Children join dance company in 'Great Russian Nutcracker'

Forty-eight area children ages six to 17 will become a part of an international dance company in tonight's performance of the Moscow Ballet's "The Great Russian Nutcracker."

Beginning at 7:30 p.m., these children will join 50 Russian dancers on stage at Emens Auditorium. Laura Lee of the Moscow Ballet said the Russian dancers come from GITS, an old Soviet acronym that translates into the National Academy of Theatrical Arts.

Before the tour began, five Russian ballerinas were sent to audition local children in each of the 63 American cities where the tour will perform.

The ballerinas then left it up to area dance companies to rehearse with the children. In Muncie, Lisa Prymek at the Muncie Ballet Studio was selected to help the children clean up their dances.

Prymek said the children are not treated as professionals, and the dancers are specific to each child's individual skill level.

"It's basically an opportunity for children to experience the arts first-hand," Prymek said. "The children are very excited, but of course, this is a scary thing, especially at a young age."

Prymek's efforts will be visible when each child is dressed in one of the Moscow Ballet's 300 costumes. Prymek described the attire as "exquisite" with hand braiding and embroidery.

"I'd sure like to claim them," she said. "It's fascinating just to see the costumes alone."

Besides authentic costuming, the Moscow Ballet chose to perform the Nutcracker in the same way it was performed when it first opened. According to nutcrackerballet.net, the ballet is originally based on E.T.A. Hoffman's book called "The Nutcracker and the Mouse King."

The ballet traces the dream of a young girl who receives a nutcracker on Christmas Eve.

"It's definitely a ballet that appeals to younger people," Lee said. "It appeals to the imagination."

In 1891, choreographer Marius Petipa commissioned Tchaikovsky to compose the music for the ballet, and the first performance took place a year later at the Mariinsky Theater in St. Petersburg, Russia.

The Moscow Ballet chose to stay true to the original version, ending the dream in the Land of Peace and Harmony rather than in the Land of Sweets.

Besides the Nutcracker, the Moscow Ballet decided to to include soloist Lana Kazantsevas's special performance of "The Dying Swan" along with the Nutcracker performance in effort to commemorate Sept. 11 attacks.

Tickets to tonight's 7:30 performances are available at the Emens Auditorium Box Office. Prices range between $18 and $38 and are available from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. The Box Office will reopen one hour before the show.


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