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By Tisha Johnson | Staff Writer
Photographs by Tisha Johnson. 
The Fort Leavenworth Lamp
December 3, 2009


Three young Fort Leavenworth residents are among the more than 200 children in the cast of the Kansas City’s Ballet’s production of the Nutcracker.

Abby and Emily Fedroff and Durante Verzola are students at the Kansas City Ballet School. The children will join the 25 members of the professional company for the production that begins Dec. 16.

Eight-year-old Abby is playing an Angel and a Mother Ginger child and 10-year-old Emily is playing a Mother Ginger child in the production. Thirteen-year-old Verzola is playing the prince, one of the male leads in the ballet.

All three dancers were familiar with their roles before rehearsals began. Verzola was the prince in the Kansas City Ballet’s production last year. Abby and Emily were in their community’s production of the Nutcracker at West Point, N.Y., last year where the family was stationed.

Verzola began dance at 7 with a tap class at West Point when his family was stationed there. The next year he began ballet. His future, he said, is with ballet. Verzola said he wants to pursue a professional career as a dancer.

“I like performing in front of people and showing them this art,” Verzola said. “I think it’s a really special, different and unique thing not everybody can do. It takes a lot of stamina and determination and commitment.”

Having the role of the prince is an honor, Verzola said. It is a big role and a big responsibility, he said.

“You really have to make the audience believe this is all really happening, you want them to be captivated by your performance,” Verzola said. “You have to make sure to stay animated and for every performance act like you’ve never seen it before either.”

With rehearsals for The Nutcracker, Verzola said he is at the school six days a week. Rehearsal is Saturday and Sunday, and during the week, Verzola has different ballet classes as well as a special men’s dance class, Pilates and modern dance.

“It’s a lot of work,” Verzola said.

Every day at the school is a challenge, Verzola said. He said he is always learning how to improve his technique. With all the other competition in the business, Verzola said, it is important to stand out with good technique.

Before coming to Fort Leavenworth, Verzola and his family researched the different studios in the area and what they could offer. When the time comes to move again, Verzola said he and his family would repeat the process.

“I guess I will cross that bridge when I come to it, research what kind of schools are there, but I definitely will never quit,” Verzola said.

The oldest of six siblings, he said his parents are very supportive of his art. “Obviously to drive down here every day, especially with my other siblings’ busy schedules,” Verzola said.

Verzola will be in about half of the performances of The Nutcracker this season, the children are split into two different casts and he is part of cast A. Emily and Abby are also part of cast A.


Copyright © 2006 GateHouse Media, Inc.

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