well done.”

Performers Wearhouse was opened by James Allman, owner of the nearby dance studio Dance Rhythms, in September 2010. The store caters to young students who are starting out in ballet, gymnastics and cheerleading, and unlike many dance stores, it also has a martial arts section, which attracts boys as well as girls.

Porter says he feels the Growing Through Arts® line of books and toys are very appealing to both genders, which makes it perfect for his store. “My parents took me to Sleeping Beauty growing up, and the Nutcracker is definitely not a ballet just for girls,” he says.

Plus, Porter says the books are important because they give children a cultural context for what they are studying. “Kids these days get Facebook, and I’m not saying Facebook is bad, but unless [the arts] are really emphasized by the parents, I don’t think they get much exposure,” Porter says.

Porter is eagerly awaiting the arrival of the Growing Through Arts® Music Series books, in addition to the Ballet Series. “I really want a copy of Peter and the Wolf for myself,” Porter says. “I’m 34, but I want one anyway.”

April 16, 2012

Growing Through Arts® books now in Russian!

 Posted By: Aleksandra Efimova  In: About Growing Through Arts

Russian growing through arts books

Russian growing through arts books

Russian growing through arts books

Russian growing through arts books

Russian growing through arts books

Russian growing through arts books

Russian growing through arts books

Growing Through Arts® is expanding again! This time, we are translating all of our storybooks into Russian, so that all of the Russian-speaking children in the United States can enjoy these charming, educational books.

According to the American Association for Russian Language, Culture and Education, there are 5.5 million Russian-speaking people in the Unites States. To me, it is important to serve this population, which has such a strong cultural background in music, ballet and other art forms, and to continue to support arts education and increased connections between the United States and Russia.

To launch the new versions of the books, we recently had a photo shoot at the Russian Pointe Dance Boutique where we invited 14 Eastern European children to play with the books and toys and get dressed up in the matching Growing Through Arts® tutus, tights and leotards!

The kids loved playing with the books and toys, and it was so wonderful to hear the boutique filled with shrieks of laughter all day long. I almost felt as if I were a child myself.

One of the boys who came to the photo shoot, Nick, loved his Music Series Alphabet so much that he stuck the characters to the window in the car and made up six different versions of the books on the way home.

Thank you to the parents who brought their children to the boutique for this very special experience!

We plan on unveiling the new Russian versions of the Ballet Series and Music Series storybooks, as well as the Ballet and Music Series Alphabet Sets, at the Russian Cultural Center in Washington, D.C., on June 6, in celebration of Russia Day, the national holiday of Russia.

The Russian versions of the books and toys are scheduled to arrive in stores at the beginning of June. To pre-order your copies today, please call 312-332-7200 ext. 505.

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