Great Russian Nutcracker blends local young dancers with professionals

West Virginia

The Great Russian Nutcracker took the stage at Wheeling’s historic Capitol Theatre.

The Moscow Ballet does 56 performances in 40 American cities.

One of those is Wheeling.

They bring in a large corps of professional dancers.

“We have like 40 dancers in the corps de ballet and two principal dancers, so it’s a very professional big ballet company,” said Elena Pedan, audition director and ballerina with the Moscow Ballet.

It’s the classic tale of a young girl who receives a nutcracker doll for Christmas, that comes alive in her dreams and takes her on a worldwide adventure overnight.

Oglebay Institute has coordinated the young local dancers for at least ten years.

There was a hiatus, but now the Great Russian Nutcracker is back in Wheeling.

“In full force with 40 dancers and 75 children from seven different studios,” said Cheryl Pompeo, Oglebay Institute’s director of dance.

At the Stifel Fine Arts Center’s dance studio, they’ve been working with the young ballet students, getting them all on the same page.

“We have a team,” Pompeo said. “Kim Kafana and myself have been working weekends and weekends and weekends with these children.”

The Russians are impressed with the studio and the students.

“They do very good!” said Elena Pedan. “Very good variations on pointe especially. Not every school is doing this on pointe so I’m very proud of them. It’s very good to work with this studio, a professional studio on pointe, especially for girls, it’s very good,”

And this year, woven into their art is a subtle message.

“It’s interesting because most Nutcracker productions, there’s a sugar plum fairy,” noted Pompeo. “But in this Nutcracker, there is a dove of peace instead, to promote peace and love which is the mission of the Moscow Ballet.”

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