Youth Ballet Presents

Buffalo, NY – A local ballet company that caters strictly to training young dancers premiers its first full-length ballet Friday and Saturday at UB's Center for the Arts. It's the Greater Buffalo Youth Ballet's production of "Cinderella."

A 17-year-old ballerina gracefully bourrees on her point shoes across a rehearsal studio floor to her dance partner. She is portraying Cinderella. Playing the prince is a 21-year-old Russian-born ballet dancer appearing as "guest artist." Igor Burlak currently performs with the prestigious Kansas City Ballet. He studied at the School of the American Ballet, and danced children roles with the New York City Ballet. But this weekend, Burlak and his partner, Nicole Archangel of the Youth Ballet, will light up the stage with a pas de Duex.

Since Burlak is making a guest appearance, the dancers had only a week to rehearse together. But Burlak and Archangel didn't seem flustered by the quick turnaround.

"It's not as hard as it looks because we've partner before," Archangel said.

"We've know each other for a few years now, so we are comfortable partnering," Burlak added. "It's not a shy thing."

Burlak came to America at the age of 10, but actually trained in ballroom dance in Russia, before taking his first ballet lesson in America. He says the most challenging part of his Buffalo performance is playing a prince.

"Not everybody can do a prince," Burlak said. "You know it is one of those things you have to do. You have to pretend you are a prince and just go and do it."

The Greater Buffalo Youth Ballet is housed at the Royal Academy of Dance in Buffalo. Artistic director, Elizabeth DiStasio Waddel, founded the Youth Ballet six years ago. She wanted to create a company that offers professional ballet training for students six to 18 years of age.

"I want to put them out there as in a pre-professional setting, having them do professional ballets and look just as good as professional dancers, and train them to get ready," DiStasio Waddel said. "We have a former alumnae that is not dancing with the Miami City Ballet. So that is what we are training them to do."

Eighty-five area dancers will be featured in "Cinderella" Friday night and Saturday afternoon. The company performs regularly around the region to bring dance to audiences not normally exposed to the art of ballet -- that includes schools, senior citizen centers and hospitals.

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