Paul R. Aarnio
Paul Aarnio and Peggy Willis-Aarnio
A biography of the Tour Producerand President of The Peggy Willis Ballet Company of the Conservatory of Classical Ballet, Inc. and The Willis Conservatory of Classical Ballet, Inc.
PAUL R. AARNIO
Paul R. Aarniois one of the original founders of The Peggy Willis Ballet Company of the Conservatory of Classical Ballet, having drawn up the original charter in 1983. Though never a dancer or a choreographer or a ballet teacher, Mr. Aarnio has, none-the-less been deeply involved in the world of Ballet for nearly 20 years, as a manager, a school director, and as a producer for videos, music records, CDís, and for touring theatrical performances.
Mr. Aarnio grew up in the New York Metropolitan area, and attended Wilbraham Academy, a boys preparatory school in Wilbraham, Massachusetts. He is the son of Reino Aarnio, an Architect of International reputation and a gifted painter and photographer as well, and Sylvia (Bachman) Aarnio, a graduate of Juilliard (School of music) and a Coloratura Soprano of International Reputation, so he was immersed in the arts at an early age. Paul holds a Bachelorís of Architecture (B:Arch) degree (with honors), From Cornell University, but, due to the intervention of the Viet Nam War, he never got to put that degree to its intended use.
Instead, on 27 December, Paul was sworn in as an Officer Cadet in the United States Air Force, and fifteen months later, he emerged as a Second Lieutenant and a fledgling pilot in April, 1969. Though he expected to join the rest of his classmates on a first assignment in Viet Nam, he was, instead, selected to become and instructor pilot, and saw his first active duty tour in the Air Training Command, as a T-37 Instructor at Reese Air Force Base (AFB), in Lubbock, arriving there, to assume his new duties in August, 1969.
It was not until September, 1972 (The same Month that his future wife, Prof. Peggy Willis [-Aarnio] arrived in Lubbock to take up her new duties as an Assistant Professor of Dance) that Paul was finally summoned to the conflict in Viet Nam, and left for Hurlburt Field, Florida to train in Special Operations. He spent then next three years in Southeast Asia, first as a Forward Air Controller and Forward Air Guide, and then on the Generalís Staff, first in Saigon and then in Nakhom Phanom, Thailand, as a Tactics, Rules and Operation Authorities advisor to Generals Bellamy, Vogt, OíKeefe, Archer and Burns.
Upon his return to the U.S. in 1975, he was assigned as an Aircraft Commander and then Instructor in the FB-111 Strategic Bombers stationed in Plattsburg, NY. It was only in 1980, when he was re-assigned as an instructor to Reese AFB, in Lubbock, Texas, that he returned to Lubbock, and finally met his Twin Flame, Peggy Willis (-Aarnio).
When Paul first met Prof. Peggy Willis, as a result of his seeing a performance at Texas Techís University Theater, of her "Dracula: the ballet," it did not take him long to see her nearly inexhaustible imagination and energy, as well as her tremendous output of choreography, and dance performances. After meeting Peggy, and learning more about her accomplishments and for her dreams for the future, Paul, aware of the past achievements (accomplished against all odds), decided to create an organization that would honor her accomplishments to date, and help Peggy to achieve her future goals, and, at the same time, changed his own life forever, as well. He, and two friends, formed The Peggy Willis Ballet Company of the Conservatory of Classical Ballet,. Mr. Aarnio was designated as the President, a position he has held (with the exception of an 18 month period when he was on assignment in Saudi Arabia) since the Company was Founded.
Since assuming duties as the President of The Peggy Willis Ballet Company, Paul has experienced, first hand, the inspirational and uplifting effect of Classical Ballet on the human spirit. During his career as a Military officer and pilot, he had an opportunity to acquire knowledge in many areas of sales, marketing, resource management and people skills, which he combined with imagination, and analytical skills to assemble the arsenal of weapons that allowed him to successfully take on the challenges of directing the activities of The Peggy Willis Ballet Company.
Mr. Aarnio played a key role in expanding the operational scope of The Peggy Willis Ballet Company and shaping and directing the new activities.
Learning from both the successes and failures of the first decade of The Peggy Willis Ballet Company's experiences with producing Ballet programs for the students of Prof. Willis-Aarnio at Texas Tech and their Conservatory, in the Lubbock area, importing and working with professional European ballet artists, and mounting tours in the U.S. Southeast and Midwest, Paul, when presented with the opportunity to produce Ballet performances utilizing the finest ballet talent in the world, and when the Tech Dance Program was changed from the Dept. of Health, Recreation and Recreation to the Theatre was able to bring his management, as well as his skills in problem solving/analytical thought, to produce over 400 successful performances of The Saint-Petersburg Ballet, Askold Makarov, Artistic Director starring Prima Ballerina Assoluta, Galina Mezentseva, The Saint-Petersburg Ballet Theatre of Konstantin Tatchkin and now The Saint-Petersburg Classic Ballet Theatre of Marina Medvetskaya in virtually every corner of North America. Over 500,000 people have had an opportunity to experience the spiritual uplift of Classical Ballet done right. In the words of Gary Lindsey, a well-known and respected booking agent specializing in Dance, who has worked as the booking agent for countless dance companies for the past 27 years, and for the Peggy Willis Ballet Touring activities since 1995, "Mr. Aarnio is, perhaps, the most successful producer of International Ballet programs in this (the 20th) centuryÖ."
Mr. Aarnio, as president of The Peggy Willis Ballet Company and The Willis Conservatory of Classical Ballet, is also the Production and Marketing Manager for The Willis Conservatory of Classical Balletís Educational Video/DVD and Music CD activities and entertainment video production.
Paul is married to his Twin Flame, Prof. Peggy Willis-Aarnio, and has a son, Gene, who he is very proud of and now has a Degree in Environmental Science and a daughter Amber, who is he is very proud of also, as she is finishing up her BA Degree and will enter Law School next Fall. In his spare time, Paul enjoys travel, RVíing, boating (power and sail), automobiles, computers, classical music and Classical Ballet.
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