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Promoting Krasnoyarsk: How the Russian State Ballet of Siberia has won British hearts

By Anna Lidster
03 March 2013

For 11 successive years, this famous ballet troupe has toured the UK, becoming unique cultural ambassadors and putting their native Krasnoyarsk on the map in the West.

'Long ago I went to a ballet, found the sound of feet dancing very distracting, and decided that it was not for me. On Sunday night, I went to see the Russian State Ballet of Siberia, accompanied by The Russian State Ballet Orchestra, at The Regent Theatre in Hanley. I was transported into a world of mime, exquisite interpretations, outstanding discipline, and beauty, by a young ensemble of gifted, dedicated, dancers and musicians', Suzanne Morgan from Hanley said. Picture: The Siberian Times 

Headed by ambitious artistic director Sergei Bobrov, the company's regular visits are eagerly anticipated, winning heartfelt praise in the media in England, Scotland and Wales. 

'The British public is always very warm,' he told The Siberian Times during this season's tour.

'We have been performing in the UK for many years, so I would say by now we've established a special bond with people. 

'Our audience often write to us - or about us on blogs - and it is always very positive. Often they leave flowers, chocolates, or thank you cards after performances. In many cities we have our regular theatre-goers. Some of them are very close to us now. 

'We are friends: visiting each other, spending time together offstage. 

'In fact, some of our closest fans we consider as part of our ballet troupe by now... we see them each year.'

from Siberia with grace, Krasnoyarsk State Ballet

'We go to other countries like Greece, Spain and elsewhere, but Britain is the country to which we return every year. We know that people here want to see our shows and we perform for them with real pleasure'. Picture: The Siberian Times 

The connection made by the Krasnoyarsk company in cities all over the UK is remarkable, defying the sometimes edgy diplomatic relationship between Britain and Russia, showing a mutual affection and understanding that is both a great example and a matter of Siberian pride. 

'We have been performing in the UK for 11 years,' says Sergei, a former principal dancer and choreographer with the Bolshoi in Moscow, who is perhaps too modest to stress that the theatres are invariably sold out.

'Audiences always gives us a warm welcome'. 

He believes the long tradition of ballet in Russia is responsible for the number of world leading companies in the country. 

'We have people with the knowledge and a long history of ballet,' Sergei says. 'I think it is part of the Russian spirit. We also go to other countries like Greece and Spain and elsewhere, but Britain is the country to which we return every year. We know that people here want to see our shows and we perform for them with real pleasure'.

Asked how he managed to surprise people year after year, often returning to the same theatres, he says: 'Our show is a quality performance. Perhaps, this is what people like. In Krasnoyarsk, the ballet troupe work as high class professionals who really know their job - from dancers to costumiers. We are a ballet with traditions and this is also valuable'.

The British love Swan Lake and The Nutcracker - 'these are the shows that people want to see every year', though their repertoire naturally goes much wider.

'We also bring our best dancers and young performers to the UK. It is amazing how many artists have actually grown during the British tours. Lots of our theatre stars came into their own during tours to Britain'.

from Siberia with grace, Krasnoyarsk State Ballet


from Siberia with grace, Krasnoyarsk State Ballet

From Siberia with grace: The Nutcracker performed in England by the troupe of Krasnoyarsk State Opera and Ballet Theatre. Pictures: The SIberian Times 

There is no greater commendation to the performances of the  Russian State Ballet of Siberia than the comments of British theatre critics in newspapers all over the UK.

'A triumphant opening night for the returning Russian State Ballet of Siberia, who chose the often overlooked comic ballet, La Fille Mal Gardee, to kick-off their four-day programme at Darlington's Civic Theatre,' said the Northern Echo newspaper in early February, with a public appeal for the troupe to return next year.

'The soloists and corps de ballet are superb, and never fail to delight audiences with their breathtaking physical ability and dazzling costumes,' said a spokeswoman for the theatre.

'We may complain about the weather here in the North West (of England), but visitors to the Liverpool Empire next week will think they're in balmy seventh heaven,' explained the Chester Chronicle.

'It averages somewhere below -18C in the winter in Krasnoyarsk, so anything Liverpool can throw at The Russian State Ballet of Siberia is going to feel like the Caribbean.'

Critic Philip Key from the Liverpool Echo praised 'a delicate Elena Pogorelaya, 22, (who) was a characterful Lise and 19-year-old Kirill Bulychev, a supple and energetic Colas, her lover. Their final act pas de deux was a delight with strong balance and turns from both.. it was a happy production with a sunny glow.'

For the Hull Daily Mail, the performance by this 'acclaimed company' was full of 'flair and humour'.

One regional newspaper, the East Anglian Daily Times, secured an interview with 26 year old dancer Ekaterina Bulgutova, who tells that it was her dream to perform for the Russian State Ballet of Siberia.

She gave this advice to aspiring British ballerinas. 'Don't give up; love ballet and you will be special'.

from Siberia with grace, Krasnoyarsk State Ballet

'When I started with the company (in 2002) it was not on a very high level but I set out from the start to achieve the standard of the Bolshoi Theatre - which is the main company in Russia and the most famous. Picture: The Siberian Times 

In the English Midlands, the Leicester Mercury newspaper praised Sergei Bobrov for creating 'a ballet company with a worldwide reputation'.

'Krasnoyarsk would just be a stopping point on the Trans-Siberian Railway if it wasn't for its two claims to fame', explained writer Nigel Powlson.

'It is one of the largest producers of aluminium in the world and it has an internationally famous ballet company. With a growing reputation both in and outside of Russia, the company is driven forward by artistic director Sergei Bobrov, who has one burning ambition - to make them as famous and as respected as the Bolshoi.'

He quotes Bobrov: 'When I started with the company (in 2002) it was not on a very high level but I set out from the start to achieve the standard of the Bolshoi Theatre - which is the main company in Russia and the most famous.'

The writer told how Bobrov courted 'the best young dancers and collaborated with all the leading artists in Russia, inviting them to Krasnoyarsk to give masterclasses to both the ballet performers and the orchestra. His strategy certainly seems to have paid off'.

The artistic director told him that back home in Russia 'we are now highly rated as we are invited all around the country and, when we put on a new production, people come from all over to see it and it is highlighted in the press'.

The Leicester Mercury critic said: 'Certainly British ballet lovers have taken to the company.'

Bobrov admited: 'We like very much to be in England... and audiences always gives us a warm welcome.'

A key challenge is the frequent moving from city to city, and performing in theatres where the stages are too small or cramped. 

'Each venue in the UK is different, with varying facilities. But we are used to this now and everyone is really professional. So we just carry on.'

He clearly succeeds, with the Fleetwood Weekly News praising 'performances of outstanding quality and unusual depth. The soloists and corps de ballet are superb, and never fail to delight audiences with their breathtaking physical ability and dazzling costumes'.

from Siberia with grace, Krasnoyarsk State Ballet

'The performance was truly inspirational - and I have to admit, left me in tears'. Pictures: The Siberian Times 

In Wales, the Western Mail's critic Catherine Moon writes: 'From the overture to the finale, this production of Swan Lake had us totally enthralled thanks to the highly professional troupe. The orchestra, under the baton of Alexander Yudasin, was note perfect and the audience showed their appreciation with loud applause every time they played.

'The opening scene demonstrated that while Dimitry Sobolevsky, taking the lead solo role at the tender age of 20, might be young, he's certainly mature enough to carry off the part. His leaps across the stage were breathtaking and tireless and his more romantic dance moves were elegant and convincing.

'Anna Aulle, as the tragic White Swan, was almost unbelievably graceful as she floated, feather-like, through the air and her romantic partnership with Prince Siegfried was perfectly presented. She totally changed her mood when interpreting the role of the Black Swan, with her dancing featuring evil undertones aplenty. Her pirouettes were unbelievable and beautiful to watch.

'The set for the lake scenes were suitably moody while, in complete contrast, the ballroom scenes were bright and colourful. The costumes were stunning. All of the dancers performed with consummate professionalism but special mention should be made of the five who performed as the foreign princesses hoping to capture the heart of the prince; their dances were inventive and highly enjoyable.

'The final scene returned the White Swan to her tragic prince and the beautiful finale allowed the prima ballerina and the male soloist to show their full repertoire and skill. Truly a wonderful ballet and well waiting for!'

from Siberia with grace, Krasnoyarsk State Ballet

'Truly a wonderful ballet and well waiting for!' Picture: The Siberian Times 

In Exeter, the Express & Echo praised  'a sumptuous production' and in Brisol the Evening Post newspaper lauded a 'truly enchanting experience'.

Such praise is not new in Britain. 

In March 2011, the Siberian troupe won the kind of plaudits that performers must dream about in a letter to The Sentinal newspaper from a member of the audience, Suzanne Morgan:

'Long ago I went to a ballet, found the sound of feet dancing very distracting, and decided that it was not for me. Since that time I have been surprised by audience reaction, and popularity of ballet down the years. How very ignorant of me . On Sunday night, I went to see the Russian State Ballet of Siberia, accompanied by The Russian State Ballet Orchestra, at The Regent Theatre in Hanley.

'I was transported into a world of mime, exquisite interpretations, outstanding discipline, and beauty, by a young ensemble of gifted, dedicated, dancers and musicians.

'The story of Romeo and Juliet, the sadness, joy, romance and tragedy was so sensitively portrayed, that one could not help, but have one's senses awakened, and heart lifted. The performance was truly inspirational, and I have to admit, left me in tears.'

By the time we caught up with Sergei, his troupe had performed in 17 cities since starting the tour on 10 December. They will finish this year with five performances in the Scottish capital of Edinburgh, the last on 23 March. 

Perhaps it's an invidious question but we asked where in the UK he likes best to perform. The answer is the capital city of Wales. 

'We like all the cities, but I would say it is in Cardiff we have the most enjoyable time. It's a beautiful city where live the most wonderful people'.

Comments (8)

Thank you to the Company for the brilliant matinee performance of 'The Snow Maiden' at the Theatre Royal, Norwich. The choreography is excellent, beautifully danced by all the Company and the young lady who danced the part of 'Snow Maiden' was exquisite. Lovely to see a different ballet for a change.
.
J. Gable, Wymondham, England
21/02/2016 00:12
1
0
Give these gals and guys a thumbs up, tonight at the Brighton Theatre Royal they danced in a match box and still managed to dazzle. Gorgeous costumes, I can tell someone had loads of fun designing them. It must be so hard to restrict the abundant creative space a dance stage normally offers. The dancers had to work so hard with the limited space they had. Like driving a tin can after a sports car. Thank you for a beatiful show, dispite the space.
Rebekah J Stone, Brighton, UK
17/02/2016 04:55
2
0
We went to see Coppelia this evening at the Ipswich regent and what an outstanding performance...the dancers were amazing, fantastic performance and would go back again and again..thank you for bringing your talent to the u.k and looking forward to seeing you again here very soon.
Louise, Ipswich/suffolk
06/03/2015 07:24
0
0
Took my 6 year old daughter to see The Nutcracker at St David's Hall. It was our first ballet and certainly won't be the last! We were enchanted with this wonderful performance. Excellent show well worth seeing. Swan Lake next!
Rachel, Wales
01/01/2015 19:24
3
0
This will be the third year that my wife and I have seen Swan Lake at Darlington Civic Theatre. There put on a wonderful performance every year. We have Also seen The Nutcraker in 2011 and Le fille mal Gardee last year and
have also booked to see Giselle this year on 23/01/2014.

I can't wait.

I hope they keep up the annual visits for ever
Mike Corless, Darlington Co. Durham England
08/01/2014 21:28
3
0
How nice is it to hear more about the great theatres of Siberia, many thanks
Roy , US
03/03/2013 23:14
2
0
so gracious; I live in Siberia but I never saw Krasnoyarsk troupe performance. I wish I did now
Omsk, Tanya
03/03/2013 14:13
5
0
Go Siberia!! When will Scotland have as many great quality performances from Siberia?
Shaun, Scotland
03/03/2013 12:42
6
0
1

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