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'The Nutcracker' Makes a Stop in Dobbs Ferry

DOBBS FERRY, N.Y. – One by one each Springhurst first grader bowed alongside their professional ballet instructors after an impromptu production of “The Nutcracker” on Wednesday afternoon.

“The parents were thrilled and one mother told me it was the most inclusive event she’s ever seen and she was in tears and that meant the world to me,” said Springhurst principal Julia Drake.

The Springhurst first graders performed a production of the ballet with just an afternoon of practice with their instructors to prepare for it.  Teaching the students everything they needed to know to pull off such a performance was a challenge in itself for instructors Cierra Cotton and Andrei Kisselev. But this was more than just a workshop, as Kisselev and Cotton both danced alongside the students in the performance.

“You have to be very animated and make it like a game so they can follow along,” said Cotton, who is a 2011 graduate of the Ailey/Fordham B.F.A. Program in Dance.

Kisselev said he has been performing for the past 10 years and has trained in his homeland of Russia before performing on Broadway as well.  Kisselev, who is a professor of ballet at Manhattanville College,  said it can be tricky teaching the young children so much in such a short period of time, but that it makes it all worth it when everything comes together.

“It’s magic,” Kisselev said.  “It’s like a magic trick.  We have basically like 20 minutes.  In that time you need to be exact with what you want from them.”

Working together with the school’s Parent Teacher Student Association, Drake said the in house ballet performance was something she knew would be a hit with the Springhurst community.

“I’ve worked with them in the past so I knew what a great experience it was in my former school so I decided it was something good to bring here and the first grade teachers were on board with it.”

While parents cheered and snapped pictures, Cotton said the most rewarding part of it all was the excitement and energy she felt in the room.

“The best part is probably seeing their smiles,” she said.  “They’re happy, their parents are happy.  It seems like they’re so excited for it.”

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