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56 Chicago Children Perform with Moscow Ballet in the GREAT RUSSIAN NUTCRACKER Today

56 Chicago Children Perform with Moscow Ballet in the GREAT RUSSIAN NUTCRACKER Today

Fifty-six Chicago area children have been selected to join 40 professional dancers from the esteemed Moscow Ballet in the 2013 production of the "Great Russian Nutcracker." The young dancers and their professional counterparts take the stage at 3 p.m. today, December 8, 2013, at the Rosemont Theatre, 5400 N. River Road, Rosemont, Illinois. The afternoon also features holiday songs and carols by Chicago's Southport Performing Arts Conservatory's choir. Tickets start at $26 and can be purchased online atticketmaster.com or by calling 1-800-320-1733.

The young dancers, an integral part of the show, were selected from two open auditions held in the Chicago area this past summer. The children are between the ages of 7-16 and represent the city of Chicago, Chicago suburbs as well as Plainfield and Joliet, Illinois. The participation of the children dancers is part of the Moscow Ballet's "Dance with Us" program which brings local dancers on stage to dance side-by-side with professional company members. Choreography master for the local dancers is headed by Altin Naska, co-founder of Chicago's Southport Performing Arts Conservatory and former professional dancer. Naska has partnered with the Moscow Ballet and overseen the audition process, weekly rehearsals and performance of the young Chicago dancers for the past seven years.

"All young dancers dream of being a part of the 'Nutcracker,'" said Naska. "Their hard work and dedication pays off as they take the stage to be a part of such a grand holiday experience and their time on stage gives them memories to last a lifetime. This is a tremendous opportunity for young dancers to understand the discipline, teamwork and fun that is involved in a professional production."

The "Great Russian Nutcracker" is a lavish production that is perfect for all ages. It features principal dancers Ekaterina Bortiakova, Akzhol Mussakhanov, Viktor Shcherbakov, Karyna Shatkovskaya and Vladimir Tkachenko along with 200 hand-embellished costumes created in St. Petersburg's oldest theatrical costume shop and designed by Arthur Oliver. Hand-painted, three-dimensional sets, falling snow, a growing Christmas tree, astounding dancing and a heartwarming holiday tale help make the "Great Russian Nutcracker" a joy for young and old alike.

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by Barnett Serchuk