Ipswich: Behind the scenes of the Russian State Ballet of Siberia

The Russian State Ballet of Siberia's Giselle

The Russian State Ballet of Siberia's Giselle - Credit: Archant

The faint sound of piano music mixed with the hustle and bustle of dancers trickles through the phone when I chatted with The Russian State Ballet of Siberia’s Sergei Bobrov.

The Russian State Ballet of Siberia The Nutcracker

The Russian State Ballet of Siberia The Nutcracker - Credit: Archant

The faint sound of piano music mixed with the hustle and bustle of dancers trickles through the phone when I chatted with The Russian State Ballet of Siberia’s Sergei Bobrov.

The Russian State Ballet of Siberia Swan Lake

The Russian State Ballet of Siberia Swan Lake - Credit: Archant

“We have rehearsals for Giselle today and it’s going well,” says the company’s artistic director.

The Russian State Ballet of Siberia The Nutcracker

The Russian State Ballet of Siberia The Nutcracker - Credit: Archant

Formed in 1981 and based in Krasnoyarsk, in central Siberia, it’s one the country’s leading companies and a regular visitor to the Ipswich Regent. Known for its expanding bag of new works and classics, this year it’s brought Giselle, The Nutcracker and Swan Lake to town.

Russian State Ballet of Siberia Swan Lake

Russian State Ballet of Siberia Swan Lake - Credit: Archant

The first is a chilling, heart-rending tale of love, treachery and forgiveness from beyond the grave focused on beautiful village girl Giselle and her aristocratic, duplicitous lover Duke Albrecht.

Russian State Ballet of Siberia The Nutcracker

Russian State Ballet of Siberia The Nutcracker - Credit: Archant


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The second, the most famous, family, fantasy ballet begins on Christmas Eve. When midnight strikes, you will be swept away to a fairy-tale world where toy dolls spring to life as the Mouse King and his army battle with the Nutcracker Prince.

The last, perhaps the most romantic ballet of all time, is brought to life by Tchaikovsky’s score. A tale of tragic romance with amazing ensemble pieces, memorable pas de deux and breath-taking solos it’s the story of Odile, the temptress in black tulle who seduces the Prince by spinning with captivating precision, and the swan queen Odette.

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Each presents different challenges.

“Swan Lake is very traditional, classical; we’ve tried to show [it] the best we can in [terms of] performance, sets, lighting, everything. The Nutcracker is also very traditional, mostly children come to see it [so] it’s a very colourful and bright performance. Giselle is a tragedy, more for adults; so there will be a more romantic atmosphere.”

The company, accompanied by The Russian State Ballet Orchestra of Siberia, has around 15 ballets in its repertoire but it’s the favourites theatres usually go for.

“There are requests from the theatre, our impresario calls the theatres and they tell him what they’d like to see. We give them a list to choose from, plus we sometimes suggest our own choice... ‘we’d like to show you all [our] Tchaikovsky classical ballets or we’d like to show you our new performance’. People mostly want to see classical ballets - beautiful music, very famous composers.”

While used to swapping from one ballet to another, different theatres choosing different productions means a lot of work. The occasionaly prop may be re-used but the majority, along with all the costumes and all the sets, are made specicially for each show.

Ballet being, argueably, one of the most physically and mentally demanding of dance styles, it takes its toll on the performers too.

“Even if the moves look very simple it’s really hard to achieve high standards... you can learn movements but you can’t make them look beautiful. To make them look beautiful you need to train every day - train your body, keep your mind fresh, think all the time,” says Sergei, whose mother encouraged him to become a ballet dancer aged 10, although his love for the art form didn’t blossom until he was 15 when he realised he could sustain a high standard career.

He wants as many people to enjoy the shows as possible.

“Come and listen to the very good music of Tchaikovsky, who is a genius; see the very good choreography and performances which I think will leave a good impression in the minds of the audience. We always listen to the applause at the end... we care a lot about how audiences accept us, how they react to our ballet.”

The Russian State Ballet of Siberia, with The Russian State Ballet Orchestra of Siberia, performs Swan Lake tomorrow, Giselle Friday and The Nutcracker Saturday. You can catch Swan Lake at Southend’s Cliffs Pavilion on March 16.

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