For Olga Aru, the big decision about her future came at an early age.
“When I was 7 I started dancing, and I really wasn’t sure if I liked it or not,” said Aru, a soloist and audition director with the Moscow Ballet. “But then I had to make a choice. Proceed with my piano lessons or get started going further with ballet.”
Aru, who has never second-guessed her decision, will be at the Palace Theatre in Albany with the Moscow Ballet on Dec. 10 for a performance of the ballet’s “Great Russian Nutcracker.”
But before they take center stage at the Palace, Aru will be in Capital Region at 12:30 p.m. Saturday at the Premiere Dance Performing Arts Center in Clifton Park to audition local dancers hoping to participate in December’s performance at the Palace.
“It was a lot of hard work, but I had an amazing teacher and my decision for my future, my life, was a very good one,” said Aru, who got her degree in ballet and dance pedagogy in 2008 from Kiev State Ballet College in Ukraine.
“Now I’m traveling around the world meeting new people and meeting young kids. I love working with young people and discovering new talent.”
Her work with the Moscow Ballet has taken her to some pretty volatile places. In 2011 she was in Cairo, Egypt, at the Cairo National Opera House during the Tahrir Square uprising.
“We were living 10 minutes from Tahrir Square, and from out my window I could see a lot going on,” she said. “It was quite frightening, but fortunately the local people showed themselves to be very good to us foreigners. We were there pretty much by ourselves, but the local people were very friendly and protective.”
While Aru grew up in Ukraine, she is not consumed by her homeland’s current situation with neighboring Russia.
“I still love Ukraine, but for the past 7 years I have not lived there,” she said. “I’ve been in Poland, Paris and all over the world. I was born in Ukraine, but I am not political and none of my relatives are. I guess my home is the planet.”
Aru, who studied ballet with Ukraine’s Varvara Potapova and Alla Rubina, is fluent in English, Ukranian, Russian, Polish, French and Italian.
A feature of the “Great Russian Nutcracker” is a segment called “Dove of Peace.” It is created when two dancers, each with one wing that is 20 feet long and feathered, come together to make a large flying bird.
“We have a very unique production number in our ‘Nutcracker,’ a scene that nobody else has,” said Aru.
“The dancers wear these beautiful costumes and create this beautiful scene that is dedicated to world peace. I believe all people, those who love the arts, are united in general. The arts is a great way to create peace because no language is needed to understand the arts.”
Children wishing to audition Saturday should be between 7 and 16, with at least one year of ballet training. Among the roles being offered are the party children, mice, snowflakes and snow maidens.
“There are a lot of talented kids, so for me it is important to get the right kid for the right role,” said Aru. “There are so many young and promising dancers, it is important to help them and give them a chance.”