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Russian ballet academy crosses the line for Carroll County performance

"All I ever needed was the music, and the mirror and the chance to dance," sings the character Diana in the 1976 Broadway musical "A Chorus Line."

Her words ring true for one area dance company, because more than grants or donations or publicity, dancers need space to rehearse and to perform.

Performance space becomes an especially rare commodity this time of year with many springtime events and gatherings. The problem of space impacted heavily on Ballet L'Etoile, the Russian Academy of Maryland, and the result is that the Ellicott City-based company is in Carroll County this weekend for this Sunday's "Tribute to Classical Ballet" at Liberty High School in Eldersburg.

Simply put, the company couldn't find a suitable space in Howard County, so crossed the river into Carroll, giving local ballet fans a closer view of Ballet L'Etoile's offering.

"Watch out, Melissa, don't hit your head," cried ballet director Svetlana Kravtsova during a recent rehearsal to her guest prima ballerina, Melissa Zoebisch, who was about to burst through a ceiling panel at a rehearsal.

Some of the dancers gasped with the near miss, but things calmed down as her partner, Alexandru Glusacov, compensated by lowering Melissa into a "fish dive," one of the classical moves that often completes a variation.

"We need a performance space that will show off these beautiful dancers," said Zoebisch, who formed the company with her dancer-husband, Vadim Pijicov.

That better space is Liberty, which boasts a sizable performance theater.

During a recent rehearsal, dancers showed off enthusiasm for the pending show. Teen dancers Arianne Depireux and Rachel Elkis gobble up space faster than you can utter the Russian equivalent of "Wow!"

"This is a special performance for my ballerinas who will be graduating from high school," Zoebisch said. Among her graduating seniors are Vivian Steyert, Abigail Slavinsky, Emily Love, Nicolle Griffith and Elisabeth Slotwinski.

The program for Sunday's spring showcase includes the first act dream scene from the "Don Quixote" ballet; excerpts from "Sleeping Beauty"; and the pas de deux from "Le Corsaire." Russian dancer Vadim Pijikov, who is also a co-director at Ballet L'Etoile, will lend his talent on stage. Recent alumna Maggie Kudira, currently a student at Towson University, will also return to dance a contemporary piece in the second act.

"A Gala Tribute to Classical Ballet" takes place at Liberty High School auditorium, Bartholow Road, Eldersburg, Sunday, May 22 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $25 general, $15 for ages 5-13, and will be available at the door. For information, call 443-851-1650 or send an email to

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