Festival Ballet Providence, Rhode Island's largest professional dance company , presents George Lyssenko's Esmeralda, a powerful dance drama based on Victor Hugo's novel, the Hunchback of Notre Dame. Performances are at the 2,200-seat Veteran's Memorial Arts and Cultural Center in Providence, Saturday April 6 at 7:00 p.m. and Sunday, April 7 at 2:30 p.m.

Russian native and Esmeralda creator, George Lyssenko, partnered with Festival Ballet Providence Artistic Director Mihailo Djuric to rework his choreography that premiered in 2000 with the Montgomery Ballet. "It has been an honor working with Mr. Lyssenko," said Djuric. "I believe this collaborative effort will result in one of Festival Ballet Providence's strongest productions to date."

Fifteenth century Paris is the backdrop for this tale of love, compassion, jealousy and physical beauty. The story follows Quasimodo's search for a fuller life beyond the confines of his home, Notre Dame Cathedral, and his own disfigurement. Along the way he is deceived by Claude Frollo, the priest of Notre Dame, and befriended by the kindness of the gypsy beauty, Esmeralda. The retelling of this classic story is breathtakingly adapted to the stage. This production uses the great Cesare Pugni's original score created for the Russian court in 1849. Esmeralda features Festival Ballet Providence Principals Aleksandra Koltun and Alex Lapshin as Esmeralda and Prince Phoebus, respectively, soloist Gleb Lyamenkoff as Claude Frollo and guest artist Cornel Crabtree as Quasimodo.

Tickets for the performances are priced at $40, $30, $24, $20 and $12, and are available by calling Festival Ballet Providence at 401-353-1129 or any Ticketmaster outlet. Support for this production comes from lead sponsor the Providence Journal, Discover Dance sponsor Citizen's Bank, season television sponsor NBC 10, VMA Arts and Cultural Center, and ongoing support from the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts.

*George V. Lyssenko received his formative dance training from the Perm Ballet Academy where he received a Bachelor of Performing Arts. He has danced as a soloist with the Perm Opera and Ballet Theater for seven years and then for 12 years as a principal dancer with the Donetsk Opera and Ballet Theater, touring extensively through Russia and Europe. In addition he has been assistant professor of dance, ballet master and instructor at a number of companies. Mr. Lyssenko came to America in 1990 and currently lives in Florida where he teaches ballet and runs his educational multimedia and Internet company, Adro Labs, Inc.

**Cornell Crabtree, guest artist appearing as Quasimodo: Born in Libya, Mr. Crabtree was a member of New York City Ballet, touring nationally and internationally for ten years. During that time he was seen on television as part of the PBS Dance in America series and Live From Lincoln Center. He was a principal with Miami City Ballet and most recently was a principal with the Joffrey Ballet of Chicago for two years. He currently appears with two New York City-based companies, the Daring Project and DanceGalaxy.

Thanks to Festival Ballet for providing this information.


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