Classical ballet

TODAY only: “Tribute to Classical Ballet” at L’Etoile, The Classical Ballet Theater of Maryland

Dance preview: The Star dances a jewel of ballet

Pretty pastel costumes, new ribbons on toe shoes, tiaras that sparkle like a shiny new penny – these are signs of spring recitals where young dancers awaken to the beauty of ballet.

And no one offers a finer dance program than Svetlana Kravtsova and Vadim Pijicov, founding directors of L’Etoile, The Classical Ballet Theater of Maryland. Their Columbia-based company will perform a Tribute to classical ballet this Saturday night at the Montgomery College Cultural Arts Center in Silver Spring.

Guest artist Ruslan Mukhambetkeliyev launches The Corsair on Saturday May 20. Photo courtesy of L’Etoile, The Classical Ballet Theater of Maryland.

During a recent program for guests and families, we watched Kravtsova rehearse the rarely staged “The Anime Garden” from The Corsaira work that highlights the well-trained dancers of L’Etoile and showcases the bravery of guest artist Ruslan Mukhambetkeliyev of Kazakhstan (and more recently the Pittsburgh Ballet).

Set to a score by Adolphe AdamThe Corsair is a sparkling gem of 19th century repertoire – think pirates and princesses and plenty of flying leaps across the stage. This Arabic ballet with original choreography by Petipa remains the perfect introduction to a ballet tale.

For me, however, it was a treat to watch Mukhambetkeliyev soar as Ali, the slave who throws himself at Medora’s feet, a coveted role that teenage ballerina Grace Zhang performs with smoothness and precise technique. He reminds this writer of a young Rudolf Nureyev who could gobble up space faster than you can translate “Wow” into Russian. Her magic begins when she falls into the arms of her suitor in the familiar no two, then is carried high above his head. Magnificent.

Kravtsova and Pijicov have created a business that continues to amaze us. Hannalise Shaughnessy shines in the second act variation; Andrea Fox takes off in a large jet, then appears to sit in midair. Meanwhile, Ashley Xu performs a contemporary piece and Jacob Blank breaks into a lively folk dance that closes the program’s first act.

“It’s a special performance for my ballerinas who are going to finish their secondary studies”, sighs the former first dancer who somehow manages to transform budding dancers into beautiful ballerinas. The high school graduates are: Grace Zhang and Jeanne Doyle.

Tribute to classical ballet rooms TODAYMay 20, 2017, at L’Etoile, Maryland’s Classical Ballet Theater performing at the Montgomery College Cultural Arts Center, 7995 Georgia Avenue, in Silver Spring, MD. For tickets, call the box office at (443) 393-1197, or buy them in line.