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Busy season underway for First State Ballet Theatre

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WILMINGTON – For the First State Ballet Theatre (FSBT), the only professional ballet company in Delaware, the next few weeks will mark one of the busiest periods of its season, drawing hundreds to its programs at the Grand Opera House.

First State Ballet Theatre: an all-new production "Triple Bill" will bring contemporary ballet to Wilmington this month. | PHOTO COURTESY OF FSBT/TISA DELLA-VOLPE

An all-new production “Triple Bill” will bring contemporary ballet to Wilmington this month. | PHOTO COURTESY OF FSBT/TISA DELLA-VOLPE

Founded in 1999 by Russian dancers Pasha and Kristina Kambalov as a nonprofit school, and later made a professional company in 2008, the FSBT now features a troupe of 21 paid professional dancers from all over the world.

They will feature in a brand new “Triple Bill” show designed specifically for them by choreographers Zachary Kapeluck, Blake Krapels, and Viktor Plotnikov at the Grand from Feb. 17-19. Plotnikov, a veteran Ukrainian dancer who spent more than a decade with the Boston Ballet, has written productions for FSBT previously, but Kapeluck and Krapels are two up-and-coming choreographers from the contemporary studio BalletX in Philadelphia, said Joan Beatson, director of advancement at FSBT.

Of its five annual shows, the company aims to mix contemporary pieces like “Triple Bill” that will challenge its dancers and pique public curiosity with classic productions, like an annual Christmastime run of “The Nutcracker” and a production of “Don Quixote” scheduled for April 22-24.

“A lot of people don’t have an exposure to ballet. They don’t think they will like it right, but then they see it live and they’re like, ‘That was so cool.’ We see it all the time,” Beaston said.

Following “Triple Bill,” the FSBT will draw a few hundred people to downtown Wilmington for the fifth annual National Ballet Competition, which draws dancers ages 9 to 19 to perform before an esteemed judging panel for a shot at scholarships to summer ballet programs nationwide. To date, the competition has helped award $400,000 in scholarships.

“One of the reasons Pasha really wanted to start this competition is because we live here in the Grand, which is an absolutely ideal facility,” Beaston said, noting that it has several studios and theaters, and an ample hotel and restaurant environment surrounding the venue for visiting families. “That’s not always the case for these competitions. Here, the kids, parents and teachers can go out to eat and they can stay at the Hotel du Pont or elsewhere. We drive a lot of business downtown during the competition.”

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