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Ballet raises money to save Martinsburg roundhouse

November 08, 1998|By SCOTT BUTKI

INWOOD, W.Va. - Russian ballet dancers doing pirouettes on stage may be the next step in getting the effort to save the Martinsburg roundhouse on track.

A ballet program on Saturday raised about $25,000 for the effort to preserve the B&O Roundhouse in Martinsburg, W.Va.

Both performances of the International Ballet Theater of the Performing Arts, which featured dancers from the Kirov, Bolshoi and Ukraine ballet companies, were sold out. The programs were held in the Musselman High School auditorium in Inwood. The auditorium seats about 600 people.

All proceeds went to the movement to preserve the roundhouse, which was built in 1866 and is thought to be the oldest engine house standing in the country. The committee for the preservation and restoration of the roundhouse is trying to raise enough money to buy the structure, which is owned by CSX.

"It has just been great. The community responded just as we thought," said David Blythe, director of the Martinsburg-Berkeley County Convention and Visitors Bureau, which sold the tickets.

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"It's a good kickoff," said Judy Martin, event coordinator. The committee is planning on having similar fund-raising events for the roundhouse but has not yet decided what they will be, she said.

Before the first of the two shows, Berkeley County Commissioner Jim Smith made some introductory remarks. He also read letters from various government officials, including West Virginia Gov. Cecil Underwood, praising the event.

It is great that just as Berkeley County gets involved with events around the world it is also able, in this instance, to bring this event to the region, Smith said.

He then introduced Baroness Rida von Luelsdorff of Middleburg, Va., who received a standing ovation. She is a philanthropist interested in historical preservation. When she learned about the work to save the roundhouse she got in touch with Maestro Vladimir Shumeikin, artistic director and choreographer for the theater group. That eventually led to Saturday's performances.

"A lot of tears, a lot of agony, has been put forth to make this happen," she said.

The afternoon show was geared for children 16 and under and many young girls were indeed in attendance. They smiled and pointed, sometimes gesturing and waving their hands in the air, mimicking the ballerinas on the stage.

During intermission, some parents said they came for the ballet, while others said they came to help support the roundhouse, but most said they were there for both.

"It is a once-in-a-lifetime experience to see the Bolshoi Ballet and support the roundhouse," said Lene Frye of Martinsburg.

Paula Rosso of Shepherdstown, W.Va., brought her two daughters, who are themselves budding ballerinas, and said she is glad that the money is going to such a good cause.

Both performances were to feature selections from Tschaikovsky's "The Nutcracker" in the second act. The performances in the first act were to be varied. The afternoon performance featured selections from "Les Sylphides" by Chopin, "Harlequinade" by Drigo, "Swan Lake" by Tchaikovsky, "La Bayadere" by Mincus and "Melody and Rain." The 7:30 p.m. performance was to include selections from "Thousand and One Night" by Amirov and "Notre Dame de Paris."

Children were allowed in free to the first show if they were accompanied by an adult. Tickets to the first show were $15 for adults. Reserved tickets for the second show were $250, $100 and $50 and general admission was $25. For those purchasing tickets for $100 and above, a reception was to follow the evening performance.

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