Andrei Malaev-Babel has been selected as director of the FSU/Asolo Conservatory for Actor Training, the Florida State University College of Fine Arts and School of Theatre announced.
Malaev-Babel, an expert on Russian theater and acting techniques and an award-winning director and scholar who served as head of acting at the Conservatory for more than a decade, succeeds Greg Leaming, who recently retired. Malaev-Babel began his tenure on July 1.
The Conservatory, located in Sarasota, is a three-year graduate program culminating in a Master of Fine Arts degree. Only 12 students annually are chosen to participate in the program, which combines rigorous classroom training with guest artist workshops and professional production experience through its partnership with Asolo Repertory Theatre. It has regularly been ranked among the top 10 programs in the United States and the top 25 in the English-speaking world.
“Having served as a faculty member at the Conservatory since 2006, Andrei Malaev-Babel is no stranger to FSU, Asolo Rep or the Sarasota community,” said James Frazier, dean of the FSU College of Fine Arts. “He is a true leader in the field of actor training, and we are thrilled to be engaging him in this new role.”
Malaev-Babel continues a distinguished international career, having co-founded and served as artistic director for both the Stanislavsky Theater Studio in Washington, D.C., and the Moscow Chamber Forms Theatre in Russia.
“The exceptional talent of the FSU/Asolo Conservatory students has been an important part of the success of Asolo Rep’s mainstage shows, and as head of acting, Andrei has greatly contributed to that level of excellence,” said Asolo Rep Managing Director Linda DiGabriele. “His passion for training young artists is inspiring, and we welcome him enthusiastically to this leadership position at the Conservatory.”
Malaev-Babel has authored numerous books and articles and received awards, including the 20th International Green Wave Book Fair Grand Prize in 2016 in Ukraine. In the same year, he was awarded the International Moscow Jewish Film Festival’s Grand Jury Prize for the film documentary “Finding Babel,” for which he served as co-writer and principal actor. In 2020, he received a Fulbright Award from the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State, hosted by The Polish National Film, Television and Theatre School in Lodz.
Above all, Malaev-Babel is dedicated to the success and development of his students.
“Our job is to help our actors to train as fine professionals, but also to help them become better artists, who can bring positive change into the world,” he said.
Academically, Malaev-Babel is best known internationally for his work related to 20th century Russian theatre practitioner Nikolai Demidov, having translated many of his works into English and specializing in Demidov’s School of Acting.
“My work on Demidov is one of my accomplishments that I am most proud of,” said Malaev-Babel. “After I had the chance to recreate (the Demidov School) at the FSU/Asolo Conservatory, I took it to Russia, Ukraine, Brazil, China and England, among other countries. Today, I head the Demidov Association and curate schools practicing these principles all over the world, some run by our alumni.”
During the past two years, performing artists were heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and as a professor and head of acting, Malaev-Babel stepped up to ensure that his students could continue their training in a meaningful way, setting an example for his peers around the world.
“In March of 2020, like every acting teacher, I panicked,” he recalled. “How could you possibly teach acting on Zoom? But I went to my first online class pretending that is how it had always been done, and our students thrived.”
By May of 2020, Malaev-Babel was delivering a keynote address about how to teach acting online via Zoom to an international forum based in Shanghai. He credits the adaptability of the Demidov School for making this virtual transition, and later rehearsing while wearing masks, seem natural.
For more information about the FSU/Asolo Conservatory for Actor training, visit AsoloRep.org/Conservatory.
Learn more about Asolo Rep, and purchase tickets to upcoming performances at AsoloRep.org.