Russells Are Honored for Decades of Service

Russells Are Honored for Decades of Service

Students of the Russell School of Ballet put on a spectacular performance at Centreville High School last Sunday, honoring Ilona and Thomas Russell’s four decades of service and involvement in the community.

The Fairfax Ballet, a nonprofit organization that provides dancers with an opportunity to dance under qualified choreographers, is based at the Russell School of Ballet. The couple has operated the Russell School since 1965.

"THE RUSSELLS get the respect of their students," said Andrea Jones, a choreographer who helped put together the dancing performances. "They have instilled a love for the arts in me and their students."

According to Margaret Virkus, another choreographer, the members of the Russell School have been attending weekly rehearsals that lasted for two hours in attempts to put on the entertaining show.

"The program includes a fabulous modern piece, a short contemporary piece, and the long story ballet, Snow White," said Virkus.

The dancers wore romantic tutus, a long skirt reaching below the calf, of various soft pastel colors for the first half of the performance. During the "Snow White" performance, stronger and more solid colors dominated the stage.

With all the dancers pirouetting across the stage, the floating colorful fabrics created a visually pleasing effect. Their elegant movements and facial expressions radiated passion and strong emotion.

Kristen Scudder was among the dancers who expressed this passion and love for performing on stage.

"When I was little, dancing was all I wanted to do," Scudder said. "Every girl wants to do ballet."

At the conclusion of the performance, both Lynn McElhaney, the president of the Fairfax Ballet, and Del. Chuck Caputo (D-67th), presented the plaque to the Russells with all the performers on stage. A thunderous standing ovation reverberated throughout the auditorium as the Russells received the award.

"I feel ecstatic," said Ilona Russell. "The dancers did a fabulous job and pleased us beyond expectation, it was perfect."