Syracuse City Ballet Stages Classic Fairytale This Weekend

This weekend, Syracuse City Ballet will present Tchaikovsky’s fairytale classic Sleeping Beauty, starring local Central New York dancers with New York City Ballet’s Ana Sophia Scheller as Aurora at the Crouse Hinds Theater. And in addition to professional choreography, glittering costumes and magical sets featuring original puppetry, audience members might catch the real chemistry between the prince and princess, as the two leads are actually a couple.

Scheller and Nicolai Gorodiskii, who will dance the role of Prince Desire, met back in 1996 in Argentina where the two began their dance training, as reported on Syracuse.com. Scheller, a native of Buenos Aires, became a principal ballerina with NYCB in 2012, and she first performed the role of Princess Aurora for the prestigious company in 2013. Ukraine-born Gorodiskii is a former soloist with the Pennsylvania Ballet, and this will be his premier performance as Prince Desire. As told to Syracuse.com, Syracuse City Ballet  Artistic Director Kathleen Rathbun said, “Engaging a dancer who is at the level of Ana Sofia Scheller is a big step for our company. And we know that she and Nicolai will enchant our audiences with their skill and artistry in this sumptuous new production.”

Ana Sophia Scheller as Princess Aurora in New York City Ballet’s 2013 production.

After months of preparation, Scheller and Gorodiskii arrived in Syracuse this Monday and began rehearsing in the theater with the Syracuse City Ballet Corps de Ballet and other cast members. The Corps consists of 12 dancers from across New York state who auditioned for the spot and have been training with Ballet Mistresses Stephanie Dattellas and Rachael Cierniakoski since January. Professional dancer Anton Kandaurov will perform the role of Bluebird and Gvansta Gavashelishvili of the Connecticut Ballet dances the role of Princess Florine, while Leonid Goikhman and Rie Aioki will play Puss-n-Boots and the White Cat. Other soloists are former SCB dancers and now Rock School for Dance Education students, Kameron Triche (yes, of the same Syracuse Basketball royalty) as the sorceress fairy, and Mary Coon as the young fairy who alters Sleeping Beauty’s curse from death to deep sleep.

Artistic Director Kathleen Rathbun (center) with Bridge Street co-hosts Jim Teske and Sistina Giordano (left) and dancers Ana Sophia Scheller and Nicolai Gorodiskii (right)

Immediately following Friday night’s show, Syracuse City Ballet hosts its second annual champagne soiree to present local arts champions with Grande Jete Awards. This year’s honorees are Syracuse University Associate Professor of Dance Anthony “Tony” Salatino and Jean Fahey, owner of the Turning Pointe. The soiree is a benefit of membership at the $100 donor level or higher. Dignitaries for the weekend performances are WSYR Newschannel9 anchors Carrie Lazarus and Jennifer Sanders. Lazarus will also emcee the awards reception, which will take place behind the stage after final curtain.

Syracuse City Ballet is a nonprofit corporation founded in 1997, and it remains one of the only professional ballet companies serving the Central New York community. Through its dance education programs, SCB is deeply committed to serving the full diversity of youth in the community, and its special student performances of The Nutcracker each December are a well-attended and much cherished tradition. Syracuse City Ballet presents Sleeping Beauty on Friday, March 11 at 7 p.m. and Sunday, March 13 at 2 p.m. at the Crouse Hinds Theater, John H. Mulroy Civic Center. Tickets are available through Ticketmaster or the Oncenter Box Office. Check out the official production trailer below for a sneak preview of the family friendly ballet.