Baltimost: Annetta Holser, retired ballerina and ballet instructor

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A framed picture of Annetta Holser in the 1950s, when she was a member of Ballets Russes. Photo by Karen Nitkin.

Baltimost is a Baltimore Fishbowl feature series that asks locals what they love about their city. The idea is to celebrate Baltimore and the people who make it so unique.

So what makes Baltimore the Baltimost to you? It could be a favorite place, a great meal, a memorable interaction or something else entirely. Email suggestions to Karen at [email protected]

Annetta Holser, is a retired ballerina and ballet instructor. 

In her words: “Dance was always something that was mine. I have the right temperament. You have to be stable. Grind out the work every day. Dancers are a special type of people. They usually don’t talk a whole lot. They have to listen. 

I don’t want to give my age. Just say I’m a senior citizen. I still live on my own, and I practice ballet every day. My kitchen counter is the perfect height for a barre. I’m also a judge at the Peabody Conservatory for dance scholarships. Village at Home makes it easier for me. They help with things like getting to doctor’s appointments.  

I grew up in Manhattan during World War II. My stepfather was a Russian aristocrat. His father and brother were executed, and he walked out of the country.  

I started dancing at age 10 and knew right away that I wanted to be a professional dancer. I dropped out of high school, but I would say I was home-schooled. I had culture lessons with a Russian countess. Our home was filled with books.

I auditioned for the Ballets Russes and was accepted. We performed throughout the U.S., but after eight months, I tore my meniscus. There wasn’t a surgery for it back then so my dancing career was over. 

I married a young French man and we lived in New Haven, where he was finishing school. Yale’s football doctor did an operation that fixed my knee, but by then I had a child so I decided to become a dance teacher.    

After we divorced, I met my second husband. He was in the Department of Defense and we lived all over the world. I taught dance everywhere we went, including in Korea, where the army sponsored my lessons. I’m very proud that the money I made supported an orphanage there.

When we came back to the U.S., we divorced and I met my third husband. That was my best, happiest marriage. We moved to Baltimore and I taught at the Ballet Royale dance school in Columbia for 19 years, until 2007. 

I taught all my students as though they were talented, even if they weren’t. They had the right to have my attention. Some really moved beautifully but their feet or bodies were not right. Some of my students became important dancers, but of course most did not.

One thing I love about Baltimore is there are so many opportunities to meet people. I’m in the French Club at Johns Hopkins. We get together once a month and talk in French. Anyone can join. It’s such a nice way to make friends.”



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