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O'ROURKE, Tatiana Bechenora

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Tanya in her performance in "Prince Igor."
O'ROURKE, Bechenora Tatiana. (Sophia, Bulgaria,--Dubuque, IA, Dec. 4, 2012). Professional ballerina/founder ACADEMY OF BALLET. On May 22, 2010 the Academy of Ballet, which she founded more than fifty years ago, and the Dubuque City Youth Ballet, begun over 40 years ago, honored Bechenora's lifetime achievements with a tribute, "Forever Dancing." The gala, at the GRAND OPERA HOUSE featured an on-screen biography interspersed with live dancing re-creating the dances that Bechenova did as a young ballerina.

Raised in Bulgaria to refugees of the Russian Revolution, Bechenora and her family emigrated to Paris where, as a little girl, she danced at fund-raising events for other Russian refugees. Elena Duchess von Leuchtenberg arranged for her to take lessons from the famed Madame Egorova.

In 1939, Egorova recommended her at the age of thirteen to the internationally known Ballet Russe, which was recruiting the best dancers to escape the threat of war for a tour in Australia. When tours and war were over, Tatiana was in New York City, where she won the role of lead dancer in Rodgers and Hammerstein's, "Carousel," working with choreographer Agnes de Mille. While on the musical's national tour, she met and later married Thomas O'Rourke.

They moved to Dubuque and she began teaching dance at CLARKE COLLEGE in 1958 or 1959, where she staged a production of "Prince Igor." She opened her first studio in the 1960s at 552 1/2 Main St., across from what would become FIVE FLAGS CIVIC CENTER. When the studio building was demolished in the 1970s as part of the city's urban renewal program, Bechenova moved the studio to the Nesler Center.

The Dubuque City Youth Ballet was born when the Orpheum Theater was saved and renovated as Five Flags Theater. It's an association that continued until 2010, with the move to the Grand. The academy has been housed in the Fischer Arcade Building since the early 1980s. It too moved to the Grand in 2010. Both Dubuque institutions are now under the direction of her daughter, Marina O'ROURKE.

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Source:

Lyons, Erica, "Leading Lights of Dance," Arts in the Tri-States, (special publication), Telegraph Herald, May 23, 2019, p. 39