Soili Arvola

 A Global Ballerina, Teacher and Choreographer

At the age of eight, Miss Arvola was accepted to the Ballet Academy of the National Opera House in Helsinki, Finland. After graduating from the Academy at the age of 17, she was invited to join the National Ballet of Finland, and toured with the company around the world.

While dancing with the San Francisco Ballet for 4 years, she and her husband Leo Ahonen started their partnership both on stage and off.

Among her numerous honors, Miss Arvola received a Bronze Medal and a diploma for high artistic achievement in Women's Senior Category (professional category) at the prestigious 1972 International Ballet Competition in Varna, Bulgaria.

In 1975 she was chosen an Outstanding Young Woman of America, she was the Texas State Winner.

Miss Arvola has appeared as the featured guest artist with Finnish National Ballet, Royal Winnipeg Ballet, Chicago Ballet, Houston Ballet, London's Royal Ballet Choreographic Group, Indianapolis Ballet Theatre, Ballet International de Ochi of Japan, and with numerous Symphony Orchestras, Opera Companies and Civic Ballet Companies throughout the United States and abroad.

In 1972 Tokyo's NHK-TV produced a half-hour special of Miss Arvola and Mr. Ahonen in their monthly program: "The World od Music".

Her ballerina roles include: "Swan Lake", "Sleeping Beauty", "Giselle", "Romeo and Juliet", "Cinderella", "Coppelia", "Don Quixote" ... the list is endless.

Miss Arvola's partnership with her husband on stage lasted thirty years. And in 1976 on the Day of Constitution they became Citizens of the United States.

She also choreographs and stages most of the Classics, and lately she has become a creator of "new style" full-length ballets including: "Tarzan", "Dracula", "Samson and Delilah".

Miss Arvola not only choreographs her ballets, she also writes the libretto, chooses the music, and designs and makes the costumes herself. She retired from performing in 2006 after a long, healthy career of 40 years, never cancelling a performance!

In 2005 Miss Arvola received the first Marie Bollinger Vogt Achievement Award at Toledo Ballet's 65th annual "Nutcracker'. In these performances she also danced the role of "Sugar Plum Fairy" for the last time - the role she started portraying in 1970!

In 2009 she was the adjudicator for Regional Dance America/Southwest.



Leo Ahonen was accepted to the Ballet Academy of the National Opera House in Helsinki, Finland at the age of six. 

Mr. Ahonen joined the National Ballet of Finland at the early age of fourteen, and at seventeen guest performed with the Kirov Ballet in Leningrad and the Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow - in the role of Nu-Ali in "Fountains of Bakhtshisarai".

After this glory, he wanted to enter the Kirov Ballet School; Vaganova Choreographic Institute. In Leningrad he became a roommate and life-time friend of the Legendary Rudolf Nureyev.

Mr. Ahonen was a private student of Mr. Konstantin Shatilov and received "The Kirov Trained Certificate" at graduation. He graduated in principal dancer category, dancing the Peasant Pas de Deux from "Giselle".

At the age of twenty-five he was already a recognized teacher in Europe. He received the coveted "Golden Achievement Award for International Pedagogues".

Mr. Ahonen won a Bronze Medal in the Men's Senior Category (professional category) at the Second International Ballet Competition in Varna, Bulgaria.

In National Ballet of Finland he served as a principal dancer, ballet master and company teacher.

He was a principal dancer and company teacher for National Ballet of Holland and Royal Winnipeg Ballet.                 With his wife, Soili Arvola, he danced as a principal dancer with San Francisco Ballet and was noted by the critics as: "The Flying Finn", "West Coast Nureyev", "Finntastic Finn".

Mr. Ahonen's dancing career includes over 300 roles, 3000 performances in 34 countries.

In 1999 he retired as a classical dancer after forty-five years (thirty-five of those years he was a principal dancer). His final performance: "Sayonara Leo!", was held in Nagoya, Japan with Ballet International de Ochi.

At present he is completing the compilation of his diaries into the published memoirs "A Look at Ballet in 50 Years!"