Instructor of Dance
Mara Mandradjieff began her ballet training with Pittsburgh Youth Ballet, where she performed principal roles in George Balanchine’s Stars and Stripes, Serenade, Valse Fantasie, and Garland Waltz. Her summers were spent training at various programs such as the Chautauqua Institute, Miami City Ballet, and four summers at The School of American Ballet, where she worked backstage with young students during New York City Ballet’s performance of Midsummer Night’s Dream. Mara went on to dance professionally with Bodiography, Columbus Dance Theatre, Opera Columbus, Alan Obuzor’s Texture Contemporary Ballet, The Georgia Ballet, where she performed principal roles in The Nutcracker and George Balanchine's Who Cares, and Dance Canvas.
Turning towards academics, Mara received her bachelors summa cum laude at the University of Pittsburgh in English Literature with a minor in Dance and a certificate in Gender Studies. Attending the University of Pittsburgh presented Mara with numerous opportunities such as becoming a board member, teacher, and choreographer for the Pitt Dance Ensemble, as well as a teacher and choreographer for the university’s Ballet Club. In addition, she worked with Susan Gillis to choreograph and dance for Opera Theater of Pittsburgh and interned for Attack Theatre. During all of this, Mara was teaching ballet for a number of studios in the Pittsburgh area and also took part in AmeriCorps Jumpstart program.
Ms. Mandradjieff decided to combine her academic interests with her love for ballet and began writing research on dance history and gender/body theories. She presented such research at the Pennsylvania State Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance Convention with her lecture, "Just Your Typical Starving Artist." Then in the following year, Mara won The Marlee and James Myers Award for her critical essay, Queering Ballet.
Following college, Mara finished her Masters in Education at the University of Pittsburgh with a certification to teach Secondary English Education and a focus on Gender and Performance Studies. After teaching high school English for a short period of time, Ms. Mandradjieff went back to the University of Pittsburgh to choreograph and teach as a part-time faculty member, in addition to offering her talents to the Ballet Academy of Pittsburgh and Point Park University. Mara has taught for Emory University’s Dance Program and truly enjoys being part of Kennesaw State University’s Dance Department.
Most recently, Mara has become the Executive Director and Founder of Lume Foundation. Lume Foundation is a nonprofit corporation that uses dance to engage and inspire patients and individuals at healthcare facilities such as hospitals, rehabilitation centers, geriatric care centers, and different types of counseling centers. Lume is currently working with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and is excited to expand, bringing the joy of dance to those in need of hope and healing.