Annapolis, Maryland, USA, 2020
Greater Annapolis Ballet’s mission is to inspire young artists and ensure an everlasting love of dance.
The Nutcracker Suite is Greater Annapolis Ballet’s first production. GAB was established in the Fall of 2019 for coaching and private lessons, and the ballet school opened its doors in the Fall of 2020. GAB dancers, like many dancers around the world, have learned to take class, rehearse, and perform while masked. Our classes have been arranged so that all dancers can maintain their distance.
For The Nutcracker Suite, we were not able to rehearse with the whole cast until the dress rehearsal (which was the night before the filming of the production). It has been an interesting first season for GAB, but we feel so fortunate to provide a space for dancers to do what they love after five months of virtual learning.
Margaret Russell (Artistic Director) and her husband, Tobias Russell (Music Director), wanted to emphasize the importance of the relationship between music and dance to the GAB dancers. Originally, they wanted the dancers to perform alongside live musicians. Due to the pandemic, we were not able to be in a theatre, so we opted for a recording of a live performance.
Tobias arranged Tchaikovsky’s orchestral score for two pianos, and played it along with his brother, Luke Russell. It was a true family affair, highlighting the importance of working together and supporting one another, especially during times like these.
GAB is excited for the future and feels honored to be able to spread love and holiday cheer and is grateful to keep this classic tradition of The Nutcracker Suite to our dancers and all our audiences.
You can visit greaterannapolisballet.org to see the full performance.
Drosselmeyer’s magical night
Peacocks and Arabian dancers
The energetic Russians
Dance of the Mirlitons
Margaret Russell began her training with the Gwinnett Ballet Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia under the direction of Lisa Sheppard. She has studied with Orlando Ballet, Boston Ballet, Ballet Arizona and Burklyn Ballet Theatre. She has worked with Fernando Bujones, John Gardner, Amanda McKerrow, Author Leeth and Thom Clower. Russell performed in Austria at the Tanzsommer Festival with the Gwinnett Ballet Theatre and in Scotland at the Fringe Festival with the Burklyn Ballet Theatre. She received her BA from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County where she trained with Carol Hess, Doug Hamby, Erica Rebollar, and Sandra Lacy.
Margaret Russell’s professional experience includes principal and soloist roles with Manassas Ballet Theatre and Ballet Theatre of Maryland. Her roles with MBT, under the direction of Amy Grant Wolfe, include Queen of the Dryads in Don Quixote, Katrina in The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Snow Queen and Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker, in addition to soloist roles in Les Sylphides and The Sleeping Beauty. Her roles with BTM, under the direction of Dianna Cuatto, include Cinderella in Cinderella, Dawn in Coppelia, Dew Drop and Snow Queen in The Nutcracker, and Odette in Swan Lake.
Russell has been teaching ballet in Maryland and Virginia for the past fifteen years. She has taught for The Dance Academy, Ballet Theatre of Maryland, Manassas Ballet Academy, Metropolitan Ballet Theatre, C&C Dance Company, and is currently the ballet instructor at Anne Arundel Community College. In 2010, she was appointed Ballet mistress for Ballet Theatre of Maryland and in 2017 for The Dance Academy.
Russell’s students have received scholarships to train with Bolshoi Academy in Moscow, Russia, Boston Ballet, and other numerous renowned schools. Many of Russell’s students have been finalists at the Youth America Grand Prix and have danced professionally with Pacific Northwest Ballet, Nashville Ballet, Texas Ballet Theatre, and The Suzanne Farrell Ballet. She has choreographed neoclassical and contemporary pieces for Manassas Ballet Theatre, University of Maryland, Baltimore County’s Dance Department, and South River High School’s Dance Company. Her choreography received top 12 at the Youth America Grand Prix in 2019. Russell founded Greater Annapolis Ballet in 2019 and is dedicated to providing students with proper training and guidance.
Tobias Russell is a composer, songwriter, pianist and guitarist from Annapolis, Maryland. He has a diverse teaching background, with multiple years of experience both in individual lessons and the classroom. Mr. Russell is a member of Music Educators of Greater Annapolis, and maintains a private piano teaching studio in Annapolis, MD. Additionally, he has taught piano, guitar, and songwriting in the Anne Arundel County Performing and Visual Arts program since 2015, and currently works with the piano majors. His past experience includes teaching piano and guitar as well as directing numerous onstage productions at School of Rock Annapolis (SOR) from 2013–2018, where he also served as Music Director and General Manager. After departing SOR, Mr. Russell spent the fall semester of 2018 teaching music theory at Anne Arundel Community College.
A graduate of St. John’s College in Annapolis, Mr. Russell holds a Master’s degree in composition from Catholic University. He has had several original works premiered over the past few years, the most recent being Nobiscum Deus, a composition for chorus and orchestra. The piece was performed at the National Basilica in Washington D.C. in December 2019 as part of the annual Christmas Concert for Charity. Other works performed include Drive, which was premiered in May of 2019 by the CUA wind ensemble; his choral setting of Haec dies, which received its premiere in April of 2019; and Centers, a three-movement composition for cello and piano which was selected for the inaugural New Music D.C. conference at Georgetown University in September of 2018.
In addition to teaching, Mr. Russell has been writing, recording and performing his solo work around the Annapolis / Baltimore / Washington, D.C. area since 2007. He is also the music director of Greater Annapolis Ballet, and works on arranging music for youth ballet performances while accompanying occasional classes.