Gloria Mandelik (Florida, USA 1941), dancer & choreographer
Embracing Classical Ballet, Spanish and Indian Dance, the unusual and eclectic nature of Gloria Mandelik's career has been the subject of interesting controversies since its beginnings.
Born into a family immersed in the international film industry, Ms. Mandelik attended her first ballet class at the age of four. Soon afterwards she moved to France, where she was admitted to the Ballet Academy of the Opera of Monte Carlo. Under the tutelage of her mentor Gérard Mulys (ballet master of the Operas of Nice and Paris), she studied and performed at the Opera of Nice. During these years she also studied drama and painting in Paris and furthered her ballet studies with David Lichine in Los Angeles.
Inspired by a performance of Roberto Ximenez and Manolo Vargas, Ms. Mandelik decided to move to Spain, embarking on an intense period of study of Spanish Dance and culture. In 1962, she joined Pilar Lopez' Ballet Español, with which she toured Spain and all of Europe as featured star dancer. She also performed as soloist with Alberto Lorca, Manolo Caracol, Antonio, Alejandro Vega, Mario Maya and Carmen Mora and Rafael Aguilar. During this period she remained active in Classical Ballet, appearing regularly during the opera seasons of Madrid's Teatro de la Zarzuela.
At the age of 27, with a brilliant future before her in Europe, her creative inquisitiveness drove her to India to study the ancient art of Classical Indian Dance. From 1968 to 1972 she studied Bharata Natyam and Kathakali in Chennai (Madras) at the renowned academies Kalakshetra and Bharata Kalanjali with Rukmini Devi and the Dhananjayans. She subsequently performed with the Dhananjayans' company, Bharata Kalanjali. She also studied Orissi in New Delhi at Bharatia Kalakendra. Once again, Ms. Mandelik was to demonstrate her great capacity for assimilating different art forms: while focusing on Indian Dance, she continued performing and teaching Spanish and Classical Ballet in India and Japan, and was invited to perform Spanish dance for the Filmfare Awards, India's equivalent to the presentation of the Oscar Awards.
Returning to Spain, Ms. Mandelik's primary desire was to find a way in which to combine the three modes of expression which had formed her artistic sensibility. An intense international schedule of work with Classical and Spanish Ballet companies and Indian Dance recitals led to the formation of her first company, The Mandelik Dance Company, in 1978. As performer, choreographer and director, she forged a company in which Classical Ballet was the predominant discipline, but where Spanish and Indian Dance could share the same program.
Another focal point of this period was the Ballet Clásico de Luis Fuente in which Ms. Mandelik collaborated as teacher, rehearsal coach, choreographer and performer. In this capacity she trained many dancers who later went on to perform with both Spanish national dance companies.
Simultaneously with the activities of her own company, Ms. Mandelik also performed in a special private gala for President Kenyata, founder of the Republic of Kenya, and in the International Gypsy Festival in Grasse (France) representing India and the Balkans. She starred in the Gala for De Beers Diamonds with José Granero's Grandes Figuras de la Danza and toured with the Ballet Español de Rafael de Córdova, performing "El Puerto" (music of Albeníz) created especially for her by José Granero. She created several choreographies for the National Spanish Television Series "La Danza" of José Luis Lopez Enamorado, and appeared in films in Spain and India. Her dance partners included such international stars as Luis Fuente*, José Antonio*, Nacho Duato* and Hans Wrona*.
In 1982 she was invited by Micha Van Hoecke to the Teatro alla Scala of Milan as his assistant choreographer, ballet mistress and soloist in Orfeo, a ballet commemorating the Fifth Centenary of Leonardo da Vinci in Milan. In 1987, she gave a course of Spanish classical dance at the National Centre of the Performing Arts in Bombay, India.
From 1992 to 1993 Gloria Mandelik was staff teacher of ballet for a program especially conceived for actors at the Casa de Cultura de Torrelodones, School of Arts affiliated with Cambridge University.
Since 1994, Ms. Mandelik has participated in many prestigious international dance events, among which are the Sixth All-Star Gala International Dance Day in honour of Pilar López and Mariemma and the Gala de Estrellas de la Danza of Lanzarote. At the Fifteenth Natya Kala Conference at the Sri Krishna Gana Sabha in Chennai she was awarded for her dissertation on the subject of male dancers in Classical Ballet and Spanish Dance. In 1995 she formed her second company, The Gloria Mandelik Dance Company, which was featured during several seasons of the International Madrid en Danza Festival. Her company has hosted such outstanding and well known dancer figures as Lazaro Carreño (first dancer of the Ballet Nacional de Cuba), Antonio Alonso (first dancer of the Ballet Nacional de España), Carolina Trevoux (soloist with the Ballet of the 20th Century of Maurice Bejart), Tatsuo Sakai (soloist of the Zurich Opera), Ricardo Franco, Julia Olmedo and Carmen Molina and Tino Moran (soloists of the Ballet Nacional de España Clásico), Lisa Markuson (soloist of the Ballet of Reggio Emilia and the Opera of Lyon), Nacho Duato (director, Compañía National de Danza de España) and Mikio Ikehata (Soloist, Ballet of the Opera of Mannheim, Ballet Gulbenkian) and Hans Wrona, first dancer of the Opera of Mannheim, Kassel, etc.. She made a one hour documentary film titled "Ancestral Dances" within the series "Tiempo de Danza" produced by José Luis Lopez Enamorado for Televisión Española.
Since 2001, Ms. Mandelik was invited by Pilar López to collaborate in recreating the Concierto de Arajuez for the Ballet Nacional de España (Ms. Mandelik had performed in this very ballet with Pilar López' company in the 1960s), and was featured in the book India y España, 2000 años de relaciones (India and Spain, a 2000-year relationship), published by The Indian Embassy of Madrid in collaboration with the Spanish Ministry of Culture. The book includes an illustrated chapter exclusively dedicated to Ms. Mandelik's work. At its presentation she was introduced to Her Majesty Queen Sofia of Spain as an artist whose work has had a catalysing influence on the dissemination of Indian Dance in Spain. Ms. Mandelik presented Natyakshetra (a branch of the Gloria Mandelik Dance company) in the Ateneo de Madrid, also for the Indian Embassy in Madrid to celebrate Asian Women's Day, for A.L.B.A (a Spanish Animal Rights Association), and at the Federico Garcia Lorca Cultural Center. From 2006 to 2007, Gloria Mandelik directed the Indian Dance workshop at the Universidad Popular as part of the Federico Garcia Lorca Culteral Center in Rivas Vaciamadrid. In 2007, designated the "year of India" in Spain, and in 2008 Gloria Mandelik coordinated cultural activities for "India week" at the recommendation of the Indian Embassy. In 2007 the Gloria Mandelik Dance Company had the honour of being invited by the Indian Embassy of Madrid to perform in the 60th anniversary celebration of India's Independence in Madrid's Plaza Mayor, and in 2008 she travelled to India to give workshops of Classical Ballet and Spanish Dance at the John Britto School of Dance in Chennai. As a Paris critic said, "Gloria Mandelik has taken the initiative to study Classical Dance in India and master it to perfection, which proves that culture is universal and has no national boundaries."
Ms. Mandelik has combined her choreographic activities with those of a regular guest teacher of Classical Ballet during the summer courses at the school of the Ballet Hispánico of New York among others. In 2005 Ms. Mandelik gave masterclasses in classical ballet and choreographed two original ballets for various schools, companies and universities in the United States. In 2006, she created a neo-classical ballet choreography for the end of season performance of the Ballet Hispánico School. Students and professionals come to Madrid from many countries for classes, private coaching and choreographies from Ms. Mandelik.
The fact that Gloria Mandelik has rigorously undertaken, with true Renaissance spirit, and assimilated such different dance styles, and the unprecedented and label-defying nature of her work, make her one of the most original personalities in the dance world today.
In 2011 the Gloria Mandelik Dance Company toured India at the invitation of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations, performing to full houses and standing ovations.
*Luis Fuente - star of the Joffrey Ballet, London Festival Ballet, etc.
*José Antonio - director of Ballet Nacional de España
*Nacho Duato - director of the Compañía National de Danza (Spain)
*Hans Wrona - principal dancer, choreographer and ballet master of Mannheim, Kassel, Würzburg and Leipzig State Theatres, among others