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From Russia with love

Not too many people can say they have danced beside a professional Russian ballerina, but for 100 young ballet dancers from Western New York, it is a reality.

At 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday, the Moscow Ballet will stage its annual performance of the "Great Russian Nutcracker" at Shea's Performing Arts Center. Of all the Nutcrackers on stage this season in Buffalo, the Moscow Ballet is the only professional company performing this holiday favorite. Alongside the all-Russian cast will be 100 young local dancers. They auditioned in October before Russian ballet mistress Maria Sikorskaya for roles as snowflake, party guest, mouse, angel, Arabian, Spanish, Chinese, Russian, or French variation.

Rehearsals have been strenuous. Every Saturday, from 1 to 4 p.m. the dancers learn their steps. "I think it's nice for the kids," says Clare Fetto of the Festival School of Ballet, who runs the rehearsals. "It's a bunch of them with different backgrounds, whether it be tap, jazz, ballet or even aerobics, getting to know each other in a situation they might not usually be in is good for them."

Dancers with a little more ballet experience were given parts in Act 2 of "The Nutcracker." Cleveland Hill sophomore Laura Fetto was chosen to be in the Arabian dance. "The rehearsals are demanding, but whatever difficulties we go through, we always remember the prize that comes at the end," says Laura. "I've been dancing in the Russian Nutcracker for about five years now and it keeps getting better each year."

Janis Connor is a sophomore at Hutch-Tech.

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