SAN FRANCISCO, CA.— Every year, The Moscow Ballet embarks one of its Vaganova-trained master teachers to over 70 cities where they stay for four months working as Audition Director to American-trained dance students who are enrolled in a program called “DANCE WITH US”. The duties of the Director, are to audition, rehearse, and train these students. Those dancers, selected after two months of auditions, are trained and coached for six weeks to get them ready. In November and December they dance, alongside the professional Moscow Ballet’s dancers, in their yearly Holiday production of THE GREAT RUSSIAN NUTCRAKER.
Being part of the program give those students many advantages: They are trained by a professional ballerina, get to be acquainted with the “real” world of dancing, and will be provided with all their costumes. But best of all, at the end of their training, they will be given the unique chance to share the stage with the professional dancers of The Moscow Ballet during all the performances of the GREAT RUSSIAN NUTCRACKER, to be presented this year in San Francisco, Cupertino, Santa Rosa and Stockton.
Two local girls rehearse their” snow flakes” role
For dance students, ranging in ages from 7 to 16 years old, getting the opportunity to audition for the program is very simple. All it requires is that either their mothers or an adult relative, send an e-mail to The Moscow Ballet, at www.nutcracker.com (adding their name and e-mail at the right corner.) and request to be enrolled in their roster. Those enrolled, will receive a monthly letter in their e-mails which will give them information about Dance. Including the times and places of the Summer, and the Master classes, at The Moscow Ballet. This letter will also inform the parents of the dates, places and hours where the “DANCE WITH US” auditions for 2016 will be held.
This year’s Audition Director, is Kiev, Ukraine born MARIIA SKORUK a Soloist Dancer of The Moscow Ballet during its tours in Holland, England, Switzerland , Mexico, Colombia and Ecuador and China. The daughter of a gymnastics teacher, MARIIA started doing gymnastics, when she was three years old. She tried ballet later on, and was so good as a dancer, that at the age of ten, she was invited to attend the famous ballet school of the Kiev State Opera & Ballet Theatre from where she graduated with a “Diploma of Distinction.” and was invited to join the Pre Kiev State Academy Opera and Ballet Theatre. As a dancer, MARI IA was awarded an “Honorable Mention at the Fifth SERGE LIFAR INTERNATIONAL COMPETITION in Kiev. She also went back to school and got a Choreographic Teaching Degree in 2009, from the Dragomanov Pedagogical University in Kiev, one of the world’s most prestigious universities in the pedagogic Art of Education. We start our interview with MARIIA telling CULTURAL WORLD BILINGUAL:
“The GREAT RUSSIAN NUTCRACKER,” from The Moscow Ballet is a version (of The Nutcracker Ballet) which is not usually seen in the American Productions. ”
C.W.B: How is your NUTCRACKER different?
M.S. "One of the things that is exclusive of the Moscow Ballet is the two persons “Dove of Peace” (created by STANISLAV VLASOV in l993 for the GREAT RUSSIAN NUTCRACKER) a ballet in which two dancers (each with one wing which is 10 feet long and feathered) form a huge flying dove.
MARIIA explains to us that another difference from the American Nutcrackers, is that The Moscow’s NUTCRACKER does not have a Christmas theme, “But it has angels.” she says, “So, in the Moscow Ballet’s version, when The Dove of Peace appears on the stage, there will be lots of angels, their roles danced by the “DANCE WITH US” children who auditioned to dance with us. Also exclusive for the Moscow Ballet are the inclusion of Russian Folk characters such as Father Christmas and The Snow Maidens, which are like angels.”
We must add that the Moscow also have a very elaborate choreography for The Turkish dance, The Chinese Dance and The Spanish dance, and that some of these dances are performed by their professional dancers and the “DANCE WITH US” children.
C.W.B. As the Audition Director of the “DANCE WITH US” program, can you tell our readers something about your students?
M.S: “This year, all the kids that will be dancing with the ballet, in San Francisco and Cupertino are local dance students, that their ages range from 7 to 16 years old, and that all had al least one year of ballet training. They were invited to audition for us and I select those which I consider to be the best ones.”
C.W.B. How many did you select?
M.S. “This time I selected sixty children because we have a lot of clothes (costumes) for them.
C.W.B. What do you do next?
M.S. “As a rule, I audition three of these children per each role and the first thing I do is train them, which means that they have to rehearse their role for six weeks, for five hour every day, before the performance.” It is a lot of work for those children but they enjoy what they are doing.”
“There are many dancing roles for children in the NUTCRACKER” says MARIIA, We have: The party children, the girls and boys, who appear in the first act and “The Mice” who appear in the whole ballet. For girls only, there are: “The Snow Flakes” which is a beautiful part danced by 7 to 9 year old girls. Those dancing in this ballet get to wear beautiful costumes and they have a chance to dance with many of the professional dancers during the performance. Another beautiful dance for girls is done by 4 which we call “The Snow N Maidens.” They are like angels. so they get to dance with the butterflies. We also have four girls for the Russian dance and for the Chinese dance, which is a short dance. The French Variation girls, which are between 8 and l0 years old, dance with the sheep. The Spanish dance uses girls and boys.”
C.W.B. You have a lot of work.
"I don't mind," she tells us smiling. "I love ballet, and I love these kids, they work very hard."
MARIIA, who is herself a professional dancer, will also be dancing along with her students in all the California performances of THE GREAT RUSSIAN NUTCRAKER, a unique ballet that will allow the audience to see, perhaps for the first time, 40 professional dancers of the world's famous Moscow Ballet including two principal dancers EKATERINA BORTIAKOVA dancing the role of Marsha and AKAZHOL MUSSAKHANOV dancing the role of the Nutcraker's prince.
The GREAT RUSSIAN NUTCRACKER will be presented at the Warfield Theatre in San Francisco on Saturday November 28 at 3p.m.and at the Flint Center for the Performing Arts at De Anza College in Cupertino on Friday December 18, at 4pm and at 8pm.