kri Ballets Russes Arts Initiative. About us.


Ballets Russes Arts Initiative is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization that fosters international creative exchange in the visual and performing arts and film, with a special focus on the post-Soviet States and Eastern Europe. Inspired by the example of Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, BRAI presents collaborative, creative, and educational programming by building institutional partnerships with museums, performing companies, universities, and individual art-makers. Based in Boston, Massachusetts, it carries out local programming and outreach events throughout Massachusetts, New England and the East Coast, as well as internationally.

Our new address:
50 Milk St, 16th Floor, Boston, MA 02109

Board and Officers

Executive Director, Anna Winestein is an historian of Russian art and theater, independent curator, and cultural entrepreneur. In addition to co-directing the Ballets Russes 2009 festival in Boston with Peter Rand, she has curated several exhibitions, including Danser Vers La Gloire: L’Age d’Or des Ballets Russes, for Sotheby’s Galerie Charpentier in Paris, and The Magical Reality of Alexandre Benois at the Boston Public Library, for both of which she wrote the catalogues. She is co-editor and co-author of The Ballets Russes and the Art of Design, translator of Alexander Tcherepnin: Saga of an Emigre Composer and author of scholarly articles published in peer-reviewed and lay journals. In 2011, Anna Winestein was a Cultural Envoy to Kazakhstan for the US State Department on a Modern Dance project that she developed with choreographer Rebecca Rice. In 2012, she was Creative Director for the Hermitage Museum Foundation in New York. Most recently she has served as a consultant on film and other programming to the exhibition Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes, 1909–1929: When Art Danced with Music at the National Gallery in Washington, and has contributed an essay to the catalogue of an exhibition at the BonnefantenMuseum in Maastricht, The Big Change: Revolutions in Russian Painting. A former Fulbright Scholar, Ms. Winestein holds degrees in art history, painting and economics, and is currently finishing a doctorate in modern history at Oxford University. Her dissertation examines Russian artists in Paris from 1870 to 1930, but her other research ranges, including aspects of dance and theater history, cultural exchange between Russia and Europe in late imperial times, and the Russian emigration.

Chairman, Raoul Alcala heads a consulting firm, Alcala Enterprises, which specializes in foreign policy and national security issues. As a White House Fellow during the Ford and Carter administrations, he served as a special assistant to the Federal Energy Administrator and to the President’s National Security Advisor. A graduate from the U.S. Military Academy, he holds masters degrees from Yale University in international relations and political science. He retired from the Army in 1991 as a Colonel after a distinguished career that included teaching and leadership positions.

Treasurer, George Gagliardi
George Gagliardi is the founder and principal of Coromandel Wealth Management, which he formed after a successful career as a technology industry executive, small business entrepreneur, and management consultant. George is a Phi Beta Kappa and Magna Cum Laude graduate of Yale University with a degree in Engineering and Applied Science, and holds an MBA from Babson College with Highest Distinction. He is a Board member and Treasurer of the Children's Center of Lexington, Board member and Treasurer of 51 Walden, Board member of Friends of Lexington Bikeways, member of the Lexington Bicycle Advisory Committee; and past President and Treasurer of Yale Science & Engineering Association, as well as past Board Member of the Yale Club of Boston.

Chairman Emeritus, Peter Rand is a writer of fiction and nonfiction who has contributed to many publications. His latest book is the non-fiction thriller Conspiracy of One: Tyler Kent's Secret Plot against FDR, Churchill, and the Allied War Effort. He is the author of four works of fiction, including the novels Firestorm and Gold from Heaven, and of the nonfiction book China Hands: The Adventures and Ordeals of the American Journalists Who Joined Forces with the Great Chinese Revolution and the editor of Scarlet Memorial. Rand is also the co-editor of Deng Xiaoping: Chronicle of an Empire, Tiananmen Follies: Prison Memoirs and other Writings by Dai Qing, and The Ballets Russes and the Art of Design, and co-translator and editor of Zhou Enlai: The Last Perfect Revolutionary by Gao Wenqian. Rand has taught at Columbia University, Harvard University and Boston University.

Kent dur Russell is the Curator and CEO of the Museum of Russian Icons, Clinton MA since it opened in early 2007. Kent spent the previous 11 years as director of the Higgins Armory Museum in Worcester, MA. Educated at Trinity College Dublin and CCNY, Mr. Russell began his career at the National Gallery of Ireland in Dublin. Other appointments in Ireland followed, and then in New York City, where he worked at the New Museum, The Studio Museum of Harlem and the New Museum of Hispanic Art. He has also worked as art critic for the Phoenix Magazine Dublin and has published reviews in the Burlington Magazine, London and other publications. Mr. Russell is involved in numerous civic, social and cultural organizations, including being a Trustee of Tower Hill Botanic Gardens, Masshumanities, and Music Worcester. He also is an Incorporator at the Worcester Art Museum, Higgins Armory Museum, Greater Worcester Community Foundation, and on the advisory board of the Non Profit Support Center. He served as president of the New England Museum Association from 2005 to 2007 and has been chair of the American Association of Museum Council of Regions. He was the founding chairman of the Worcester Cultural Coalition, during which time he received the Keys to the City of Worcester from Mayor Timothy Murray in 2002.

Jeffrey Sexton spent 30 years with the United States Department of State as a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, achieving the rank of Minister Counselor, He has wide-ranging experience leading teams, negotiating outcomes and managing resources for some of the Department of State’s largest and most strategic public diplomacy programs. While his core expertise is in the Russophone world, where he was posted twice to Russia, as well as to Kazakhstan, he also had extensive experience working in Asia, with postings in Australia, Korea, and Hong Kong, as well as work experience in countries as diverse as Malaysia, Japan, Bangladesh, the Philippines and North Korea. Jeff holds a Master of Arts degree in international relations from the University of Southern California, as well as Bachelor of Music degree in piano performance from the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University. Jeff’s love for music has strongly influenced his work as a diplomat and his belief in the power of the arts to bridge diverse cultures; he is a passionate advocate for using the arts to further America’s diplomacy around the world.

Renee Vassilos
is a Dutch-American Agricultural Economist with over fifteen years of agriculture industry experience. Her expertise ranges from strategic market analysis and product development to sales, marketing and distribution strategy. She has lived and worked abroad- three years in Amsterdam and six years in Beijing- contributing to her robust global experience, cultural competence, and network. Today, Vassilos is sharing her expertise through her consulting business. She utilizes her global cross-functional experience from working for the U.S. Department of Agriculture and John Deere to support the growth of sustainability-focused agriculture businesses. She has a BS and MS in Agricultural Economics from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana and University of California, Davis, respectively.

Maria Yulikova
is a former Moscow (Russia) based journalist and editor. Having immigrated to the US in 2016, Maria is switching back to the cultural field after working as an editor for Russian media and international organizations for over a decade. She used to contribute to the Moscow Carnegie Center as a chief editor, the OSCE Election Observation Mission at the Russian presidential elections in 2012, and other major international organizations. Starting her new life in another country, Maria launched a small business as an interior decorator, developed a website for her Dad, a contemporary Russian artist, and organizes small concerts and jazz jams locally. Maria holds a Ph.D. in comparative literature from the Russian State University for the Humanities and the Master's Degree in Law and Diplomacy, from Fletcher School, Tufts University.

BRAI Interns:
Summer 2017 Mark Maysky
Spring 2017 Daria Lugina
2015-16 Anna Eisner
2014-15 Alicia Anger
2014 Julia Sinitsky
2013-14 Julia Diamond


The inspiration behind BRAI is a legendary performing company with Russian roots that flowered in Europe and became a unique example of international collaboration and cultural exchange, transforming the aesthetic environment of modern life. Between 1909 and 1929 this troupe crossed aesthetic and national boundaries, awakening audiences to a new artistic vision, spurring innovation in the fine arts and helping cement lasting ties between Russia, Europe and America.

In May 2009 the Ballets Russes Cultural Partnership (as BRAI was then known) presented the Ballets Russes 2009 festival, which honored the artistic innovations and lasting influence of the Ballets Russes on Western culture. The only festival of its kind in the US, it explored all of the art forms influenced by the Ballets Russes, and brought together in Boston participant institutions and individuals from Moscow, St. Petersburg, and the New England Area. The program of events included dance and musical performance, exhibitions, films, an academic conference, a ball and other activities. Before the centenary, beginning in 2007, BRCP organized programming that included performances and lectures. Since 2010, BRAI/BRCP has continued to present events in Boston and elsewhere in the US, most recently several film festivals and series, and has worked to develop cultural projects, especially exhibitions, in Russia and other post-Soviet countries.


BRAI aspires to be a broker of innovative collaboration between arts institutions and audiences in the independent states created out of the former Soviet Union, and in the US (as well as other countries), leading to exchange of ideas and developing greater cultural understanding between people. In facilitating international projects in the visual and performing arts, BRAI strives to enrich the arts and disseminate novel ideas and approaches that lead to cultural flowering and harmonious international dialogue. Inspired by the innovative and international aesthetic legacy of the Ballets Russes, BRAI was founded in 2007 to broaden the cross-border sharing of cultural riches by addressing two challenges that hinder successful engagement: underdeveloped institutional and personal relationships, as well as arts institutions that are burdened with multiple objectives. BRAI serves the general public as well as students, scholars and seniors, focusing its energies not only on major metropolitan but satellite communities.

Past Board Members

George Kosar is Director of Foundation Relations at Boston University. He previously served as associate director of corporate and foundation relations at Tufts University, focusing on fundraising for the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. Kosar is an associate of the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard University. His research focuses on the Russian Revolution of 1917-1918 and the history of philanthropy. He is a graduate lecturer at Northeastern University’s College of Professional Studies and an instructor at Harvard University’s Extension School. He received a Ph.D. in comparative history from Brandeis University.

James Kenney is a retired diplomat who spent thirty years in the Foreign Service, concluding his career as Councillor for Public Affairs at the US Embassy in Moscow. He has a Ph.D. in Russian history.

Catherine Mannick is a senior legal and business executive with significant international experience in Western Europe, Latin America and the former Soviet Union, and an investor in early stage businesses. After the opening of the Soviet Union in the late 1980s, Catherine joined the Boston law firm Hale and Dorr (now Wilmer Hale) as co-chair of its Russian Practice Group. She subsequently worked in senior legal and business positions for a number of US based businesses entering the former Soviet market, including a boutique investment fund focused on Russian technology start-ups. Catherine serves as a director of both for profit and non-profit organizations: she is currently a director and member of Launchpad Venture Group, a Boston area angel investing group, and of the Rostropovich Vishnevskaya Foundation. Catherine holds a B.A. magna cum laude in Russian Studies from Yale University, an M.A. in History from Harvard University, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. She has studied law as an IREX research fellow at Moscow State University.

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Anna Winestein

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