On the Town

Ballet Theater of Annapolis' Cosmopolitan Nutcracker

Photofeature by Norbert M. duBois

Where does a Chinese lass meet a Russian lad?

At the Ballet Theatre of Annapolis.

It's here that Edward Stewart directs a company of dancers that includes two principal dancers of international experience. Recently arrived from The Peoples Republic of China as guest artist in residence is Zhirui Zou, 22, a principal ballerina with the Central Ballet of China in Beijing. Now in his second year with the Annapolis company is Dimitry Toboltsev, 33, formerly of Russia's world-famous Kirov Ballet and Bolshoi Ballet companies.

How do lad and lass, dancers and directors, communicate across the miles?

Ballet is a universal language. Dancers from Europe, Asia, the Americas - just about every place in the world - stand on common ground and - for the terms of their artistry - share French as a common language. Proving the point is the theater's holiday offering, The Nutcracker, which combines German Ernst Theodor Amadeus Hoffman's story with the music of Russian Pyotr Ilich Tchaikovsky.

Improving the artistic amalgamation at the Ballet Theater of Annapolis are the personalities of these two shining socialist stars, Zhirui Zou and Dimitry Toboltsev. Both are personable and engaging with their American comrades. "We work hand in hand together, and they are both very respectful and easy to work with," says director Stewart.

Danseuse and Nutcracker Sugar Plum Fairy Leslie Bradley reports that Zou, who is locally called Regina, amuses fellow dancers with episodes of her experiences in America. Toboltsev, Stewart notes, helps build camaraderie in the company's often grueling rehearsals.

Both speak English with limitation, but where words fail, gestures, nods and smiles prevail.Nutcracker

photo at right by Beauregard

Dancers of such caliber are typically found in major capital cities - New York, Toronto, Chicago. To see such fine dance art (at bargain ticket pricing) in a local company is a rare opportunity. Stewart calls it "an indication of how the company has grown over the years."

See for yourself at Ballet Theatre of Annapolis' The Nutcracker, as Zou dances Clara opposite Tubolstev's Nutcracker Prince at 8pm Dec. 5 & 12; again at 2pm Dec. 12; and 3pm Dec. 6 & 13: 410/263-2909.

Also dancing in The Nutcracker, in shared roles, are Anmarie Touloumis, Sugar Plum Fairy; Anton Wilson and Aram Manukyan, Snow King and Mouse King; and Natasha Kiryanova and Sandra Prehoda, Snow Queen.

Norbert M. duBois - photojournalist, dancer and linguist - lives in Hyattsville.

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VolumeVI Number 48
December 3-9, 1998
New Bay Times

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