Exclusive Interview with photos by: Iride Aparicio

SARATOGA, CA –Solo Ballerina  MARIIA SKORUK (pictured Left, with student ZaZu Lippert)  Graduated with a “Diploma of Distinction” and a Choreographic Teaching Degree in 2009  from the  National Dragomanova Pedagogical University in Kiev, Russia. As  MOSCOW BALLET Solo dancer, her  repertoire includes the entire range of the classic ballets.  But SKORUK is a dancer with a mission, and her mission is to teach dancing. So, in her role as Audition Director of the MOSCOW BALLET  “DANCE WITH US” program, she travels from Kievto to 20 Cities in the United States to train young Ballet students to dance in the GREAT RUSSIAN NUTCRAKER production of the MOSCOW.

One hundred per cent underwritten by the MOSCOW BALLET and Developed by MARY GIANNONE TALMI, a graduate of the Juilliard School and a pioneer of the regional dance movement, and AKIVA TALMI during  the first MOSCOW BALLET GREAT RUSSIAN NUTCRAKER Tour in l993, “DANCE WITH US” is an 80 American Cities tour which allows young  dancers from different ballet schools, to get free instruction from SKORUK  (There is a $50.00 participation fee) to be able to dance in the roles of party children, mice, snow flakes, snow maidens, and in the Spanish, Russian, Chinese and French variations in the  MOSCOW BALLET  GREAT RUSSIAN NUTCRAKER local performance.  


MARIIA SKORUK with student EMILY SHEN (front)

CULTURAL WORLD BILINGUAL had the opportunity to interview MARIIA during one of her classes in Saratoga. She identifies herself as a Solo Dancer and Audition Director of the MOSCOW BALLET, and when asked  if she came all the way from Russia to  prepare the Saratoga  students for their  December 20th performance at the Flint Center.  she told us: “Yes. Originally, I am from Ukraine. but I have been working wih the MOSCOW BALLET in Kiev, so II have been coming to the United States from Kiev for three years now.

C.W.B. “When did you arrive in the United States?”

M.S: “This time I came on August.

C.W.B. Tell our readers something about yourself.

She smiles shyly, with a lovely smile. Her voice is mellow. She still speaks English with a heavy Russian Accent, but she is fluent in the English language.

M.S. I began to dance when I was three years old and I loved the ballet. When I was ten, I was invited to attend the famous ballet school in Kiev State Opera and Ballet Theater and I did that for sixteen years.  Now I am doing this program for the MOSCOW BALLET. I love teaching, young students  to dance.


I like this part of my life. This  work is not a work for me. It gives me a chance to travel, to see a lot of different places, meet many people. And work with young dancers. (Above: Mariia teaching 7 years old Ceira Motoyam)

C.W.B.  How many students are you going to be training here?

M. S. In Saratoga, I have 50 students,  some of which I will be dancing with in the Snowflakes ballet,  but not all the students are from here. Some of them are from different schools in Cupertino.

C.W.B. How were these students selected for the production?

M.S. All the ballet students who have one year (or more) of Ballet training are  invited to audition for our NUTCRACKER. This year I held the audition at Saratoga School of Dance on October 7, and I auditioned students from 7 to 17 years old. Depending on their ability, each one was selected to dance a different roles  This ballet has many roles so the little ones can just run around with their beautiful costumes. The most difficult parts go to the older students, But every student will dance at the GREAT RUSSIAN NUTCRAKER,

 C.W.B. You have danced in all the so called Classics, are you going to be dancing in the MOSCOW’s performance  this year?

“Yes,” she says, looking really excited,  "his year I  will be doing roles in the “Snow flakes” ballet  and in the  French variations. As a dancer, I love the classic ballets but since I don’t have much time to learn other types of ballet dancing I will continue dancing in the classic ballets. I have danced solos in Cinderella,  Bayadere, and other classic ballets and I love to dance by myself.  Dancing is fun to me, I really enjoy it. (MARIIA in performance, is shown on the below picture. Photo Credit: Moscow Ballet)

Mariia Skoruk.jpg“As I told you before,” she continues “ Ballet is not work for me, I dance for three hours every day. I have danced all my life, Now I am teaching ballet to the kids, but when I am home I take different ballet classes in the theatre, every day, for two or three hours, and then I have a performance. I used to take ballet for seven to eight hours a day when I was a kid growing in Ukraine.  Now, I always have to practice because I go on tours with the ballet all over Russia and Europe.”

MARIIA may be to humble to admit it to us, but she is one of the best solo Ballerinas at he MOSCOW BALLET.

C.W.B.  Tell us something about the GREAT RUSSIAN NUTCRAKER .

M.S. “I know that during this time, ballets dance many different versions of the NUTCRAKER, ballet in the United States, but The GREAT RUSSIAN NUTCRAKER is a completely  different kind of performance on the stage, and it has lots of magic scenes.”

"The MOSCOW BALLET GREAT RUSSIAN NUTCRACKER, is performed to Tchaikovsky’s full music score, and it includes the prologue (not usually played) and a lot of Russian touches. It opens with the “Onion Dome” of the Moscow skyline, uses Life Sized Matrushka (Nesting Dolls) the famous Snow Forest and a scene with a Russian Troika Sleigh."

 “There are some variations and some dances with different styles.” says MARIIA "Exclusive to the MOSCOW ballet is the “Dove of Peace,” which is created by two dancers each one carrying a  a ten foot wing (When the two wings  are together their spam is 20 feet long) This bird means harmony to the people. That is why it is called the Dove of Peace.  Another character from the  Russian Folk Heritage in the ballet is  “Father Christmas,” (who is similar to Santa Claus) but not dressed in red but dressed in a beautiful  long white dress and blue collar, and there is “The Snow Maiden” who is the granddaughter of Father Christmas, who is also dressed in a beautiful white dress with blue collar. She is like an angel.  Other characters in the play are the sorcer and Masha the girl who falls in love with the Nutcracker prince on Christmas Evening.It is my favorite ballet because it is magical."

The GREAT RUSSIAN NUTCRACKER children      Photo: Moscow Ballet

Moscow Ballet's Great Russian Nutcracker - Arriving at the Stahlbaum's Party

For those wanting to experience its magic, the Moscow Ballet's Great Russian Nutcracker will be performed at The Warfield (888-929-7849) in San Francisco at 7:00 PM on Monday, December 19th and at the Flint Center (800-745-3000) in Cupertino 4:00PM and 8:00PM on Tuesday, December 20th. Go to for Ticket information.