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Dancers make a 'pointe' for preservation

November 04, 1998

Artist's renditionBy KATE COLEMAN / Staff Writer




It's a study in contrasts.

Ballet dancers, including featured performers from three famed Russian companies - the Kirov, Bolshoi and Ukraine - will dance to help in the effort to preserve part of American railroad history. They'll be dancing to the music of Chopin and Tchaikovsky to save the site that once hissed and clanged with the sounds of steam and metal.

International Ballet Theater of the Performing Arts will perform at 2 and 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 7, at Musselman High School auditorium in Inwood, W.Va. The performances will benefit the effort to preserve the B&O Roundhouse in Martinsburg, W.Va., built in 1866 and thought to be the oldest engine house still standing in the country.

--cont. from lifestyle--

How is a troupe of Russian dancers finding its way to West Virginia?

"It is a small world," says Baroness Rida von Luelsdorff of Middleburg, Va.

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Born in China, von Luelsdorff came to the United States in 1963. A philanthropist, her path crossed that of Clinton Davis, president of the nonprofit Institute for International Training, Trade and Development at Shepherd College in Shepherdstown, W.Va.

They were talking about helping Russia.

"Out of the blue sky," the roundhouse was mentioned, von Luelsdorff says.

Historical preservation has long been a passion for her. She says she was involved in the restoration of George Bernard Shaw's home in Dublin, Ireland.

Von Luelsdorff visited the roundhouse, learned about it and decided to do what she could to help.

"This is history never to be repeated, for God's sake," she says.

She calls her small part in the project payback for having been taken into this country.

"My little aim is just to show that there are people around the world who are concerned," she says.

Von Luelsdorff contacted Maestro Vladimir Shumeikin, artistic director and choreographer of the Wilmington, Del.-based International Ballet Theater of the Performing Arts. Shumeikin has gathered dancers from Russia as well as American companies. They'll be coming from New York, Boston and Tulsa, Okla.

Among those dancing in Martinsburg are Aleksandra Koltun, principal dancer with Boston Ballet, and Alexi Borovik, principal dancer with The Pennsylvania Ballet in Philadelphia.

Alexander Boitsov, former principal dancer of Donetsk Ballet in Donetsk, Ukraine, is ballet master and assistant choreographer of International Ballet Theater of the Performing Arts. His Nov. 7 performance will mark a return to the area. He has been coming to Hagerstown for several years, working with The City Ballet School, according to director Lauran Clowser. She's expecting Boitsov and members of the Wilmington company to join in her school's performance of "The Nutcracker" Dec. 5 and 6 at The Maryland Theatre.

The Nov. 7, 2 p.m. performance for children ages 16 and younger in Martinsburg is sold out. It will include selections from Chopin's "Les Sylphides," "Harlequinade" by Drigo and Tchaikovsky's "Swan Lake." There are a few seats left for the evening show which will include dances to music by Amirov and the pas de deux from "Notre Dame de Paris." Both shows will feature selections from "The Nutcracker" by Tchaikovsky.

Organizers expect to clear $12,000 to $15,000, says Judy Martin, event coordinator. Proceeds will go toward raising $140,000 to buy the roundhouse.

"Everything is possible," von Luelsdorff believes.




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