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Local Dance Students perform in The Great Russian Nutcracker Dec. 3

Nutcracker 1 RS

Front Row : RJ Sherwood, Lydia Coe, Ava Westmorland, Aniya Stewart, Kali Schmitt, Lula Kate Seagrave, Maggie Baker, Tatiana Santos, Amber Guzy, Camilla Brady Presley Dowell.  Middle Row: Island Shuler, Marlee Kerestes, Claire Brown. Back Row: Lydia Kampe, Caroline Jones, Gracie Staneck, Katherine Grace Brown, Meredith Brown, Allie Messer, MaKenna Zullo.

The Annual Great Russian Nutcracker will include 70 local dance students this year, in its performance at The US Cellular Center this Sunday, December 3rd, at 3:00 pm.

25 years and 2 generations later, over 75,000 local ballet students, ages 6 to 18 with at least 1 year of ballet training, perform side-by-side with Moscow Ballet pros. In Asheville, the “Dance with Us” cast will perform their roles in the traditional performance, known to many around the world. The ballet students, who study at ballet schools in the area, auditioned for Moscow Ballet Audition Director Olena Pedan in the fall, and rehearsed their roles at the Moscow Ballet Host Dance Studio Center Stage Dance Studio. The children’s roles are as Party Children, Small Mice, Snowflakes, Snow Sprites, Snow Maidens, and Act II’s Variations of the world’s five great heritages. The experience of auditioning for a professional, rehearsing with the company, being fitted in Moscow Ballet costumes, and performing for a live audience of a thousand or more is often a once-in-a-lifetime experience for these young dancers.

Nutcracker 2 SM

Front Row, L to R: Olivia Westmoreland, Paris Ar, Cora Shelton, Mya Kerestes, Grace KanipeBack Row, L to R: Ella Haldeman, Mackenzie Thies, Louci Thomason, Riede Thies, Mallory Ray

Local student dancers attend a variety of local schools including Valley Springs Middle, TC Roberson High, Veritas Academy, Asheville Christian Academy, Carolina Day, Koontz Middle, and Asheville Catholic.

Center Stage Dance Studio has been ‘dancing” since 1979 and offers classes in a variety of styles for children ages 3 to 18. It is Western North Carolina’s top-rated dance facility and is unique among dance studios in the area; all faculty hold degrees in dance or early childhood education, have danced with a professional company or maintain membership in Dance Masters of America. Founder Michele Lee remains committed to offering the highest quality dance education to students. The success of Center Stage lies in maintaining positive relationships with students and forming a life-long love of dance.

“Dance with Us” youth performance program, celebrates 25 years in 2017. This program brings more than 75,000 Canadian and American ballet students (60 cities x 60 students x 25 years) on stage to perform side-by side with the 40 professionals in cities on the tour since 1993. The aspiring ballerinas and danseurs, ages 7 to 17, perform in ancillary roles developed for their age and skill level by dancer, choreographer and Julliard graduate Mary Giannone Talmi, also co-producer of Moscow Ballet’s North American tours. Underwritten by Moscow Ballet, the program delivers Ballerina from the company, who also has experience teaching and working with youth, to each city to audition and rehearse the local dancers for several days, leaving the local Host Ballet Studio to rehearse the children for 6-8 weeks prior to the performance.

Moscow Ballet – 2017 marks Moscow Ballet’s 25th consecutive year touring North America performing the acclaimed story ballets the Great Russian Nutcracker, Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, Romeo and Juliet, Cinderella and more. The company is known for presenting award-winning Ballerinas and Danseurs, from Lilia Sabitova in 1994 to Honored Artist of Russia Tatiana Predenia in 2002 to Andrey Batalov, former Principal Danseur with the Mariinsky Theatre in 2016. The company performs more than 100 engagements annually across Canada and the United States’ to sell-out audiences in the some of the finest performing arts venues. In addition to public performances, Moscow Ballet’s North America tours have always included community engagement programs. “Dance with Us” shares the Russian Vaganova ballet training with over 6000 American dance students annually bringing them on stage in ancillary roles to perform side-by-side with the professionals. Underwritten by Moscow Ballet, the program was developed by choreographer and co-producer Mary Giannone Talmi. “New Horizons – A Children’s Program for Life” is a cultural immersion program benefitting thousands of children across the country annually and Musical Wunderkind also connects the Russian dancers directly with American children and young adults. In addition, many Moscow Ballet performances have a fund-raising component for organizations such as hospitals, children’s museums and more.

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