The State Ballet Theatre of Russia arrived in Richmond on Thursday for two performances of “The Nutcracker” at the EKU Center for Arts on Friday. Their costumes and set, however, are still tangled up in New York customs and border protection.
Through a few phone calls and the willingness to help out fellow dancers, within a matter of hours The Lexington Ballet and the Bluegrass Youth Ballet came to the rescue with costumes and props.
The substitute items worked just fine, said Jill Price, the Center’s interim director. The 10 a.m. performance “seemed to go off without a hitch,” she said.
Luis Dominguez, the artistic director and a ballet instructor for the Lexington Ballet, said they “were excited to be able to help.”
Dominguez first received a call Thursday from Debra Hoskins, former director of the EKU Center for the Arts, he said.
Hoskins had booked the show and knew Igor Levin, the Russian company’s manager, from working with him previously. She had called Levin to invite him to lunch while he was in town, and he told her of his dilemma, she said. The costumes and props had been shipped on a boat that docked in New York, but customs had not released their equipment.
Hoskins called Dominguez and joined the two ballet directors in a conference call, she said.
“I think its amazing that a fellow ballet director, a Kentuckian, helped these folks from Russia,” Hoskins said Friday. “In this case, the show will go on.”
Almost immediately after Dominguez hung up with Hoskins, he said, he received a phone call from Skip Daughtery, the executive assistant to the president at Eastern Kentucky University, to ask if he could help.
“I don’t know if we (Lexington Ballet) would be so lucky in this circumstance, those doors don’t open so easily, but I felt their pain,” Dominguez said.
Dominguez said he met with Levin and the Russian dancers at the Lexington Ballet company’s warehouse and loaned them everything they could spare, including props and about $100,000 worth of costumes, he said.
“As soon as I opened the warehouse ― they don’t speak English and I don’t speak Russian ― they all seemed pretty excited,” Dominguez said.
However, the Lexington Ballet will be performing its own production of The Nutcracker next weekend and conducted their first dress rehearsal Friday night, so they were unable to lend the Russians everything.
The Lexington Ballet was the first ballet company to perform on the EKU Center’s stage last year, Dominguez said, and coincidentally, they had performed “The Nutcracker.” The company will be back at the EKU Center with a production of Cinderella on Jan. 26.
The Russian ballet company will start the Canadian leg of their tour tomorrow, Hoskins said. Whether their equipment will be released from New York customs by then, is still up in the air.
Crystal Wylie can be reached at email@example.com or 623-1669, Ext. 6696.