Touring Russian ballet company performs classics

At Proctors Thursday as part of 75-city tour
The Moscow Festival Ballet performs "Swan Lake."
The Moscow Festival Ballet performs "Swan Lake."

Ballet dancers are a tough lot and none are more resilient than the 42 dancers who are currently touring with the Moscow Festival Ballet, which stops at Proctors on Thursday, March 29.

“They’re in incredible shape to handle this grueling 75-city tour,” said tour manager Peter Dake, on a bus somewhere in Tennessee.

“They’re used to it. They fall asleep fast.”

The dancers, who will make 91 performances on this tour, have prepared nine different ballets. The one they’ll do on Thursday is Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake,” which is a two-hour production with an intermission.

“It’s traditional, classic Russian ballet. . . true to form,” Dake said.

While many companies do a certain amount of touring, this company was set up to be a mostly touring company. They do not have a resident ballet school. Sergei Radchenko had been a legendary principal dancer with the famed Bolshoi Ballet when he decided in 1989 to found this company dedicated to performing classic Russian ballets. He gathered dancers from across Russia who had studied at least ten years in a Russian dance school and almost immediately began to tour with new productions of such timeless classics as “Giselle,” “Don Quixote,” and “Carmen” often with re-creations of the dance’s original choreography by Marius Petipa, Jules Perrot and Jean Coralli.

Radchenko also began commissioning new works from Russian composers and added 20th century full-length ballets to the roster, such as “Cinderella,” “Romeo and Juliet” and “The Golden Age.” 

Over the years, the company toured the world often in two-month long tours and began touring this country in 1997 with subsequent North American tours in 2001, 2004, 2007, 2010, 2014, and 2016 that included a stop at Proctors. 

“We do a lot. The dancers have the summer off, but from September through May we’re on the road. We’re in Spain every year. The cities tend to run together,” Dake said, who has been managing these tours for several years.

Most of the dancers are Russian and live in Moscow, although there is one dancer from Cuba, who lives in the Ukraine. This year, the dancers have a bit more time to see the sites.

“They liked the beach in Florida and California, and seeing New York City,” Dake said. “We’re returning to several familiar venues and some of the dancers have been on so many of the tours that they can give guided tours.”

The company, which can number up to 50 dancers, always travels together on two buses. Since they dance to tape, there is no orchestra — “Too difficult to travel with an orchestra.” There also is a “very good crew,” which includes the dressers, a production manager, and two advance workers who will work with Proctors’ staff to deal with the props and backdrops.

The road has become home for these dancers.

“Most are in their 20s, but even those older dancers who don’t do full dances any more become character dancers, such as in ‘Don Quixote’ or ‘Cinderella,’ ” Dake said.

On occasion, they try to give masterclasses to local dance studios. 

These are often led by Elena Khorosheva, a character dancer who is considered a superb teacher, Dake said.

Moscow Festival Ballet

WHEN:  8 p.m. March 29, Thursday
WHERE: Proctors
HOW MUCH: $55 – $20
MORE INFO: 518-346-6204;

Categories: Entertainment

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