About 150 students from dance academies around the Delaware Valley auditioned March 7 for a chance to work and appear as guests of the world- famous Donetsk members, including superstars such as Vadim Pisarev and Inna Dorofeyeva. A few have solo parts, while others perform background poses.
In the last few weeks, the 45 students, ranging in age from 9 to 19, have committed themselves to a strenuous schedule of rehearsals - practicing up to four days per week, sacrificing weekend free time and hustling to get homework completed.
A few whispered frustrations to each other in the dressing rooms about the hectic schedule and Boitsov's demands for precision. But to most, the privilege of being selected makes it all worthwhile.
"I couldn't believe when they picked me," said Krisha Bobila, 11, of Mount Laurel. "They are real professionals and it made me feel proud that they think I'm good enough to perform."
So what is a world-famous, critically acclaimed Russian dance company like this doing at a school auditorium in South Jersey?
In a way, the troupe may be one of the most unique victims of the economic recession.
A year ago, the Donetsk Ballet company traveled to the United States to begin a major cities tour. But when ticket sales faltered and performances were canceled, the 30 members were left stranded here.
The troupe members thought their dilemna might be over when it signed a contract in May with a Philadelphia company called Mascotte Productions that agreed to act as the company's agent. The members came to Philadelphia with high hopes but ended up embroiled in a lengthy legal battle with Mascotte.
Nancy Malmed, director of the Wissahickon Dance Academy, is one of several people helping the dancers stay afloat by offering rehearsal space and support while they search for a new sponsor - a difficult chore in light of economic circumstances.
Malmed, whose husband, lawyer Richard Malmed, helped the dancers get out of the Mascotte contract and maintain their apartments temporarily, suggested the children's performance.
"They did a very successful Nutcracker performance in Hagerstown, Md., with local children, and I asked them if there was another ballet they could adapt to include local students here," Nancy Malmed said. "I thought it was a way to rally support without a tremendous amount of expense." Proceeds from the ticket sales will go to the dance troupe.
IF YOU GO
Time: Sunday, 3 p.m.
Price: $20 in advance, $25 at the door; students $15.
Place: Harrington Middle School auditorium, Moorestown-Mount Laurel Road, Mt. Laurel. To reserve tickets, call 877-2550. Tickets also will be available at the door.