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In the Spotlight: Local dance school hosting auditions for Moscow Ballet’s ‘Great Russian Nutcracker’

Spotlight owner

Marianna Jarrett is owner of Spotlight Dance Co., which has moved to a new location on North Church Street. Jon C. Lakey/Salisbury Post

Marianna Jarrett is owner of Spotlight Dance Co., which has moved to a new location on North Church Street. Jon C. Lakey/Salisbury Post

By Susan Shinn

For The Salisbury Post

SALISBURY — The lilting strains of classical music waft across the dance studio as the young ballet dancers stand at the barre. They rise into the air, their heels lifted. They raise arms and legs gracefully as they follow their teacher’s instructions.

In a couple of weeks, the studio will be filled with the familiar music of “The Nutcracker” as Spotlight Dance Company has been chosen as the Durham audition site for the beloved ballet.

Moscow Ballet’s “Great Russian Nutcracker” will be performed Dec. 14-15 at Carolina Theatre in Durham. Local auditions are set for 10 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 10, at Spotlight Dance Company, 120 N. Church St.

“We are the host school,” says Marianna Jarrett, Spotlight’s owner.

Spotlight is one of four audition sites in North Carolina. The ballet will also be performed in Wilmington, Asheville and Charlotte during November and December. The Moscow Ballet is running six different audition tours in 112 cities nationwide.

The Salisbury audition is for dancers with at least one year’s experience who are between the ages of 6 and 17. Student dancers should wear a black leotard and pink tights, and be prepared to stay for rehearsals later that day, and on Sunday afternoon, if chosen. There is a $50 cast fee to cover costumes.

The student dancers may be cast in the roles of Party Children, Mice, Snowflakes, Angels, Snow Maidens and more. Rehearsals will then take place on Saturdays this fall, Jarrett says, so as not to interfere with classes at local studios.

Sally Michael Keyes in director of public relations, North America, for Talmi Entertainment, which brings the dancers to the U.S.

“We look for a studio that’s in a certain geographic distance to the theater,” Keyes explains. “But more importantly, we look for dance studios that offer ballet. Ballet is dear to our hearts and a lifelong habit. You learn good discipline, staying healthy, and how to work collaboratively. These are all great tools for children to learn.”

She adds, “We also look for a studio that’s friendly and open to working with other dance schools. We have room for 60 ensemble dancers. We look for that partnership and positive outlook that’s so helpful for spreading the word, and getting the job done right.”

Jarrett is enjoying the added visibility of her new downtown location, which she moved into in March. And she’s delighted to open the studio to dancers throughout the community and beyond for the auditions.

In addition to conducting auditions, ballerina Svetlana Popova will lead a master class from 12:30 to 2 p.m. on Sept. 11. This class is free and open to the community.

Following the class, rehearsals will continue until 6 p.m.

During her time in Salisbury, Popova will stay with Jarrett’s mother, Donna Weinhold, from whom Jarrett purchased the ballet studio in 2013.

“Some of my students are really excited about the auditions but some are really intimidated,” Jarrett says. Still, she says, it’s a wonderful opportunity for local dancers to share the floor with a professional.

When Jarrett thinks of ballet, her thoughts automatically drift toward “The Nutcracker.”

“It’s one of the most famous ballets in the world,” she says. “To have local dancers audition for this performance is just a really cool and special thing.”

For more information about the Salisbury auditions, call Marianna Jarrett at 704-310-5706.

Freelance writer Susan Shinn lives in Salisbury.

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