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Area ballet dancers work with Moscow dancers to perform the Great Russian Nutcracker


Some Rochester ballet dancers had the opportunity to work with and perform alongside 40 professional dancers for the Great Russian Nutcracker.

Children aged seven to 17 from the Dance Lab in Rochester got to audition on September 5 for different parts in the show, and on Saturday their hard work pays off as they prepare for the show and meet the professional dancers from Moscow.

As part of Moscow Ballet's Dance With Us program, children with at least one year of ballet training could audition.

Owner of the Dance Lab Joani Lande was contacted by the Moscow Ballet to take part in the auditions.

"They do this Dance With Me program, and I believe they've been working with a different studio in Southeast Minnesota and then they invited us this year," said Lande.

 "I'm really excited to dance with the professional dancers," said Bailey Lent, who has been dancing for eight years.
"And I'm really excited to do the Nutcracker because I've never done it," said Rylie Keefe, who has been dancing for seven years.

"Our studio just opened in 2016 and many of these girls just started this year, but they've been dancing their whole lives," said Lande. "They take a lot of ballet, they take a lot of jazz, a lot of them are competitive dancers, and they're all very excited to be performing with professionals."

Grace Lennon and Margaret Fitz were the Spanish ballet dancers, and wore brand new costumes this year. The show featured 200 hand-sewn, glittering costumes created by one of the oldest theatrical shops in Russia. 

"We have a corset bodice, and a skirt and our fan," said Lennon. Lennon has been dancing for 14 years, and Fitz has been dancing for nine years.

"I just love to just express myself and show what I'm able to do, and I just really like it," said Fitz.

"I dance 'cause it's something that only I can do and I can express myself," said Lennon.

Russian Audition Directors in Moscow Ballet's "Dance with Us" program oversee the selection of student dancers in over 80 cities.

"I'm very excited for them to have the opportunity," said Lande. "I think that it's definitely going to be a big learning experience for them, and it's always good to gain whatever experience you can as a young dancer. And they're going to be very inspired and walk away with a lot of new ideas."

The show kicked off at 3 p.m. at the Mayo Civic Center Auditorium.

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