The Magic of Ballet

In March I got to know that I will be spending almost 3 months in St. Petersburg this summer, working as an intern in ITMO. One of my first thoughts was "I will have time to see a ballet or even two!" After all, the history of ballet in Russia is very long, and St. Petersburg as the so-called cultural capital of the country would surely have a lot to offer in the sphere of ballet.

Indeed, in St. Petersburg there are several theatres that offer ballet performances throughout the year, as I learned after my arrival. The most famous of them must be the Mariinsky theatre, but it isn’t the only one. So far I have seen two ballets in two different theatres, so I can proudly call myself a frequent visitor!

The ballet performances themselves are amazing, but so are the theatres. Both the theatre buildings I have visited, the Mikhailovsky theatre and the Theatre of Musical Comedy were incredibly beautiful from the inside, with a lot of detailed decorations. These theatres are already a good reason to go to see a ballet performance!

Here is the first theatre I visited, the Mikhailovsky theatre, which is situated between the Arts Square and the Griboyedov canal. The gold and red shades and chandeliers give an amazing royal feel to the interior of the theatre. The rows of balconies reach the ceiling, which is also beautifully painted.

The ballet we saw here was Don Quixote, the Spanish classic about the hidalgo, who wants to bring justice to the world. I think the dance had some influences from flamenco, which added to the Spanish atmosphere. We also witnessed some very talented dancers spinning countless pirouettes in a row!

During the intermission you can visit the little museum of ballet on the second floor of the theatre. The museum displays many outfits of ballet dancers, old ballet posters and other pictures, as well as miniature models of previous sceneries of ballet performances. Aren’t they cute, like little doll houses!

The second theatre I visited, the Theatre of Musical Comedy can also be found on the Arts Square, but in the opposite corner from Mikhailovsky theatre. The main scene here is a little less detailed in decorations, as you can see in the picture below. Also there are fewer balconies, actually only one. However, this theatre is marvelous as well.

Besides the main scene, you can visit several halls of the building whenever there is time before the performance or during the intermissions. These halls are very beautiful. Here is one of them with green walls and beautiful wooden details. One of them has all the portraits of the ballet dancers.

The ballet we saw this time was Swan Lake, probably the most well-known Russian ballet with the beloved music from Tchaikovsky. It is a story of a prince, who falls in love with a girl that is cursed to be a swan. My favorite part of this ballet was the iconic scene where all the swan-ballerinas dance together in their white tutu dresses. The dancers look so light and fragile!

All in all it is amazing how they make the dancing look so easy, even though we know for sure that it is very difficult. It takes many years of practice to become a professional ballet dancer. If you have a free evening in St. Petersburg consider checking out the ballet!

Intern at International Educational Programs Department